Friday, February 28, 2014

My response to Well Behaved Mormon Woman

Dear Cora,

I'm not sure if your name is actually Cora. I'm just imagining it's Cora, and I want to call you by your imagined first name because I know that you're not just some pixelated words on a computer screen. You are a real person with real feelings. I'm a blogger myself, and I know how hard it is to have people talk about something you have put out into the world with good intentions and in good faith in a negative or controversy-filled way. I want you to know that I am writing you this open letter from a place of respect and understanding.

The reason I don't know your first name is because I haven't read your blog post yet. Honestly, I've been avoiding it. I saw a lot of the ruckus online, and read a couple of indirect responses to your post by friends of mine (like this one and this one). I also saw the response your daughter wrote because it was posted in some online forum that I'm magically a part of on Facebook even though I never signed up for it (thankyouverymuch Facebook). I know the post's general premise, but I haven't read the actual post. I've been scared to. I'm scared it will hurt me and make me feel sad and frustrated. I'm scared of the feelings it will evoke in me, and I'm scared of the helplessness I might experience knowing that whatever it is you said is probably emblematic of how many people think about me and people like me.

As it turns out,
I do a thing here on my blog called Friday's Frequently Asked Question where, for a 24 hour period, my readers can ask any question they want and then vote on the question they want answered. The next week, I then answer the winning question. It so happens that last week, reader Bjorge Queen won, and her question was this:

Have you read "well behaved Mormon woman's" diatribe against the movie Frozen? If so, what are your thoughts? I'd love to hear them.


So, it looks like I'm going to have to read the post and share some of my thoughts. I'm sorry this is coming so late, and I'm sure you are saturated with feedback. Nevertheless, I'll do my best to write something you might find interesting or useful in some way should you happen to stumble this direction.

When this question won last week, I hadn't seen the movie yet. So Saturday, I got my girls in the car and Lolly, my wife, and I drove to our local theater and watched it. And I will tell you right now, I was moved. I was moved on a lot of different levels. I was moved as a gay person. I was moved as an artist who lives in a society that places value on commerce over artistic creativity. I was moved as a sex addiction therapist who works with addicts that keep their addictions a secret from those they love because they fear they could never be loved if they shared the truth. I was moved as a person who has felt the quiet tuggings of internal shame from time to time--the feeling that if I shared who I really am or what really exists inside of me, I would damage those around me.

I loved this movie. A lot. 

Also, my three daughters (7, 5, and 3) loved it a lot too, and as their father I was very moved that it was sisterly love that healed the fictitious world portrayed in the film. I hope my girls always remember that the love they have for each other is a force capable of melting the icy snow-drifts of their lives as the decades of their respective futures pass.

So, it is with trepidation and a bit of discomfort that I now read your post. 

(Cue cheesy intermission music.)

Kathryn,

I know your name now.

I've read your post. I want to say first and foremost that I admire you for taking what must have felt like a courageous public stand. You are a person who is not afraid to speak. That is a gift, and there are people you will touch (and are touching) because of that gift.

I'm sure you will write many posts that will bless the lives of many people. Perhaps that's one of the great purposes you have in this life--I do not doubt this, and I commend you for your bravery.

This post, though, is (in my opinion) not helping anybody, and in fact might be hurting a great number of people.

It's funny, I resisted reading this post for weeks because I worried deeply that your words would be painful for me as a gay man. And they were. But interestingly, I find that I am also insulted as an artist,  and that that is the thing that most troubles meYour reading of a homosexual theme in the movie is, from a literary/cinematic critical standpoint, completely defensible. And that's because literature, and art in general, is made for multiple interpretations, and criticism also allows for multiple interpretations. 


But the thing I most want to say here is this: there is an important, key difference between having an interpretation of a work of art, and assuming you know the artistic motivations behind a work of art. The former is what we all do. The latter is a big, big mistake that causes a lot of problems.

Your critical interpretation of the film itself, while a completely valid way to see the film, is your interpretation. It is highly hubristic to insinuate that your interpretation of a creative work is the correct interpretation because you have devised a theory about the motivation of the piece which you claim is correct. Please be clear on this point: a theory about motivation does not verify, substantiate, or in any way support a critical interpretation. Your theory about the motivations behind the movie Frozen is not verifiable proof of a large-scale conspiracy, as you imply it is in your post. It is simply the thoughts that you have in your own mind, for your own reasons. Interpretation is something we all do--this is why art, when it is done well, is so beautiful. We see truth, and pieces of ourselves in the art we examine. But we must never fall into the trap of thinking that because we felt something was true artistically, that means it was the artist's intent. You cannot know the artist's intent. Kind of like when people read a blog post you write then assign motivations to you for it that never existed (as many people have done with the post in question, ironically).

