Can we talk some more about this one scene in Disney’s Frozen please?

Pardon my late arrival to the party, but I finally caught the phenomenon that is Disney’s Frozen. Surely you know already that everyone has been buzzing about how wonderful, subversive, feminist (or maybe not), and groundbreaking the movie is. I agree with much of the praise and criticism that’s been thrown in the movie’s direction, so I won’t bore you by adding my own. Instead I’d like to talk about one short, but powerful moment that occurs near the end of the movie. It’s been touched upon, briefly, in a few other places, but it was such a standout moment that I think it deserves some more attention. So what moment in the film am I talking about? Here, see for yourself {warning: spoilers ahead}:

Any guesses as to why this scene pleases me so much? It depicts someone ASKING before acting (AKA seeking consent)! In case you didn’t watch the clip, before kissing the princess, Kristoff the love interest, asks for her permission (he does lose a few points for grabbing Anna, lifting her in the air and spinning her around without asking though). Not only does he seek consent but he starts by laying his feelings on the table first. In a fit of excitement, Kristoff declares to Anna; “I could kiss you!” which he follows up with; “I mean I’d like to” and finally the ask; “may I?”

This may mean nothing to you, but as an educator who talks constantly about the importance of obtaining consent, it was pretty amazing to watch. I say amazing because when you compare this moment to all the other romantic, first-kiss moments in not just Disney movies, but all movies and television shows, you understand just how rare it is. Look for example at this YouTube video counting down the “top 15 Disney kisses” (according to YouTube user ForeverTheDisneyKids):

Did you see any asking going on? I sure didn’t. I saw plenty of sneak-attack-kisses, but no asking. What about television shows? Are those any better? Not based on my decades of television watching… or this collection on YouTube:

Consider for a minute the scene from the beloved show Boy Meets World. I don’t know the back story that resulted in lead character Cory being handcuffed to a locker… a kinky love game between Cory and love interest Topanga perhaps? Nah, I highly doubt it. Cory never consented to being kissed, but it happened anyway. There a term for that and if you’ve read my blog before (or have any familiarity with some pretty common laws) you know what it is.

But wait, there’s more… How about this collection of movie kisses:

First off, I don’t blame you if you couldn’t sit through all those clips, but you didn’t have to watch long to catch the trend. It’s pretty clear that in movies, on television, and just about any other form of media I’ve encountered, nobody ever asks before pouncing (I take that back, out of all of those clips 1… O.N.E. of them featured someone asking for a kiss).

Now, before you start looking at me sideways, I’m well aware that not every kiss requires a verbal ask. In a lot of these scenes it’s pretty clear via body language that both parties want to suck-face. But these are scripted, fantasy moments. In real life we don’t always know if the person we want to kiss wants the same. In real life, making assumptions can lead to serious trouble, yet we’re taught that it’s uncool to ask, check-in or communicate in any way. And in real life, non-consensual sexual contact (AKA sexual assault) and non-consensual sex (AKA rape) are real issues that occur far to frequently.

Is it too much for Hollywood to depict asking as a normal activity that can be hot, fun, sexy, cute and desirable? I think not. What do you say Hollywood? Can we get a little more asking with our kissing? If you need inspiration, look no further than this Oscar winning, mega-money-making success story for inspiration. Audience dollars have spoken. It’s time you start listening.

 

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