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Making Kids More Woke in Frozen II

Making Kids More Woke in Frozen II

Disney is not known for making kids more woke. Sure, they are often on trend for cultural movements like being super queer friendly and paying lip-service to environmentalism (Pocahontas, Moana). But with Frozen 2, Disney has blown up princess tropes and jumped feet-first into seriously complex themes of world society.

We saw Frozen 2, this weekend. We spent a lot of time time with Arendelle Royalty several years ago. There was no way not to catch up with the Norwegian gang.

Frozen 2 blew my expectations to smithereens by (making kids more woke).

(And I was out for blood.)

Don’t get me wrong: over all, it’s fine. Frozen 2 is often ridiculous (a fire-creating chameleon? WTF?), perennially frustrating – seriously with the Barbie doll figures and ginormous eyes?), and occasionally touching (here’s looking at you: Olaf animators.)

But my main takeaway was the dense story. Frozen 2 dives into pagan nature worship and the betrayal of indigenous peoples by Western society. It’s utterly over the kids’ heads, I’d say. But down the line, the movie is making kids more woke. And I am HERE for it!

Exploration of pagan spirituality.

Frozen 2 has a through-line celebrating the nature-worship of the Northuldra, an indigenous tribe based on the Scandinavian Sámi peoples. (It was this culture that inspired the opening song in the first movie.) The Frozen 2 writers and directors signed a contract with the Sámi to avoid appropriation and respectfully celebrate their indigenous culture.

Throughout Europe before the continental subversion of the Catholic church, pagan societies worshiped nature. They turned with the seasons, lived as one with flora and fauna, and shared a spirituality with the energy flowing throughout the world. These people worshiped five elements of nature: water, fire, wind, earth and then that “fifth element” nebulously defined as love/humanity/spirituality. (Yes, Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element is about this spirituality albeit set in the future.)

It is these five elements of pagan worship that drive the plot points of Frozen 2. There’s never been a Disney movie that dives so deep into environmental spirituality.

But then, with the growth of the Catholic church across the continent, competition and domination were the operating forms of societal organization. A symbiotic relationship with nature was replaced by fear and avoidance of the natural world. (Don’t stray from the path, avoid the wolves, “be good, don’t be wild”, state all of our nursery rhymes and fairy tales from Western “civilization”…and further developed by earlier Disney movies.)

Anyway. Back to the five elements.

We come to find that Elsa’s frozen magic has come from the marriage of her Arendelle father to her mother who was part of the Northuldra tribe. And her magic came from this environmental worship of the four elements. She is, in fact, the fifth element, placing her next to Milla Jovovich’s character in Baz Luhrman’s Fifth Element.

Betrayal of indigenous populations.

Further, Frozen II allegorically addresses the betrayal of indigenous populations by Western conquerors. It turns out that Arendelle society harnessed and limited the magic in nature when the “old white patriarch” literally stabs the indigenous leader in the back.

Modern world civilization has been built on the backs of Native American genocide, African enslavement, and Asian colonization. Western societies have profited from the stabbing in the back of indigenous peoples throughout the world. All of these societies had symbiotic relationships with nature. (Meanwhile, Western/European society has always tried to harness nature.)

The themes of the five elements and subjugation of indigenous peoples is not fully fleshed out in Frozen 2. It’s a movie with complex themes shoved between tongue-in-cheek 80’s power ballads and whatever tangent Olaf follows. But I appreciate that I will be able to point my kids to Frozen 2 for a simple jumping off point for deeper exploration of life’s complex themes.

For that, I thank you, Disney. You done good.

Real New York and Techie Thrills

Real New York and Techie Thrills

The fabric of real New York is often obscured by exasperation. The city’s too expensive, too crowded, too corporate and has sold out to international investors parking nefarious earnings in apartments that are driving up prices for all the rest of the people actually living here.

Everything authentic from independent designers to diners has closed cuz rent is too damn high.

But occasionally, one stumbles upon scrappy outposts that harken to the creative energy making real New York colorful and exciting.

This happened to me, recently, and inspired me to actually get off my lazy ass and write one of those forever-threatened (but never executed) Yelp reviews – a love letter to the creative types who pursue passion and make real New York badass.

Dear Louis Rossman – You made me fall in love with New York, again.

So my computer blanked out on me over the summer.

I stood up from typing to refill my coffee, returned seconds later, and the computer had turned off. Weird.

I clicked the track pad, then the space and return buttons (somewhere between two and seventy-six times) with varying degrees of force. Then I hit the on/off switch.