As an artist myself, and one who has gotten some level of attention, I have had many people interpret my work. This was to be expected, and there are many interpretations, and all of them are equally valid. However, I've also had many people theorize about the motivations behind my work. This is highly problematic. The most obvious example of this was my viral blog post in which I came out of the closet as a gay Mormon man married to a woman. While my intentions were so bland, small-scale, and innocent that the posts' eventual high level of impact is almost laughable, there were some people who went beyond critical interpretation to construct theories of their own about my motivations. Some theorized that it was all a conspiracy, meant to advance some political or religious agenda. They were dead set in their interpretations, cited multiple examples, made connections and ties about why I wrote my post, when I wrote it,  how my story got so widely publicized, etc. They came up with all the reasons why I had masterminded such a feat. And while the theories they propagated were complex, interesting, and, to some, very convincing, the basic truth was:

IT WAS ALL BALDERDASH.

I get to say that. I get to say that because I am the only person who knows the truth about my motivation. I am the artist in question, so I get to be the expert on this. Other people can comment on the interpretation of my art however they wish, but I'm the only one that knows my artistic motivation. And the honest-to-goodness truth is that these people had simply invented their theories of my motivations, and all the public mechanisms behind them. In the end, their theories were just that: theories. Just like the theories other people have around why you wrote the post you wrote, and just like the very theory you have proffered about the gay agenda angle in Frozen. 

There is no difference here. It's all theorizing about motivation. Which is why the following line struck me as particularly offensive to anybody else with an interpretation of the film:

For those who saw a completely different, uplifting message in Frozen, that's great. Or any other positive and uplifting message you found to focus on in Frozen, which caused you to miss what the movie was really about, that's good. (emphasis added)

Can you see why this is so problematic? This is your opinion, Kathryn. You know as much about the true motivations behind the creation of this film as you know about my true motivations behind naming my third child Tessa or Barack Obama's true motivation for running for a second term or God's motivation for making trees green instead of purple--which is to say absolutely nothing. You don't get to claim a theory about motivation behind a work of art is correct unless you created that work of art. And last I checked, you were not a writer for the film, Frozen or any of its soundtrack. As a consumer, you get to interpret the work, and, ergo, your interpretation is as good as anybody else's. It is as valid as anybody else's. To claim that you alone know what the movie is really about because you understand the artistic motivation is a blatant insult to the creators of the film, and is also an insult to anyone who derives an alternative interpretation. And, frankly, it is highly deceptive (to yourself and others). The only people who know the true motivation are the creators. But, truth be told, their motivation means very little. It is interpretation that matters ultimately. And, as it happens, when it comes to interpretation, where you see a pernicious evil disseminated to the masses that threatens millions of innocent children, I see a beautiful work of art that I'm happy to bring into my home. And that's okay! We are allowed to disagree about this.

To illustrate my point further  let's play a little game I like to call "flip the criticism on its head." 

Here is a very small beginning to my critical interpretation of Frozen as being all about the repression of Well Behaved Mormon Woman's religiosity.

Elsa has a great power that she has been taught by her parents from the time she was a child, is not publicly acceptable and that she must fear its expression, at all cost, thus hide it from people, even her own sister who could be hurt by it - even killed. Shame is at the core of Elsa's feelings about her magical powers: Kathryn has powerful religious insight into the motivations behind a media-endorsed, greed-driven movie meant to indoctrinate kids into blindly accepting a nefarious Gay Agenda. She wants to tell the world, but she feels afraid that people will misinterpret her or judge her. She feels repressed by a dark, confused world, and knows that she must remain silent. She feels too ashamed to share what she knows with the world, or even those closest to her.

Elsa is devastatingly lonely and depressed being forced to live a life of isolation, believing her powers to be evil. Her sister, kept from the truth, and affected by the inflicted secrecy also becomes victim to the dysfunction of her family and experiences equal isolation and confusion: Kathryn's insights cause her to feel alone and isolated--like nobody understands the truth of what she is seeing. Like the prophetess Cassandra, the few trusted friends she tells about what she knows do not believe her. She continues to watch as innocent children she loves are negatively impacted by the film. Her shame leads her to continue hiding The Truth from the world, even though family members are becoming victim to the dysfunction of society. She wishes to shout from the rooftops but knows she cannot.


