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Bringing Out The Kid In You

“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.”

― Laurence J. Peter, The Peter Principle

Some days, you just don't know what to think.

A couple of years ago, we had a pair of pop culture movements that promoters hoped would help usher in a new era of human identity and understanding. They were, "Give Elsa a girlfriend," and "Give Cap a boyfriend." The idea was to depict two Disney icons, Elsa from Frozen and Captain America from the Avengers, in gay relationships. Oh, there's plenty of fan art and fan fics depicting that, but they wanted it official. The Cap angle pretty much died out with the movie Captain America: Civil War, when it was firmly established that Cap and Bucky were straight. Elsa is still going back and forth, so to speak, with writer/director Jennifer Lee dropping hints that she maybe might possibly have Elsa come out as a lesbian in Frozen 2.

The reason is fairly simple -- it's much easier to depict an idealized outcome in a work of fiction. The creators don't have to depict the characters wrestling with their self-identity, no altering of goals, no changes in reaction, no threats from the outside world. Take, for example, homosexuality. A friend of mine was telling me about his boyfriend. It seems, when he came out to his parents, his dad beat him hard enough to break both arms and fracture ribs and kicked him out of the house. You don't see that depicted. You don't see the despair, as people dealing with the realization that they might be trans are three times more likely to commit suicide than straights. You don't see their minds being poisoned by the feedback around them, starting to wonder if there actually is something wrong with them. You don't see their support network being threatened, like when gays attacked Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" movement as an instrument of privilege.

Nope. Just show them coming out, everyone around them is cool with it, anyone who has a problem fails due to their own ignorance, and everything is sunshine and rainbows. A bunch of people get to pat themselves on the back for being so open-minded by trivializing an identity crisis.

This means that just about anything can be co-opted into a self-righteous crusade. Even if the only thing it makes people do is go, "...what?" The Elsa-is-gay thing? I enjoyed Frozen, but I'm not particularly wrapped up in it. I don't think Elsa's sexual orientation has a place in the narrative of the power of the sibling bond, but whatever. As long as they don't hook Elsa up with Anna, I really don't give a toss. However, there are people vocally complaining that this needlessly politicizes a family movie.

And along comes a Pennsylvania chapter of Planned Parenthood to say, "No, THIS is how you needlessly politicize a family movie."

Now, I want to emphasize that it is not Planned Parenthood in general behind this. It was a series of tweets from one Planned Parenthood branch, specifically the one in Keystone, Pennsylvania. People have been wanting to see Disney's Princess archetype get some updates, feeling that it is outdated. And Disney has been doing so in ways ranging from subtle (Tiana in The Princess And The Frog is initially only a princess because of her presence at a ball, and becomes a real one due to an actually pretty nifty plot twist) to the unflinchingly direct (Frozen is pretty much a complete inversion of all the Disney princess tropes). The person running Planned Parenthood Keystone's Twitter account had some suggestions. Typos are verbatim --


* "We need a disney princess who's had an abortion"

* "We need a disney princess who's pro-choice"

* "We need a disney princess who's an undocumented immigrant"

* "We need a disney princess who's actually a union worker"

* "We need a disney princess who's trans"

I don't know about you, but I'm having trouble picturing a big empowering song and dance number in Frozen 2 as Elsa or Anna get an abortion. How would you even board something like that?

Before I go any further, I want to take a moment to snark at these suggestions. Someone doesn't know their Disney.

As far as a Disney princess who has had an abortion and/or is pro-choice, there may already be one. Meg from Hercules. Within the first few minutes of her screen time, viewers realize this Disney princess is almost certainly not a virgin, and hasn't been in a long long time. If any one of them would support those social stances, it would be her.

Next? A Disney princess who is an undocumented immigrant. That would be Esmeralda from Disney's Hunchback Of Notre Dame back in 1996. Quasimodo's mother is part of a group that sneaks into Paris illegally against Frollo's orders. There's also the plot point of Esmeralda's locket with the secret map to the Court Of Miracles, the gypsies' hideout. If the gypsies were in Paris legally, there would be no need for a secret map to their hideout. QED.

A Disney princess who's actually a union worker? Doesn't being a princess mean you aren't a worker, union or otherwise? Also, aren't unions supposed to provide a counterpoint to management, which a princess would ostensibly be? It simply isn't possible to be both.

...a Disney princess who is trans...that's a toughie. Nothing official, but potentially, we MIGHT have one already and that could be Meg, again from Hercules. Sappho, 'nuff said. Keep in mind, ancient Greeks had a different view of sexual identity -- it was based more on the role the person played in the sex act rather than strictly delineated by gender. So nothing definite, but it is a very real possibility.

So, back to this. Planned Parenthood Keystone deleted the tweets within a couple of hours. But a number of people screenshotted them, and smartasses like myself have downloaded and saved them for posterity. I'm sorry, but somebody really really needed to think twice before posting that.

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