The hot topic on the ‘sphere lately has concerned the psychological impact of Disney’s “Frozen”, on children. It all began when Vox Popoli found a confused grievance written by Trevin Wax, entitled, “Are We Missing the Point of Frozen’s ‘Let It Go’?” (February 17, 2014), and responded with his nihilistic post, “The devil that is Disney” (October 26, 2017).
Then, Dalrock offered not one, but four scathing criticisms in the following posts, in which he either derided or mocked the ignorance shown by Wax and other traditional conservative Christians.
- “It must be exhausting.” (November 13, 2017)
- “Children understand.” (November 13, 2017)
- “Hilarious” (November 14, 2017)
- “Missing the point is hard work.” (November 16, 2017)
Donal Graeme responded to the last post with, “How Hard Is It To Miss The Point?” (November 16, 2017), in which he illucidated the nefarious machinations of Disney. Boxer weighed in too, with a post, “YHBT by Jake LaMotta” (November 17, 2017), in which he made a comment directly back to Wax’s original post (which is yet to be approved, and I believe, it never will be).
The main points of contention raised in these posts, include…
- The culpability of Disney.
- Most adults don’t really care what cartoons their children watch, and so fail to intervene with any poor conditioning that may be present. Or if they do take the time to watch Frozen, they only see that it contains a very positive message, viz. selfish, irresponsible rebellion carries vast, negative consequences which force many others to go to great efforts and sacrifices in order to redeem not only the transgressor (Elsa), but also the larger enterprise (the Kingdom).
- Some adults (e.g. Trevin Wax, Pastor Ross Chandler) might even interpret the larger moral of the story to be a Christian one.
- However (and this is the main point), children only seem to be picking up, and remembering, the emotionally-based, self-centered attitudes of the rebellious character (Elsa), as unequivocally expressed in the main theme song, “Let It Go!”. Furthermore, children learn that Elsa’s disposition is “loved” by the other characters (and likewise children spectators) who consider her to be “worthy” of redemption, and finally, that “everything turns out well in the end”.
It could well be argued that the concepts of rebellion, sacrifice and redemption are indeed Christian themes, and that these themes do appear in the movie. However, only those with a mature understanding of the Christian experience could arrive at such an assessment, certainly not children who are constantly pushing the limits to see how much they can get away with. The general point which Dalrock pertinently expressed in his posts, was that Christians are either in blissful ignorance, feigning denial, or are doing mental gymnastics (AKA psychological dissociation, colloquially known as “hamstering”) to justify the value of the movie as sterling, but are failing to accurately assess the impact that the movie has on their own children.
As Vox suggested, can we really rely on Disney to inspire our children with accurate principles of Christian doctrine and life in general? Scott (from American Dad) points out the insidious spin that most media conglomerates place on the stories they tell.
“…even in movies where the “right” thing does happen, it is portrayed as a tragedy.”
Thus, it is far more relevant to the psychological and spiritual development of the children, for parents to discuss the movie with their children and determine what message children are getting from the movie. Are they really getting the positive, “Christian” message? Or else, are they learning that it is an acceptable practice to “throw themselves down from the temple roof” with the expectation that the Lord will not allow them to “dash their foot against a stone”? (cf. Matthew 4:5-7; Luke 4:9-12) If the latter is the case, then in essence, we are telling them that tempting God is a necessary step towards knowing God – a very dangerous and heretical doctrine!
The agitation that Dalrock expresses for those who are more discerning is, how could parents not pick up on the fact that children are unable to grasp the larger moral of the story? How could parents not be aware of the other message that children are hearing?
Donal Graeme answered this question as follows,
“You see, I think the key is understanding levels of communication. As an adult, Mr. Wax is picking up the (apparent) deeper message of the story. Namely that “letting go” is a disaster of an idea. This deeper message is not surface level- it requires analysis. Maybe not a lot, but analysis nonetheless. And it also requires a certain level of critical viewing skill as well. Guess what kids don’t have? Yeah, that.”
“The problem is that the toxic message is surface level. This is what children are picking up- especially through the music. The song celebrates rebellion, and all its accompanying sins. That is what the children listen to, that is what they sing, and that is what they memorize. They don’t do any of that for the deeper messages of the story (which I assume are present).”
Graeme is alluding to Piaget’s theory of cognitive development (1936), which explains how a child constructs a mental model of the world during their formative years. Piaget’s theory regards cognitive development as a natural result of biological maturation during the child’s interaction with the environment. Piaget identified Four Stages of Cognitive Development, according to unique patterns of psychological processes in children, these being Sensorimotor (ages 0-2), Pre-Operational (ages 2-7), Concrete Operational (ages 7-11), and Formal Operational (ages 11-15). Children who have found the most pleasure and inspiration from Frozen are likely to be in the Pre-Operational Stage, or the Concrete Operational Stage. These are briefly reviewed as follows.
The Pre-Operational Stage (ages 2-7)
Piaget coined the term Precausal Thinking to describe the way in which Pre-Operational children use their own existing ideas or views to understand cause-and-effect relationships. Piaget also noted that Pre-Operational children exercise Transductive Reasoning, which is how a child fails to understand the true relationships between cause and effect, and instead draws a magical relationship between two separate events that are otherwise unrelated. Also, in the Pre-Operative stage, children are Egocentric, which means they can only interpret events through their own viewpoint, and are unable to adequately consider the views of others. They may not even be aware that other viewpoints exist. As a corollary, introducing a new viewpoint can be powerfully influential to the mind of a Pre-Operational child.