Then like Elsa, she "Lets it Go" by posting a public blog post about her theory and many of the townspeople [readers of her blog] react in fear, anger and ignorance...

Etc. Etc. Etc.

If I want to uphold that interpretation as a valid rendering of the film (which I don't), I can. But, what of artistic motivation? For this, let's look at your blog post. If I wanted to I could comb through your life and find stray strands to weave into my theory about the motivations behind your blog post. I could claim that I know, for certain, that all of this has to do with your relationship with your lesbian daughter. I could delicately weave the facts of your life, incidental connections to other people, and misconstrued words you have spoken online into a tapestry of "proof" that my theory of the motivations of your blog post are correct, and then I could point and say "see? See how right I am? I figured it all out. My theory about Kathryn is the only possible explanation--I know because I've been ruminating on it for weeks!" I could even do what you did when you found out the writers of a song from the soundtrack didn't mention the Gay Agenda in interviews and say "see how she didn't even mention my theory when she was talking about her blog post after the fact? That's to confuse you, readers. That's so anyone who agrees with my theory behind the motivation of her blog post--which is true by the way, and the only correct interpretation of her motives--will look totally crazy. She knows that I and good, righteous people like me are on to her, so she's not mentioning the theory I've devised just to confuse you all and make me look bigoted and paranoid."

Of course, I won't do that. I would never do that. It would be futile and unkind. I have no idea what motivated you to write your piece, deep down. I would never claim to. This has been done to me too many times, and I have more respect for you artistically than that.

I am, however, allowed to extend my opinion of the possible interpretations of your piece, acknowledging, of course, that this is just one man's opinion, and not in any way authoritative:

Your post talks of good and evil. You speak of the conflation of light and dark--of there being a co-existence in certain mediums of dark messages packaged in bright colors. Of evil influences being cloaked in pristine, squeaky clean packaging so that the uninitiated or ignorant can lap it up without realizing that with the sweet nectar they ingest they also ingest poison. I find this ironic because it is exactly how I feel about the message of your blog post--I believe that packaged in your well-intentioned, religiously-based warnings is a hurtful, biased, fear-based philosophy of intolerance and exclusion and "othering." I believe there is an "us vs. them" mentality that hurts gay people. I, someone who feels just as much a gay person as a devotedly religious person, feel like your message is divisive and problematic and causes fear where I wish there to be hope and acceptance. And I believe there is a population who laps your message up, assuming it's benign--nay righteous--not realizing that along with the promises of protection and shelter, they are also lapping up a poison that has the potential to one day rip their family apart as I have seen happen in family after family after family. 

But, remember, the above paragraph is simply one interpretation of your blog post. And there are likely many, many more out there that are very different than mine, and that are just as legitimate and valid as mine because that's how criticism actually works.

I'm guessing that you have been so overloaded with feedback to this post that you probably won't get the chance to read my response, and that's completely okay. I totally understand how that goes. If you do stumble across it though, Kathryn, I hope you understand that I am coming from a place of some pain as I write this, but also from a place of love and understanding. I know how hard the job you are doing is. I know how hard it is to put yourself out there, and I think you should keep doing it. Continue speaking your truth. But don't try to assume you know what others' motivations are as they speak theirs. And I will try to do the same. (I'm sure I've made this mistake before as well!)

Also, if you care to have an actual dialogue with me at any point (which I would totally understand if you didn't have time or inclination to--just want you to know that I am completely open to it), you can email me at joshua (dot) weed (at) gmail (dot) com.

Much Love,

Josh Weed


76 comments:

  1. .

    Terrific post, Josh. The clearest explanation of my own feelings on the matter and highly charitable.

    At least.

    That's my interpretation of your post.

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    1. Ditto, your explanation was excellent.

      Unfortunately Kathryn's post has tainted my interpretation of Frozen and it will possibly not be the same next time I view it.

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    2. I'm in complete agreement, Th. And, @Michael Fletcher, that's too bad about Kathryn's post. I read her post, too. I didn't appreciate her insinuation that if her readers didn't see things her way, that they were somehow less religious or less in touch with the Holy Spirit. My advice to you? Let it go! (see what I did there?) Tell yourself that her post was her *interpretation* and that only.

