Menu Home

Month: February 2014

“Let It Go” is a song of evil

By which I mean, the popular song from Disney’s Frozen is not an anthem for an attitude that would be at all healthy to have in the real world.  Embracing indifference is not exactly something to celebrate.

After all, let’s not forget what the song is about: a sad, scared, angry queen embracing indifference toward the world.  The philosophy she is deciding on is evil.

Let’s look at some lyrics that reflect the evil Elsa’s embracing:

  • Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know – Hints out how she was dealing with her problem wrongly from the beginning.
  • Let it go, let it go, Turn away and slam the door – She’d rather evade her problems than face them.
  • Let the storm rage on – She has no consideration for who that storm may be hurting.
  • The fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all – She’s replacing them with all new fears, particularly the fear of facing others with her uncontrollable powers, or letting others, like her sister, try to help her at all.
  • No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I’m free – Oh dear!  The most obviously evil lyrics here.  No right or wrong?!  Yikes.
  • You’ll never see me cry – She’s embracing indifference.  Not good.
  • I’m never going back, the past is in the past – It’s one thing to forgive yourself and move on, it’s another thing to stop caring completely, which is clearly what she’s doing.
  • The cold never bothered me anyway – Again, she’s embracing indifference.  And she’s lying.  Her powers have always bothered her and they’re still bothering her.

So, it’s a song about embracing indifference toward the world and her self-image.  Though cathartic, it’s clearly not the right solution to her problem.

And the storytellers know this, of course.  The song isn’t her climactic solution to her problems after which she lives happily ever after.  The song portrays her creation of even bigger problems, both in her own heart and the outside world that she’s cutting herself off from and plunging into eternal winter.  Her living alone in an ice castle out in the mountain boonies is never portrayed as a good thing.  In “letting go” of her concern for control of her powers and her self-image (an effort which initially came from a genuinely good place, even if she was dealing with it wrong from the very beginning, after being traumatized by injuring her little sister), she still holds on to the fear that keeps her away from her kingdom.  If she was truly “letting go” of what she needed to let go of (her self-image fear, her over-self-consciousness), she wouldn’t feel any need to stay away from her kingdom and those she loves, particularly her sister.

Story-wise, the song serves the same purpose as Sweeney Todd’s “Epiphany” (though Todd’s pledge is much more sinister – to murder innocent victims until he can get revenge) and as Elphaba’s “Defying Gravity.”  In Sweeney Todd and Wicked, such goal-changing decisions eventually lead to tragedy in one form or another.  Fortunately in Frozen, Elsa realizes her mistake and changes by the story’s end, thanks to her sister.  Still, her song is about a character who’s been struggling with something and is deciding to embrace a clearly wrong answer.

But of course that’s also what gives the song it’s power, in the dramatic sense; we can relate to Elsa’s emotions completely, even if we know she’s choosing the wrong thing.

But that’s also why it’s a bit funny to see videos of young children belting out the song proudly.  They’re singing about becoming evil.  Yes, I know it may be over some of their heads, but I still find it funny.  The music is great, but its beauty and power are misleading, as is Elsa being all smiley and happy about it; the philosophy she’s embracing is ugly and tragic.  After all, I don’t think we want children to actually let go of things like worrying about right and wrong.

The right answer to Elsa’s problem: love (as Elsa learns by the film’s end).  The wrong answer: cold indifference (as Elsa embraces with “Let It Go”).

So when you sing “Let It Go” while taking your evil shower (Sims joke), let’s hope you’re not singing the lyrics with actual conviction.  Because that would be, you know, evil.

We must become saints

Author John C. Wright has written a long essay called Restless Heart of Darkness. He writes in the first part:

At the risk of giving away the surprise ending (which, honestly, I suppose is not a surprise to anyone but me) I realized why it is that the current mainstream modern thought, despite its illogical and pointless nature, is so persistent, nay, so desperate.

I realized why they never admit they are wrong no matter how obvious the error, nor can they compromise, nor hold a rational discussion, nor a polite one, nor can they restrain themselves. They can neither win nor surrender.

I realized why their hearts were so restless. It is obvious once one sees it.

