Frozen as a Critique of Fairytales?

Nov 12, 2014 by

If you aren’t subscribed to the PBS Idea Channel on Youtube, I’ll give you a few minutes to excuse yourself while you click on over and rectify that error.

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Go ahead, I’ll wait.

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Still haven’t clicked over yet? Click here! Or here! Or even here!

Seriously, the PBS Idea Channel is a brilliant blend of ADHD media overload, memes, pop and internet cultural, all rolled up into the wonderfully intellectual ether that PBS tends to create. In short, it’s a “thinking millennial’s” internet show. I’ve blogged about it before, but I’ve been catching up on my viewing this week, and I stumbled across their episode from July 2014, in which the host, Mike Rugnetta, describes Frozen as a fairytale meant to critique other fairytales. And he actually does a really great job of supporting that premise; compared to the original source material (Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen“), the evil queen is made good, a younger sister is invented, the handsome prince is turned evil, and the evil Duke is turned into a bumbling simpleton. Good characters wield “evil magic”, the true love at the heart of the story is that of siblings, not love interests, and it presents a “vaguely progressive” notion of what fairytales should be. You can watch below, or right here!

Where am I going with this? The entire episode is built around the question of “WHY” Frozen was so popular, and Mike’s thesis of it being a critique on other fairytales is what he claims gave it universal appeal. How amazingly fun would it be to offer up the same challenge to you students? Task them to build their own case as to why “Frozen” was so popular, and then challenge them to support it using literature, video, audio, pop culture, and any other form of media. It would make for an interesting mix of traditional persuasive writing and more modern digital storytelling tropes. If I were in a secondary English classroom I would LOVE to challenge my students with something like this as a “quickfire” exercise at least twice a month; if nothing else, the playfulness of it would be helpful to lighten things up from time to time.

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