      As for me and my house (which strives to serve the Lord, incidentally), we just - finally! - bought the soundtrack a few days ago and have been singing along with gusto.

      My husband loves the character Olaf, the happy snowman, who has a good attitude no matter what. That's what he aims to do in the face of some pretty serious health problems, and what I try to do.

      Finally, I shall conclude my rambling with some lyrics from one of the lesser-known songs from Frozen, "Fixer-Upper" that have particularly resonated with me:
      We’re only saying that love's a force
      That's powerful and strange.
      People make bad choices if they’re mad,
      Or scared, or stressed
      Throw a little love their way
      (Throw a little love their way)
      And you’ll bring out their best!
      (True love brings out their best!)
      Everyone’s a bit of a fixer-upper,
      That’s what it’s all about!

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    3. Sorry about your husband. I struggle with health issues too and I know how exhausting it can be. Make sure you fill your own cup up too. I have also been a caregiver and I know how utterly exhausting it can be at times.

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  2. Great post, Josh! It helped me on a couple different levels. First, it is a reminder to me about the difference between interpretation and motivation. I don't remember making that mistake in the past, but likely I have. I will try to be more mindful in the future.

    Reading your post also helped me sort out how to deal with something I have been mulling over. You see, I have some concerns about Elizabeth Smart's book, My Story, and wondered how or if I should share my thoughts on my blog, which as you know, is on the same topic (abuse). I received some very clear ideas from this post on how to proceed.

    Thanks so much for your blog! :)

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    1. I would really like to hear your concerns about that book. I haven't finished it yet. Can you email me at Jen10akbabe@AOL.com

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  3. I may be one of the few people in all of America that hasn't seen this movie, nor have I read the blog post, mostly because I didn't want another opinion to cloud the movie when the song alone, which I've head plenty of, seemed so fantastic. Coming from a different life I viewed it in a completely different way.

    I LOVE what you've said about artistic interpretation vs true motivation. As you said, the sign of a great work of art is when different people can interpret it in a way that means something to them personally. When I started taking piano lessons again a few years ago I was going through a tough time in my life and the vulnerability that is required to play a piece with passion felt very uncomfortable for me. My teacher pointed out that no one will know why I am feeling the piece the way I am and they didn't need to know, they just needed to know I felt something so that the gateway was there for them to feel and interpret it in a way that was personal and perhaps even vulnerable to them.

    As I was reading this and you used the word creator over and over again it leaves me pondering about a deeper meaning of interpretation vs motivation. We, as humans, are always trying to find out path in life, our meaning, our purpose, that we are meant to accomplish but it just dawned on me as I read this that in this earthly state we only get to guess at the artistic interpretation in our own lives and the lives of those around us. Only my creator knows the true motivation and reason behind his works of art. This tells me that one, I need to rely on Him even more to guide my path and to accomplish what he created me for instead of just my interpretation of what my life is, and two, that ever present and crucial reminder that judging others is something that we have no business doing.

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  4. My thoughts exactly. I think the movie represents overcoming fear, whatever form it takes for different people. We all have our battles to face. I thought you were very kind to Kathryn, it's sad to know people will link her thoughts with a religious group as a whole. My girls belt out the tunes (as do I, let's be honest here) and even went to the sing a long! I too loved the sister aspect & hope my girls remember they love each other when the teenage years hit!�� Thank you for sharing your thoughts, far more eloquent than I, as usual!

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    1. YES, Melody! YES! My little daughter (well, 9 years old...not so little anymore, but she's my baby, so...) and I love the songs. We also went to the Sing Along version of the movie. I think she and I were the only ones in the theater singing, but we didn't care. People were turning and looking at us, and I just wanted to ask what they expected when they went to a SING ALONG version of a movie, but I digress. I loved the message about sisterly love (and, more broadly, love within a family, and amongst siblings). Knowing my sisters are there for me makes a huge difference in my life!

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  5. You've actually addressed one of my pet peeves- actually the first one I ever realized: When others assume (and we know what that means) that they know what's going on in my head and heart. Since they're not in here, they don't know what all is going on, the history, what the contributing factors are, what my motives are, etc.

    I have to agree that WBMW was kinda arrogant in presuming to know what the movie creators' motives were. Only they can know.. unless someone has become a reliable clairvoyant.

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  6. Just when I think "There is no way anyone can respond to this in any sort of positive way without adding more hurt feelings." You post a blog post. Well done. These gals are impressed.