The essay has four parts: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, and Part Four. It is a long read, but should be of interest to anyone who, like me, finds himself constantly growing confused and angry with the direction of the modern world. (And it’s not just a matter of blaming a younger generation; I’m twenty-eight, still a bit too young to do that. But it won’t be long!)

I quote the essay’s conclusion here (with a few typos fixed), which I found to be the best part. (Yes, I’m blatantly giving away the surprise ending.) It was something I needed to read at the exact moment I did, as if it were answering my thoughts:

Despair is the key. It explains nearly everything that is so puzzling about the madness of modern life, the pack of self-contradictory dogmas that make up the default assumptions of the Dark Ages in which we live.

They have nothing else. No wonder they are bitter. No wonder they are irrational. No wonder they lie like dogs. No wonder they boast. No wonder they are full of envy and malice. No wonder they kill babies in the womb and fete socialist dictators and mass murderers. No wonder they love death. No wonder they admire, protect and love Islamic terrorists. No wonder they admire, protect, and love sexual perversion.

It is because they have nothing else. They live in a world of darkness, without hope, with nothing but their seven great friends to sustain them: pride, which they call self esteem; envy, which they call social justice; wrath, which they call activism and protest; sloth, which they call enlightenment; gluttony, which they call health food and legalization of recreational drugs; greed, which they call fairness in taxation; lust, which they call sexual liberation.

The modern age is suffering from spiritual and philosophical starvation in the midst of what should be the greatest feast of mind and spirit imaginable. Someone has told them offal was food and food was poison, and so they gnaw on foul things which cannot satisfy them, which make their hungers grow. They are dying of thirst, and someone offers them seawater to drink.

Let us now and forever eschew anger and indignation at these creatures. They are like blind kittens who cling and claw and scratch the hands that come to feed and comfort. No man should be angered at a blind scratch.

Neither should we do them the honor of assuming theirs is a philosophy, political or otherwise, or a coherent worldview, or anything that can be discussed or debated. It is a dream, a delirium, a vision, a nightmare.

Surely was can answer, or at least fend off, any questions they might have concerning our vision, which is brighter and better and sane and whole and true, because more often than not, it is a frivolous reason, a matter of mere emotion, which prevents them from seeing this light. Their eyes are closed, their reason is dark. Reason is of limited use to them, who have no faith in reason.

Beauty is the key to lure them into opening their eyes. I mean not merely the physical beauty in song and architecture and story telling where Christendom has no lack and has no peers; I mean also the beauty of virtue, of charity, of sympathy, of humanity, of heroism, of martyrdom.

Did not the sheer mind-boggling beauty of Mother Teresa of Calcutta attract more skeptics to our banners than did the sneering sarcastic ugliness of Christopher Hitchens attract to his?

They are lost in the dark. That is the truth that stabbed my soul like lightning. They wander in their jerky motions from one idle fashion and meaningless fancy to the next not because they are bored, but because they are desperate, because they are starving.

To cure them we must love them. That is what I saw.

To cure them, we must be a light to them.

We must actually live up to the difficult, nay, the impossible task of becoming saints, as humble and glorious as stars in the host of heaven.

We must first cure ourselves.

February projects

Here’s a short random update on what I hope to be working on this month:

Middle grade fantasy novel

I’m almost finished the first draft of my second attempt at a middle grade fantasy novel. I only have a few more chapters left to write. This month, I hope to finish this draft, edit it, write and perfect a good query letter to represent the novel, and once again begin an agent search.

Short stories

I am working on co-writing two short stories. I will probably also write some short stories on my own after I begin my agent search.

Nickelodeon’s animated shorts program

According to this post from Cartoon Brew:

[Nickelodeon] will choose a minimum of 10 pitches to develop into shorts that will appear on air, on Nick.com, and the Nick app. The shorts also have the potential to be developed into full series…

I put together pitch material for an animated series proposal back in 2012. This looks like a great opportunity to put the material to good use. I somehow missed this program last year, probably because I was busy finishing my first fantasy novel (which never went anywhere, thus becoming my first “trunk novel”). So I hope to write and storyboard a potential animated short featuring my characters.