For once, I was watching a Disney Cartoon that was not weaving a happily ever after around a dashing Prince Charming who would sweep the princess of her feet and she would retire from life and retreat into making babies – world without end.
Brave tells the story of a Scottish princess who did not want to get married – please trust me, this is not an anti marriage talk – she just wanted to be free to be her, do her and explore her potentials to its limits and beyond. Her mother did not think so, and her attempts to match-make her daughter with potentially viable Scottish princes almost led to disaster.
The resolution of the plot however, soon had everyone learning to allow people be themselves and discover themselves – whether love or marriage would be a part of that discovery should not be a matter of compulsion or trying to fulfil some expectations of you as a “girl” or “woman”, but should be as a result of having found yourself FIRST as a girl or woman AND choosing to take that next step.
Of course I thought to myself, it helped that Disney had presented the worst images of “Princes” ever. See, not even a desperate, homely, wife material woman would consent to being yoked to any of the trio, how much less a strong opinionated woman like Princess Merida.
It would have been nice to see her resist a hunky Prince that had it all – the brawn, the brains and the beauty. Disney made it too easy for her to say No to the misfit princes and chase her dreams.
The first time I watched “Brave” I was going to write about it, watching it again as a captive audience, I felt the strong themes jump out again, but that was shortly before I followed it up with Disney’s “Frozen” – which I watched, again, as a “hostage”.
I think Frozen is a treasure trove of themes and lessons that every girl (whether they are 4 or 40), needs to apply in their lives. If you have got time on your hands over the long vacation, sit down with your daughters or nieces or younger cousins and try to watch some Disney animations and cartoons. Not just for the entertainment value even though they are so relatable, everyone can watch and enjoy them, but also because behind all the laughs are little nuggets that jump out at you unexpectedly, rich and bursting with life’s lessons.
So, here are five from Frozen, feel free to add on any more you have found in the most unlikely cartoon or animation for children, and let’s spread the love around.
1. When you lock away your abilities, talents and gifts because you do not understand the power you have in you or are afraid of hurting others with what you have, you do the whole world a disservice. Princess Elsa was born with a “curse”, everything she touched would freeze into Crystal ice.
Her parents were fearful of this “curse” being known around the country and so they locked her up. She couldn’t test those potentials, try them to the limits and learn to control them and so because she was hidden away, she ran wild with her powers whenever she unleashed them. Living her worst fears, causing more harm than good with those powers.
We really should mind how we speak and handle any gifts and talents we find in our children, encourage them, nurture them, teach them to explore, contain and control, rather than hide away and bottle it all up.
2. Sometimes “strong” women make stupid emotional decisions.
Elsa’s sister Anna meets a man, falls in love, gets bethrothed same day and virtually hands over power and authority as the next in line to the throne, to this virtual stranger.
Yet Anna is a strong, calculative, highly rational young woman. We see her take decisions on the spur of the moment that astound people, fight off wolves, organise people to render help, etc…
But that one moment when emotions were involved, probably because she saw freedom from the confines of the palace as an “opportunity to fall in love and live happily ever after”, she disappointed her entire generation.
Here’s what I think is important here: most times, parents cloister their children so much that at the first sign of “freedom”, they lose it and go right over the edge. Some of the wildest students we had in school, were children of overtly controlling and religious parents. They saw their “freedom” as an opportunity to break free and made stupid decisions.
Learn to give your children a little space to explore. We all have fears that they grow up too soon but any attempts to control and contain them, could have the exact opposite of the desired result. Don’t raise kids who are book smart, street smart, have sharp business and survival instincts but are fools in matters of the heart.
Usually, most devastating life outcomes are related to hasty relationship decisions. Sometimes, issues of love and relationship should be approached with the same level of scrutiny applied to business decisions. I mean with business, you could lose money but with matters of the heart, you lose a whole lot more.
3. Princess Elsa, on her coronation day and trying to prevent her sister Anna from taking a rash decision, unleashed her power. She runs away and lives on her own, on her own terms and surrounded by nothing but her power which even though it leaves everyone in awe of her, leaves her empty and dissatisfied.
See, power is good. Talent is good but at some point between discovering the talent and power you have in you and going all gangster on the world with it, should be a point of realisation that talents applied wrongly, boomerang on the bearer.
And that is related to lesson number one. Don’t stifle talent for so long that when one discovers the powers they have in them, they morph into an enfant terrible, leaving behind them a trail of destruction from wrong application of those talents.
Some words said can never be recalled, some actions taken can never be undone.
4. Anna and Elsa have a royal quarrel when Elsa refuses to give her approval to a hasty engagement and marriage. Anna lashes out in anger and speaks words that hit Elsa at her most vulnerable spots. Elsa leaves the palace in anger and both sisters are alienated.
Anna however, sets out to make amends and is willing to give her all, to heal the strained relationship.
See, it is never too late to eat the humble pie. When you have misbehaved, know that it takes nothing away from you to apologise sincerely and try to make amends in every way possible.
If you are the offender, get off your high horse and accept the fact that the offendee has the right to decide they want nothing else to do with you ever. It is up to you to make amends and set things right in any way possible and using every thing at your disposal.
Don’t milk the situation for your own good. Don’t make it your pity party. Don’t try to make it all about you. And whatever you do, if you ever truly cherished a relationship, don’t let it die because you are too proud to make amends.
5. Lastly, when the person you disgraced your entire generations for to prove “love” eventually proves those that viewed him (or her) with suspicion right, grow the balls to walk away and never look back.
Anna’s love interest Hans, turns out to be a righteous buffoon who was willing to kill Anna and Elsa in order to be king.
When Anna and Elsa reconcile, she does not go around attempting to give him a “second chance”, she knocked him out cold with a punch and ensured he was jailed for his excesses.
Let us learn to walk away. It is not weakness to walk away from a dead end relationship, it is not failure. It is a sign of courage to accept that you have been had once, but you are not willing to lie down and keep taking sh*t because you took the first one lying low.
We keep hearing ‘stories that touch’ because one partner did not quite kill the other at the first attempt. So we keep going back, we keep forgiving and forgetting, we keep attempting suicide until the day our r accomplice deals us the fatal blow.
Stories that touch!
See one important life lesson is never to give a sucker a second chance to try to take your life. If you survive that first attempt, knock out that sucker… take a walk.
Cartoons may tell fantastical stories of some fantasy lives, but reality sure has a whole lot to learn from them.
Read more from Viola
Letter to the wife of “my” Aristo – Viola Okolie