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  7. I haven't read her blogpost. I love your distinction between what art's content and motivation. I think that's helpful in a almost any discussion on art and values. In reading the fallout I do have this to say: The only way we can interpret things is through the filter of our experience. When you have something on your mind, you see the world through that filter. It doesn't mean everyone else does or that the creators had a similar filter.

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  8. Amen Josh. A-freakin-men. I believe posts like the one you're responding to are the problem. Such are what prevent us as a church from becoming more accepting, understanding, and empathetic.

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  9. Loved it. Thanks for sharing your views on it. Especially when it comes to gay topics/perspectives, I find your view to be very interesting and informative, and I love that you guys are so open about it.

    When I first watched Frozen, I was deeply moved, due to experiences in my own life. I could relate to Elsa's feelings, and I'm not gay. I think it's a pretty universal feeling, especially when coming from strict homes where it's wrong to be yourself, to feel like you have to hide who you are, like who you are isn't good enough, and you won't be loved by your family or friends if you break away from the mold and experience life how you see it, etc. I felt very much like I could relate to her.

    But then I read the blog post from that lady, and I watched it again.

    I must say that, while I don't believe that to be the purpose/conspiracy behind Frozen, I find it to be a BEAUTIFUL metaphor for someone who is gay (didn't catch the connection to gay marriage, just solely to gay people themselves). What a moving story to express how someone who is gay feels...and how important LOVE is.

    I was left wondering why she missed that point. The point of LOVE. The importance of LOVE. Which is really the whole story of Christ, everything he did was out of love (and should be of Christians).

    And, instead, I felt like her post was her wanting all of us to join her in pushing Elsa back into the tower, back into her room, closing the door, leaving her isolated and alone and again. With no love.

    Makes me sad that was her conclusion.

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    1. Love this comment. I agree.

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    2. I agree as well. A superb answer Josh, and Teresa I agree...a movie encouraging love is condemned as being too loving and accepting. I'm relieved so many are interpreting this film in such a positive uplifting fashion.

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  10. I saw Frozen just last night, and because I had heard about it promoting homosexuality, I watched for it in the plot.
    Although I could see how a gay person could feel rejected and ashamed like Elsa, there are many other people who can feel rejected by society and unloved. One reason I love fantasy stories is that an ice sorceress doesn't have to just represent and gay woman, or a person with cancer or depression, or a person who feels like they've made terrible mistakes, or a person who feels like they can't ever measure up. The lonely sorceress can represent anyone who feels as she does.
    I guess what scared me about her post was that she calls herself the Well Behaved Mormon Woman. I try to be a well behaved Mormon woman myself, and I loved Frozen.
    Josh, I don't take everything you write without questioning it either, even though you're Mormon too. I try to be responsible like that.
    Thanks for the post!

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  11. Thanks Josh. I have seen the move many times with family and friends. It quickly became my favorite movie and I have memorized that soundtrack. I was really hurt and upset by her interpretations. I am gay and a member of the church. So as she quickly described the movie in such an awful way, I felt like she was attacking me and who I am. I do believe that the movie, especially the 'Let it Go' theme applies to me. It also applies to anyone struggling with any addiction, shyness, bitterness, hatred, eating disorder, etc. We need to accept ourselves and move on.
    Thank you for your amazing and well thought out post.
    Your brother,
    Sam

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    1. I agree Sam, that song applies to many many people, and we're all deserving love and support and friendship and cheering on in life. The song "Let It Go" applies to me regarding memories and hatreds from a very abused past. As I strive to heal I struggle to rid myself of all the negatives, to let it go and I've succeeded in some areas immensely. I found this song very liberating and encouraging to me personally with my own challenges in life. For me, the song's agenda is about being a struggling human being striving to become their best self, which really is nobody else's business. We all need to let go of what holds us back in our progression. That's my interpretation. :)

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  12. I love the way you wove non-judgmental ness throughout the response while clearly stating your truths. A beautiful and sad response but packed with a great message if anyone is open and willing to hear it, thanks Josh!

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  13. I second Milton McLelland's comment. The thing that struck me in your response was how you gave your message to Kathryn with love, understanding and clarity. I like your logic, too.

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  14. I love this post, Josh. It gets right to the heart of the issue. I haven't seen Frozen yet, but now I really want to!

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  15. Beautifully and intelligently written.

