Christian broadcaster Kevin Swanson is not the first person to suggest that Disney’s Frozen is an attempt by Hollywood to push gay rights, but he is certainly the most offended by it. This is what he had to say when he shared his interpretation of the latest push-back on their religious values with his congregation.
“Friends, this is evil, just evil. I wonder if people are thinking: ‘You know I think this cute little movie is going to indoctrinate my 5-year-old to be a lesbian or treat homosexuality or bestiality in a light sort of way.’… This is fracturing our society and I can see how it might, I can see how some parents might be very strong, they don’t want their children indoctrinated in any way into the lifestyle of sodomy.”
It’s an “interesting” viewpoint, but perhaps more interesting is that Swanson crafted this theory despite not seeing the movie. Film is an inherently subjective medium, but usually those being subjective have actually seen the movie. Still, why should that stop him from conjecturing about what the filmmakers meant? It is possible that the tale of Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) could just be a tweak to the standard princess template, but projecting a LGBT theme onto the picture makes it a much easier target for criticism and gives Swanson a soapbox to stand on.
Swanson is not alone in his crusade against Hollywood films he considers to be ”evil.” The Muppets and The Lego Movie both received negative attention from outlets for being both anti-capitalism and pro-socialism, respectively. Now the characters of Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) and President Business (Will Ferrell) both could be perceived as scathing indictments of capitalism, but to judge either of those films as a Marxist condemnation of western society is a fool’s errand. The aforementioned villains Richman and President Business are only a small part of both films, yet pundits on certain morning talk shows would have audiences believe that Kermit is going to personally register their children to the Communist Party.
Are all of the films Hollywood puts out going to be a breeze for people like Kevin Swanson to sit through? No. Yet that has never been the case for not just religious conservatives, but for any audience member. Movies contain any given number of subjects and chances are at least one of those subjects is going to be found offensive to someone or another, but constructing themes that may not be there only turns what could be valuable film criticism into burning straw men.
As Sam Adams at CriticWire notes “the problem lies in foisting one ironclad interpretation upon the film and then praising or damning it for its point of view, without acknowledging that the argument says much more about the person making it than Frozen itself.” Watching films lends itself to vastly different readings of films, but when a narrow take—or one that possibly isn’t there at all—swallows all discussion of that film whole, it’s doing a disservice to the craft.