A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

[LINK] “How “Frozen” Took Over the World”

Maria Konnikova’s blog post at The New Yorker taking a look at the reasons for the global popularity is, besides a fine look at a very good movie, an interesting examination of the underlying mechanics for popular pop culture.

George Bizer, a psychologist at Union College, first became interested in the “Frozen” phenomenon when his seven-year-old daughter requested that they watch it. Normally, a parent shouldn’t be surprised when a young girl wants to watch a Disney-princess movie. But for Bizer’s daughter, the request was highly out of character. “My daughter is a princess-hating daughter,” he told me. “She has made us warn everybody in prior years that she didn’t want anything with princesses on it for her birthday. And if she got a princess, she would get angry. Really angry.” Why, then, would she want to go see a movie where not one but two princesses reigned? “ ‘It’s O.K., Daddy,’ she said. ‘These are strong princesses. I’m going to like it a lot,’ ” Bizer recalled. And she did.

That was enough to pique Bizer’s curiosity, and when he started seeing “Frozen” fans cropping up around the college campus, he realized that there was a potentially more powerful force at work. Union students, after all, weren’t your typical Disney-loving fans. Together with his fellow Union psychologist Erika Wells, Bizer decided to test possible theories on every psychologist’s favorite population: college students. They organized an evening of “Frozen” fun—screening and movie-themed dinner—and called it “The Psychology of Frozen.” There, they listened to the students’ reactions and tried to gauge why they found the film so appealing.

While responses were predictably varied, one theme seemed to resonate: everyone could identify with Elsa. She wasn’t your typical princess. She wasn’t your typical Disney character. Born with magical powers that she couldn’t quite control, she meant well but caused harm, both on a personal scale (hurting her sister, repeatedly) and a global one (cursing her kingdom, by mistake). She was flawed—actually flawed, in a way that resulted in real mistakes and real consequences. Everyone could interpret her in a unique way and find that the arc of her story applied directly to them. For some, it was about emotional repression; for others, about gender and identity; for others still, about broader social acceptance and depression. “The character identification is the driving force,” says Wells, whose own research focusses on perception and the visual appeal of film. “It’s why people tend to identify with that medium always—it allows them to be put in those roles and experiment through that.” She recalls the sheer diversity of the students who joined the discussion: a mixture, split evenly between genders, of representatives of the L.G.B.T. community, artists, scientists. “Here they were, all so different, and they were talking about how it represents them, not ideally but realistically,” she told me.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 30, 2014 at 8:12 pm

One Response

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  1. I believe I am one of the few people left to watch Frozen. I hear so much about it that I am not interested.

    cubatista92

    July 1, 2014 at 11:49 am


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