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  16. Isn't it a great movie? It really moved me as well. I liked what you said here a lot, you are so articulate.

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  17. Great response Josh.

    Interestingly enough, there is an interview on Yahoo with the husband/wife team who wrote the music for Frozen. In it they explain that the original plot had Elsa as a brooding, jealous sister (jealous of Anna's freedom) and Anna as a prim and proper kind of princess. They thought that was kind of a negative vibe. So they convinced Disney to let love be the central theme of the relationship. As far as the inspiration for 'Let It Go', they used the pressure they feel to achieve perfection as artists and (for the wife), to be a 'perfect mom' to capture the emotions of repression and holding back, and then finally getting beyond that.

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    1. So interesting! Thank you for sharing this (and the link below).

      Kate @ BJJ, Law, and Living

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    2. Thanks for bringing attention to that interview. I'll have to check it out. I found out the other day that one of my good friends from my high school days went to college and participated in drama and musical theater (surprise!) with the wife of this husband & wife songwriting team - how cool is that?! What is that for me? Two degrees of separation? Awesome!

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  18. Found the link to that interview if anyone is interested.

    http://screen.yahoo.com/new-york-times/brooklyn-inspiration-frozen-171347501.html

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  19. Oh yes - one other interesting tidbit. Robert Lopez, the husband, co-wrote the music for The Book of Mormon musical.

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  20. Hi Josh...I posted the same day you did. Here was my take: http://evolequals.com/2014/02/27/a-gay-dad-takes-on-the-frozen-hating-mormon-grandmother/

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  21. Whoa on your high.horse there, Mr. Weed. If you.believe.that living a gay life hurts god.or.is against his ultimate plan or.any of that even a little bit, I would step.down off of.that horse. The log in your own eye if you please. Yes, you were answering.a.question. But it does smack a bit of self pride, to me anyway. You react quite strongly.to.criticism but go.aftet someone else. Do those living a gay life hurt god in your opinion?

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    1. This comment was painful to read. Punctuation is so important. Correct punctuation.

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    2. Not that this has anything to do with the original comment here (although I agree with Tammy), but I've known Josh for a very long time and I'm pretty sure horses aren't his thing--real or metaphorically. (Sorry, Josh, just could not resist :) )

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    3. I am not ashamed to use my name. To the original poster, kindness matters! It's ironic that you think he is judging yet you judge. I have learned in all of my psych classes and reading that often what we don't like in others is really what we are uncomfortable with themselves. So you should get off your high horse or gallop away. Each time Josh posts (which I love every post by the way) you are seeing just a tiny fraction of their life. Kindness matters. I don't know if you believe in the Bible or not. If you do, then you would know the #1 commandment is to love. Just love. Love our Savior and Heavenly Father. Love our brothers and sisters in the world. That's what life is all about.

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    4. First of all, periods belong at the end of the sentence, not sprinkled throughout. Second of all, what the heck are you even talking about? How is Josh even remotely being prideful in this post, and when has he ever "reacted quite strongly to criticism"? How does it even matter what his religious beliefs on gay marriage are when responding to this question? There are plenty of people who believe homosexuality is a sin and also think the woman who wrote that post about Frozen is a crackpot.

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  22. Well done, Josh, with dignity and finesse. You are indeed a gentleman and we so need all of those that we can get these days.
    Very well done. I actually feel the need to curtsey or salute or give you a standing ovation. <3

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  23. I wish people wouldn't read sexual innuendo into everything (teletubbies). I loved/hated this movie for my own personal reasons. But as a person that struggles with shyness and anxiety, a lifelong struggle, I identified with the sense of shame. Shame isn't limited to homosexuality or sex addiction.

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  24. Josh, I think this was such a great response. The first thing I thought when I read her blog post was, "she must have been an English major!" There are simply so many ways to interpret art, not to mention scripture, that none of us can assume ours is the best or most correct interpretation. Thank you for pointing that out and not just attacking her.

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  25. Made me laugh:

    http://huopo.wordpress.com/2014/02/26/the-true-meaning-of-frozen-let-it-go/

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    1. Brilliant! Thanks so much for the link, I need a good laugh on a Monday morning.