It re-booted and miraculously re-started for fifteen seconds until: poof.

My screen went dark.

And I couldn’t revive it.

The inside of Grand Central is stunning.
Grandiose location, location, location.

The next day, I went to the Apple Store in Grand Central (talk about spectacular location) and the Apple Genius diagnosed it as “electronic anomaly.”

Me: Huh?

Him: It happens more than you realize.

Me: Huh?

Him: Did you have it backed up?

Me: LOLz.

Him: It’s only 2 years old. For $450 we can send it away for a new motherboard.

Me: Will my 736 documents randomly strewn across my desktop be saved?

Him: Most likely not.

Me: Welp, how do I do that?

Him (suddenly under his breath and leaning closer to me): There’s this guy on the Lower East Side. My colleagues around me would be pissed if I told you about him. But go to him.

(And the Genius Bar guy typed out a phone number on his iPad to show me.)

The outside of Rossmann Group - unassuming, but thrilling.
Short on charm, long on results.

A few hours later, I stumbled upon the least charming storefront in New York City and walked in. A dude at a workstation a few feet from the front window had multiple monitors and cameras pointing at him, his desk, his hands, and his face.

View of the inside of Rossmann Group - a cacophony of bustling workers and video cameras.
Cameras at all angles. (I was too afraid to snap pic of him at desk. Sorry.)

He looked at me, said hello, then turned back to his work while saying, “What can we do for you?”

It was very efficient – not overly Midwestern-ly warm, nor in that NYC way of mild annoyance at being in the service industry.

Also, I felt like I’d stepped into Mr. Robot.

He was Louis Rossman. The owner and head technician. Or as he later said to me, “The Mac Janitor.”

I explained my situation, he nodded, took my computer and immediately unscrewed the microscopic screws, himself.

Taking in the entirety of his operation, there were four or five more technicians doing varying things in the workplace – answering phones, organizing boxes, and presumably repairing all manner of tech. It was the organized chaos usually hidden from public eye but that makes real New York so much more exciting. It was thrilling to witness because it had the air of scrappy DIY’ers saving technical lives. I stared until jolted from my awe as Louis piped up at me: Yep. Your motherboard. I can replace it for $350 in a couple days and transfer data for $100.

Me: Is my data safe?

Louis: Is it backed up?

Me: LOL. No.

He pulls some thing looking like a micro thumb drive out of my motherboard and says, “Looks fine.”

He grabs another laptop near him, puts my data thumb drive thingy into that computer’s hard drive, hands it to me and says, “Start uploading to Google drive.”

So I turned on this other random computer that suddenly had all my data on it.

Huh. That’s how it works? Everything that makes my computer mine is imprinted on that mini-thumb drive and plugs into the other doo-hickey that must be a motherboard but looks like the crumb tray in a toaster.

I copied my ten million documents to upload.

Google drive told me it would take approximately 3 hours.

I sat there for one hour watching the status of my upload tick down far too slowly. Meanwhile, Louis was a wonder.

Totally organized chaos.

At the same time that he dissected a computer (I didn’t realize it was mine…his hands worked so quickly and, well…they all look the same), under the watchful eye of his multiple cameras, he calmly answered questions of his employees who shouted out without care of interrupting him, answered the consistent main phone line, and greeted every single European tourist, hipster, delivery person and desperate person like me without the slightest hint of being overwhelmed.

He was a master – unshakably calm at the epicenter of a business driven by panicking techno-idiots like myself. We rubes who dropped, shook, spilled upon and generally abused our phones and laptops were the cogs in the wheel making his business hum at a mind-boggling tempo.

An hour later, he hands me my computer, says, “Stop your back-up. Just put it back in here.”

My computer was fixed.

Him: You had water damage. But I didn’t see any spills.

Me: Weird. Could it be humidity?

Him: Yep.

He popped onto the monitor in front of him and reversed the real-time video screen to show me the motherboard he’d just fixed. He pointed out a circuit that had blown and apparently started a chain reaction. (Or something. Not sure I understood it all.)

And he said, “I record my work for all the nerds who like to watch these videos of me tinkering.”

That’s what all those screens and cameras were for – his multi-view YouTube station bursting with videos of him tinkering.

It was amazing and hilarious.

And he only charged me for the new motherboard.

Louis – you fixed my computer in an hour and for $100 (and a week) less than Apple.

You’re the real deal and you make the fabric of real New York so much more livable.