The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway

The story of the story of the feelings behind the film Frozen

The origin of the song ”Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen is recounted in Brené Brown’s book dare to lead and many other business emotional intelligence self help books, a rapidly growing niche.

The Story of the Story of Frozen

Here’s the story, more or less: for the vast majority of production, the movie Frozen felt like a disaster.

No one could figure out the plot. 

Was Elsa a villain or the protagonist? 

Were she and her sister close, did they struggle to get along, were they nemeses?

At the first test screen, the audience was completely silent.

No one laughed, no one cried, nothing. No emotional reactions at all. 

The production team was concerned. I mean, probably everyone was concerned.

So someone at Pixar, someone clearly famous even though I can’t remember their name, gave the director a peptalk. 

“You just have to find the emotions in the story,” he said, the Steve Jobs of Pixar, whatever his name is.

This advice was apparently as indiscernible to the director as it is to me, because the production team continued to flail. 


An Emotional Breakthrough

Then one day, the songwriter for Frozen was feeling vulnerable.

The parents in her child’s playgroup had been judging her silently, behind her back for allowing her child to eat gluten. 

I am not 100% sure this was the exact issue, but it was something like that — the same level of minutiae.

You can probably conjure other equivalent examples for yourself.

At any rate, the songwriter for the children’s movie Frozen felt cast out of the parenting group, severed from belonging.

You just have to let it go, her husband told her, and she felt better, relieved. 

You can see where this is going.

She felt a song coming on.

That Perfect Girl is Gone

By focusing on the emotions of a story, regardless of the situation that inspired that emotion, the Frozen team won.

They made what business emotional intelligence leadership books contend is an unequivocal success: the children’s film Frozen.

The Meaning of the Story of the Story Behind Frozen

I read this story a year ago, incredulous. I wanted to tell everyone I had ever met about this story, but I wasn’t entirely sure what meaning I attached to it. 

There are many tumblrs takes on how let it go is a trans song (specifically a white trans song. Elsa lets societal expectations go, but in the process she also freezes the whole town, you know?).

It is wild to me that a song born out of a struggle I would probably not empathize with on the surface could produce a song that connects so deeply to my emotions.

I don’t care, what they’re going to say

Once, at the Allied Media Conference, I went to a facilitated discussion about radical sobriety.  

It was very fraught, even if the intention of the discussion was well meaning.

No one said much about their own experience of sobriety, their feelings.

No one said much at all beyond the words “radical sobriety” and “politicization of recovery”.

At one point, a blonde white woman started to cry, sharing her experience of being addicted to sugar.

Whatever mental model appears in your mind when you picture a blonde white woman talking about being addicted to sugar will suffice. You’re close enough to the truth.

It was awkward.

Let the Storm Rage On

Someone muttered “you’ve got to be kidding me,”

They muttered it so she didn’t hear, but everyone else did. No one shared after she did.

Of the people in the room, this lady was the only one who felt safe sharing her feelings.

Even though no one in the room wanted to center her experience, she was the only one who shared how she felt, so that’s what happened.

The cold didn’t bother her (just everyone else).




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PS - do you guys remember when John Travolta pronounced Idina Menzel’s name Adele Dazeem? What a time to be alive.