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Elsa goes all Elizabeth Warren in Frozen 2

November 25, 2019 - 12:45pm

I took the kids to Frozen 2 at the weekend to see if we could relive the golden year of 2013 when all the children were belting out ‘Let It Go’. Well, it’s no Toy Story 3, I’ll say that. The film doesn’t seem to have any discernible story line, except that Elsa, Anna and the gang have to go on some sort of journey which is something to do with their parents’ deaths, and there’s a sort of fire-causing monster and a forest and magic. Still, I imagine Disney will just about manage to squeeze a profit out of it.

Interestingly, and because I’m obsessed with seeing political analogies in media aimed at children, the story is about a sort of modern redemption. (SPOILER ALERT) In the film the Arendellians journey into a forbidden forest called the Forbidden Forest where there live a group of people called the Northuldra, who seem to take inspiration from the Sámi and Inuit.

(The Arendellians in contrast obviously resemble the Swedes, although because it’s 2019 Arendelle has suddenly become racially diverse, even though it’s supposed to be a sort of brothers Grimm medieval northern Europe – they’ll probably benefit from the culture war publicity this will ignite, and critics will feel bound to defend it out of ideological solidarity, doing the whole “95% on Rotten Tomatoes for mediocre lowbrow films” thing.)

In the backstory Elsa and Anna’s grandfather King Runeard was a ruthless imperialist who was scared of his neighbours’ magic and so tried to conquer them by force. It turned into a war: Runeard was killed, but his son Agnarr was saved by one of the Northuldrians.

Anyway, the story ends with Queen Elsa finding out that she’s half-Sámi, sorry Northuldrian, because it was her mother who saved her father before they then got married. The revelation comes as a relief to Elsa because she never understood why she felt that she didn’t fit in. It also explains why she’s magical, because the land where these exotic others live is magical.

She then abdicates and goes off to live in the Enchanted Forest, dressed up like some ethno-ya on a gap year, finally relieved of her whiteness. Which all seems very 2019: maybe the whole thing is about Elizabeth Warren and the great upper-middle-class American longing for ethnic authenticity, and to be relieved of the historical burden of whiteness. As long as Elsa doesn’t ruin it by taking a 23andMe test.

Ed West’s book Tory Boy is published by Constable


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