Wednesday, 30 March 2016

10 Things I Hate About Disney's Frozen

You never think it's going to happen to you. You do everything you can to avoid it but some things have a certain inevitability that transcends circumstance or reason, and one such scourge has hit our household. 

Yes, Blake is going through a Frozen phase.

I quite liked Frozen the first time I saw it - the main character has a pretty dress, gravity defying hair and some banging vocals - but, at this point in time, I have seen it every single day for the past week. I no longer quite like Frozen. In fact, I would go so far as to say I fucking despise it. It isn't irrational hatred either; I have actual (fairly) well reasoned arguments as to why it's so bloody awful and it isn't just about the frequency with which I encounter it. Please note: if you have somehow managed to avoid this atrocity of a film but plan to inflict it upon yourself at some point despite everyone's warnings, this list contains spoilers.

10. The Trolls are not helpful.

They may have the catchiest musical number, but the Trolls are not the helpful, wizened creatures that they're made out to be. They're the ones to whom the King turns when his magical child injures his non-magical one. They are then the ones to whom the non-magical no-longer-a child turns to when her magical sister freezes her heart, but do they actually help? Erm, no. The oldest Troll makes some vague comments about fear and then later about love, but none of it seems to really mean anything, and the characters interpret them however they want anyway; a bit like horoscopes, really. In fact, if they were upfront with the King in the first place - if old dude Troll just said "Look, if Elsa gets scared, she freezes shit. If you show her the normal warmth and affection a minor should be able to expect from her family, it's all going to be fine" - then none of that Eternal Winter bullshit need ever have happened. 

9. The characters can't act.

How is that even possible? Anna and Elsa are animated, yet they somehow manage to make the cast of Hollyoaks look like worthy BAFTA contenders.

8. The songs are crap.

As Disney movies go, the songs from Frozen are pretty weak. The one about love being an open door is downright detestable. The only reason that everyone loved Let It Go so much is that Idina Menzel hits some pretty savage high notes and we all liked to pretend that we could do it too. There's something about pretending to be someone that can actually sing that feels all sorts of empowering. It's just a trick that Disney use to make us think that the songs we're singing are actually good.

7. Anna doesn't know what she wants to be.

The writers have tried to make Anna simultaneously a kooky, modern take on the Disney Princess, while maintaining that same traditional air of "I want me some Prince Charming" and it doesn't quite work. No amount of Anna's trademark awkwardness or exclamations of "Wait, what?" can make up for the fact that she's completely willing to marry a man that she's known for approximately ten minutes. She's also a pretty shit judge of character because that man later leaves her for dead.

6. The best character has no lines.

Of his own anyway, although someone else occasionally speaks for him. Yes, I'm talking about the reindeer.

5. The King and Queen are terrible parents.

Firstly: Elsa - The monarchs blame their obviously terrified young daughter for her powers and the damage that they have caused, essentially imprisoning her in her bedroom as a result. And let us not forget that this story is a fairy tale and, unless I'm mistaken, if your first born is shot out into the world bearing some kind of curse then one or both parents are usually to blame. Presumably, at some point in the Queen's pregnancy, someone stole a radish from a witch or had a goblin spin some wool into gold or something, and now they're transferring blame onto their poor, afflicted offspring.

Secondly: Anna - Poor Anna. She literally does nothing wrong and gets locked in the castle, apparently completely ignored by her entire family. She's talking to a Joan of Arc painting, for fuck's sake.

4. Elsa is horrible.

I get that Anna is the heroine. I also get that Elsa is supposed to be teetering on the edge of being a villain; that's sort of the whole point of the film, but they could have at least made her relatable .  Instead, we're supposed to get onboard with a character who has apparently never felt any love for any other human at all, or her powers would have abated, and who has designed herself an outfit that makes her look like she's wearing an ill-fitting strapless bra.

3. The ice rink at the end.

As a 'treat' for her people after accidentally subjecting them to a deep and torturous winter for a bit, Queen Elsa decides that they've had enough summer for five minutes and turns the town square into a snowing ice rink. What the actual fuck? It's like some kind of sick joke.

