Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The posthumous gendering of Frozen

This post comes out of a new series of writing I do on ASOIAF meta and other topics of popular culture over at the Patreon of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. If you like to read stuff like this, chime in just 1$ and you get access to everything I write. If you throw in 2$, you even get access to mini-podcasts I'm doing with Sean T. Collins answering questions by listeners of the podcast. Give the Patreon a look!
 
I don't know if this is a "Germany only" phenomenon, but I highly doubt it: in the last months, a ton of branded stuff of all stripes - shower gels, chocolate bars, caps, bed sheets, EVERYTHING - has hit all the stores. It always comes in two varieties: Star Wars for boys, Frozen for girls. So you get a black shower gel bottle with Yoda on it, and a pink one with Elza. You get the same damn toothpaste with Anna and with Kylo Ren. And so on and so forth. This isn't restricted to the usual merchandise shops, which is the weird thing about it, it's just about EVERYWHERE, and it's clearly gender-marketed. 
 
This leads to two funny side-effects. On the one hand, they can't really use Rey (and, in extension, Finn) and rely heavily on Kylo Ren and (funny, I know) Phasma to sell their stuff to boys, whereas as Kristoff and his dumb reindeer play virtually no role on the "girlie" side of things when it comes to Frozen. 
 
Now you could say "same old, same old", as gender-marketing has been a thing since the 1980s when the US industry discovered that selling the same stuff twice is actually a sound business model. 
The interesting thing about it when it comes to "Frozen" is that this gender-marketing has been applied posthumously. When Frozen came out (back in the dark ages of 2014) it was explicitly NOT marketed to girls but rather as a family flick, applicable to both sexes, its two female leads downplayed whereever possible (remember how the marketing material featured Olaf as if he was the most important character in the movie and gave Kristoff the same importance as Elza and Anna?). 
My son, who was 2 at the time, really loved "Frozen". He sang "Let it go" all the time, and we had to play the song in the car all the time and sing along to it. He would watch the movie at least once a week. Now when I suggest we'd put it in, he declines. It's for girls, he tells me, nothing he would ever watch. He fiercely denies ever to have liked it. 
 
This makes me sad. I realize the business side of this behind it and all, yes, but Disney is doing itself a major disservice by essentially shutting out half the kids of this experience. The movie was great, and it had important things to say, and its breaking of gender stereotypes was as important as it was relevant. To see it degraded like that breaks my heart.

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