From this view, the storyline of Frozen may introduce to young minds some cause-and-effect relationships that are quite sociopathic and/or misguiding. I’ll offer a few possibilities here.
- Rebelling is a way to attract the ego-affirming love and sacrifice of others.
- Holding out or giving up is a good way to get others to do the hard work.
- Pursuing my own pleasures is a fun, easy way to control events.
- No matter what I do, everything will turn out fine in the end.
Concrete Operational Stage (ages 7-11)
Egocentrism is slowly eroded during this stage, through the development of Imaginary Audience which involves attention-getting behavior, and Personal Fable, which creates a sense of personal uniqueness and invincibility. Abstract, hypothetical thinking is not yet developed in children of this stage, so they can only solve problems that apply to concrete events or objects. Children in this stage come to be able to use Inductive Reasoning, which involves drawing inferences from observations in order to make a generalization. However, these children struggle with Deductive Reasoning, which involves using a generalized principle in order to try to predict the outcome of an event. In sum, Concrete Operational children are likely to use the inferences from Frozen to instigate attention-drawing behavior, and feel inculpable for the repercussions. They may not even be aware of any such repercussions. Christian concepts such as grace and redemption appear as abstractions, which are not fully apprehended, neither in value nor application.
Some inductive thought processes which could arise from ingesting Frozen might include these.
- My feelings are more important than my responsibilities.
- People will still love me, and maybe even love me more, if I do bad things.
- It is meaningless to care too much about the details of life.
- There is nothing to fear in life. I can live as I please.
The Other Message
Since it is obvious that children could be picking up any number of messages from a particular sensory input, we now come to the real point, exactly what other message are they hearing?
Vox illustrated an ugly truth which is hard to swallow.
“Disney is run by literal satanists preaching Alistair Crowley’s “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” to children.”
In his second post listed above, Dalrock adds to this by writing,
“Children, including Christian children, understand this best of all. They know what their parents worship, what their parents see as righteous (even if their parents fall short of living the ideal). They know that Frozen and Let It Go is a morality tale that teaches them about our most sacred beliefs.”
And what, pray tell, is that great, glorious moral tale about our most sacred beliefs? Dalrock explains Crowley’s modern religion in his first post (emphasis his),
“Not surprisingly, the message of the song is our standard message to women and girls. The only way women can sin is to deny themselves what they desire*. The song teaches girls and women to stop trying to be the good girl, and embrace a philosophy of No right, no wrong, no rules for me.”
“*Or alternately, to not have high enough self-esteem, which in turn causes them to sin by denying themselves what they desire.”
[Eds. note: Dalrock’s sarcastic reference to “sin” is made relative to the articulated philosophy.]
People will naturally identify with what resonates with their experience, and this is much truer for children. Consider a typical child’s experience these days: The larger feminist-inspired culture, including Churchianity** and liberalized education, television series and the news media. Then also the family structure, which may include a general lack of love and respect, destructive conflict structures, single-parent families, affairs and divorce…
A young child who is being bombarded with erroneous ideologies and spiritually misleading impressions will struggle to find their place, where they fit in, what they should believe, and how they should behave. Above all else, a child desires a sense of belonging within a family, and being loved and cherished in that environment. If a child is finding a disproportionate amount of confusion and hard rules compared to the amount of love and satisfaction they are experiencing, then the message of “Let it go!” can appear very attractive indeed! It is unreasonable to assume that children will look inward, pray to God, and question what is of true lasting value and significance.
Piaget noted that a child’s reality is a dynamic system of continuous change involving states and transformations. Thus, parents should do what they can to ensure that the states a child experiences are consonant, and that those transformations imbued by media and education duly lead to newly well-formed states. In other words, do your best to ensure that your children mature in the correct way, each step of the way.
Proverbs 22:6 (NKJV)
“6 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”
This can work both ways – diligent cultivation produces high quality individuals, whereas, neglect leads to… whatever!
Towards instilling a superlative training and thereby establishing a blessed predestined child, parents should be aware that children do not have the psychological capability to interpret the world in the same way as they do. Thus, parents should be conscientiously circumspect concerning any book, song or movie that entices and excites their child. It would be advantageous for parents to sit with their children while entertaining such media, and talk them through each part of the stories being conveyed. Check their understanding of other’s viewpoints, Review their cognitions about cause and effect events. If you feel that a particular source is unsuitable for your child’s development, then explain to them why you feel it is so. They may not understand your reasoning, but they will know that it is important to you, and that you care enough to be involved with their life.
Teachers and friends also bear a significant influence on a child’s development, and should also be reviewed and vetted.
** Churchianity: Refers to a perverted, corrupted form of Christianity which is no longer consistent with basic Christian teaching and doctrine. Does not refer to sectarian splits, or arguments between faith traditions (i.e. Catholic vs. Orthodox vs. Protestant). Churchianity is heavily infected by modernism/liberalism, and would be unrecognizable to early Christians as representing the Christian faith. In many respects, Churchianity is what happens when people attempt to reconcile their worldly views with Christianity. Rather than conforming to God, they conform to the world, and “adjust” their religious beliefs so that their faith is compatible with their worldly beliefs.
- Raging Vanity: Let it go? “Frozen”. (November 20, 2014)
- Saving Eve: And Now A Word From Disney… (January 26, 2018)