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  26. "I was deeply moved by Anna’s example of unselfish Christlike love, which ultimately saved her life. She didn’t need a hero with a sword, the magic of trolls, or even Elsa to remove the ice. She herself had the power all along.The gospel of Jesus Christ gives us each this same power. He constantly had ice thrown at Him, but His heart could never be made cold. Following His example of humility, service, compassion, patience, charity, and forgiveness protects our own hearts from becoming frozen.He teaches us that relationships are the most important thing on earth, and often they are in need of repair. Many times they can be mended. Sometimes they cannot. And often it’s the frozen heart of another that causes us great pain. While we would do anything in the world to thaw someone else’s ice, all we can do is patiently wait for Christ to step in and help them, as He has helped us."

    I found this at http://www.mercyrivermusic.com/2014/02/what-frozen-is-really-about.html . I think this BEST explains it!

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  27. Love the post Josh.

    One of the ladies from Mercy River posted something similar as far as there being lots of hidden message talk that she didn't want to discuss, but what she did want to discuss was the extremely positive and uplifting message that she got from it. The take posted here hit me because I have ice in my heart put there by the actions of a family member. And only I am capable of melting that ice. Anyway, thought I would share the link:
    http://www.mercyrivermusic.com/2014/02/what-frozen-is-really-about.html

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  28. Even if the film is 'pro-gay' (whatever that means) there would be nothing wrong with that!

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  29. This is really interesting. I know a few folks who refuse to listen to the song "Brave" by Sara Bareilles because it was intended to encourage gay people to be unashamed of who they are and to be themselves. "Frozen" could be interpreted the same way. I think both are wonderful tools for helping people root out the shame in their lives. I don't think homosexuality is necessarily hurtful or bad, but I KNOW that shame is.

    I suffer from depression, and I was very encouraged by both "Brave" and "Frozen" as I began "coming out" on my own blog (http://begtobespared.blogspot.com/2013/10/a-miracle-just-for-me.html). I've come close to suicide several times. I had secrets that I didn't want anyone else to know about. I had some major shame obstacles to overcome. I'm more empowered now, and I'm happier. If the same process can work for gay people, I support them in it wholeheartedly. My greatest enemy is shame. "Frozen" is on my team.

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  30. So often heartbroken and disappointed in fellow Mormons who 'supposedly' believe the same things I do. I guess it really comes down to interpretation and perspective. I was saddened to check her blog and find she could not even bear testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ without alienating people (as she says "different brands of Mormonism" and immediately making them/me/us feel less than "her brand"). I just find it disheartening that we Mormons can often be so not Christian. Or people in general. I just expect more of Mormons knowing they know and believe (supposedly) the same things I do.
    Love people.
    Love!
    That is what (I believe;) ) Christ's gospel is all about.
    And for what it is worth - you find what you are looking for. I was surprised at the strong views of what "Frozen" is really about. To me the movie was personal. Great art is always personal! It moves us. It means something to us. If we let it. I loved the movie. I loved the message of LOVE!
    So thank you Josh for continuing to be courageous and post. I find I agree with "your brand" of Mormonism and it gives me hope for all of us Mormons. :) Keep up the good work. Spreading love and kindness and understanding and compassion wherever you go.
    Keep being brave for those of us who are not. (I would crumble in a million pieces at any mean comment. It is unbelievable to me how people go out of their way to be so mean and purposefully hurtful.) So I believe Josh, that you and I may have the "same brand" of Mormonism. Let us go forth spreading the good word of God, the true gospel of Jesus Christ - love.

    Much love to your and your darling family.
    Amber

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    1. I agree Amber! I hate the us against them mentality. People do it all of the time and I always want to say, like President Ucdorf's talk, STOP IT! You are right about love. The greatest commandments are to love the Lord and love others. And also not to judge. One of my good friends old me once that when we judge it's like we push the Savior out of the way and tell Him we know better than He does. That analogy has always stuck out in my mind. I believe people will find what they are looking for. If they are looking for something negative, they will find it. If they look for the good they will find that too.

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  31. I just had the best thought and had to share! I was sitting her mulling over what she says on that blog post and others, feeling disappointed, saddened, and upset as a fellow Mormon. And then the thought came to me: "Let it go!"
    It made me smile. And that is what I shall do.

    Amber
    (again)

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  32. This is completely off topic but I just have to say every time I pull up your blog and see the picture of your sweet family I can't help but smile. You are all indeed blessed to have each other. It truly warms my heart.