2. It tries to be a feminist masterpiece and fails miserably.

Ah, the big plot twist: the act of true love that unfreezes Anna's heart has nothing to do with men; it's all about the sisters love for each other. Alone, that's actually pretty cool. I like the way Disney decided to turn that old chestnut on its head - it's just a shame that it's attached to a film that is largely about the fact that women have no demonstrable control over their emotions. There is also a weird subtext that seems to suggest that Elsa is less Ice Queen and more just Frigid Spinster when Prince Hans says "Elsa was preferable, of course, but no one was getting anywhere with her". Wow.

1. I can't escape it.

I don't have to watch it. I can go and make dinner or fold washing or feed the baby and avoid the entire film altogether, and yet I still wake up with For The First Time in Forever in my head every morning. I know you're lonely, Anna, but get the fuck out of my head for one bloody day!

But he likes it, so whatever...

Monday, 28 March 2016

An Ode to The New Mums

I saw it on your face today 
As you tried to keep the tears at bay,

A weary fear that masked your eyes

And told of hours filled with cries.

"Will it always be like this?
Will sleep be something I'll always miss?
Will I ever feel like my shit's together? 
Or will I feel this lost forever?"
I saw it on your face today
As I smiled and promised it would be okay.
You're sick of words that don't ring true
From people who aren't going through
This constant shit storm,
When misery has become the norm.
But I promise you we're being sincere
When we say that easier days are near.
We've been there, we know it's hard
But relief is genuinely on the cards.
The newborn days are ones of joy...
And terror, exhaustion and being annoyed,
But remember that this too shall pass,
That the terrifying parts don't last. 
Your nipples will heal and you will sleep
And safe from these memories your brain will keep
You. Because you will forget,

And I'm here, willing to bet
That just as things reach a state of zen,

You'll decide to do it all over again.

I get it. Really, I do.

Monday, 7 March 2016

The Fear

It's said that being frightened makes you feel alive. I can confirm this fact because I experience crippling fear on a daily basis. The sort of fear that makes your blood run cold and your stomach feel as though it's dropping out of your arse. The sort of fear that makes bile rise in your throat and convinces you that you should never sleep again.

The thing causing this constant heart stopping terror: parenthood.

I should probably clarify a little here - I'm not afraid of my children; they fill my heart with a love so complete that I sometimes wonder how I ever thought I was happy before them. The creeping terror that lurks on the edge of my consciousness is the fear of them being taken away from me. Not by social services, you understand - that would be awful, but I'm pretty certain it's not an imminent threat - but by some awful and unpredictable tragedy.

When Blake was small, I woke throughout the night just to rest my hand on his stomach and feel the rise and fall of his breath. Once he went into his own room, I opened his door every morning with my heart in my throat, terrified that I would find him cold in his bed; taken from me by the unseen evil that is SIDS. I know that it isn't healthy to think that way, but think that way I did. Only ever for a second, just as the door creaked open. As he's grown older, the spectrum of my fears has broadened. Now, I live in a waking nightmare of fast cars on busy roads and little hands that slip out of mine; of a blonde haired boy darting away from my turned back in a busy shop and a bad person that notices before I do; of daring climbs that end in devastating falls. Just writing these things makes me feel like I'm betraying him, as though by manifesting these fears with words, I'm somehow giving them life and opening the door to them. It's not rational, but I'm sure other parents understand.

I thought that with Merryn I would feel more relaxed, but I was wrong. Last night I found myself lying in my bed, exhausted and desperate for sleep, but too frightened to close my eyes in case my baby was taken from me when I wasn't conscious enough to protect her. Social media seems so full of tragic stories about sleeping angels and tiny lives taken too soon, that somehow it had seeped into my soul and convinced me that my family was next; that my life with my perfect children was too good to be true and I was about to suffer the consequences. Of course I was being ridiculous; I woke up in the night and Merryn continued sleeping peacefully and today I feel less afraid again, but it never really stops. 

I sometimes wonder how old my children will be before I no longer wake up in the night, taken by the sudden urge to go into their rooms to check they're still breathing, but I doubt it will be any time that they live under my roof. I try to be rational; I know that I'm keeping my children as safe as I can and I don't want to smother them, but I also know that I can't control the world around us. 

So I try to accept it. I try to embrace The Fear and let it make me feel more alive than I ever have. I'm a parent now and The Fear will be a constant companion for the rest of my life - I might as well get used to it.