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  33. My concern is that these well behaved Mormon women, whether it be buying up offensive T-shirts or writing a blog about Frozen, are making the rest of us look WACK! lol

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  34. Not only did I appreciate the analysis done in this post, but also the powerful example you've given us, Josh, of how to react in a mature and positive way to things that you don't agree with. Not to leave hurtful, anonymous comments, as is so easy to do today. But to be thoughtful and analytical, and generous about giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, and about turning the other cheek. Beautiful.

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  35. I can't possibly like this more than I do!! Thank you for defending us artists!

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  36. I have found just as many article about how Frozen may be the most 'Christian' movie ever released. (ie... The Blaze, Dailymail.uk.com, and many more)http://video.foxnews.com/v/3109148193001/does-disneys-hit-frozen-carry-a-christian-message/?playlist_id=940325739001#sp=show-clips

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  37. Also it is an adaptation of 'The Snow Queen' by Hans Christian Anderson which has many references to Christianity.

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  38. Hi Josh, I just wanted to thank you for your blog, especially your early posts. I randomly found you through a post on FB about your coming out, and decided to start from the beginning of your blog since I enjoyed your writing. Your posts and descriptions of being diagnosed with ADHD helped finally propel me to get my own diagnosis of ADHD inattentive type...I recognized myself in pretty much every word you wrote. I had never been to a therapist/psychologist of any kind before, so even though I had suspected I had this for the last few years, your description of how much better life was after diagnosis is what finally convinced me to go...especially the story about cleaning your car and preparing for a trip and what you would have done in the pre-diagnosis stage. Ha. Me, exactly. Anyway. Just wanted to say thanks. :)

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  39. I love this so much! There is a defined line between criticism and being critical. Ms. Skaggs will hopefully learn this.

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  40. When "How to Train your Dragon" came out, my roommate vehemently insisted to everyone that the movie was about the Vietnam War and Communism and.... it went on for hours, stretched over weeks. I tried to explain, because she was really offended that I didn't see where she was coming from, that the metaphor was there, but that didn't mean that the movie was ABOUT Communism.

    This is perfect. Metaphors can exist and that doesn't mean we get to say what the artistic intent was.

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  41. There is a story in the Book of Mormon about a man named Zeezrom. " Alma and Amulek had a knowledge of him, for he was convinced that they knew the thoughts and intents of his heart; for power was given unto them that they might know of these things according to the spirit of prophecy." That is the same power that Kathern used to discern the intents of the evil and designing men who created Frozen. By the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
    Sister Skaggs is inspired and correct in her interpretation of Frozen.

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    1. Alma and Amulek were ordained of God to prophecy to those people. Sister Skaggs can only receive revelation for her own family. Just as my husband And I receive it for my family. She can interpret the movie any way she wants, so can I!
      I personally love the message of unconditional love that Anna teaches us. Unconditional love is what I am trying to teach my children. I don't think most people really understand what it means.

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    2. Yikes. That is all.

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    3. The Lord does not love us unconditionally. See "Divine Love" by Russell M Nelson.

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    4. You're saying that Sister Skaggs has the same gift of discernment as prophets have? And that she can use that gift to preach to the whole world? That the whole world is her stewardship? She's a prophet? By what authority was she called?

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    5. 29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!
      We all can have the spirit of prophecy. Sister Skaggs did not speak for the Church. Only those who have the spirit of discernment can understand what she is saying. Again, she was correct in her inspired and brilliant interpretation of the hidden message in Frozen.

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    6. A few things:

      1. It's true, anyone can get the gift of discernment. We're told to 'covet' the gifts of the Spirit. And if we were given important knowledge, it wouldn't be amiss to post it, as long as we weren't claiming prophetic authority, which this woman is not.

      2. The problem is not that she's "interpreting" Frozen, it's that she's claiming to know the original intent of the author. She claims over and over again that "Let it Go" was written about homosexuality, and accuses the authors of hiding that fact. I don't know about the songwriters, but Idina Menzel said it was about feminism, not SSA.

      I could make the case that "Let it Go" is about Asperger's Syndrome (which some of my close friends have); all her points would work for that interpretation as well.

      3. The Lord DOES love us unconditionally (https://www.lds.org/prophets-and-apostles/unto-all-the-world/gods-love-is-always-there). We can, if we so choose, sin and lose the Spirit, and then we are separated from Him. He won't let us go through life without experiencing the consequences of our actions.


      On a side note, I love "Frozen," but I personally have mixed feelings about "Let it Go." I do feel that not all of it is positive, and it's unfortunate that it ended up being the focal song of the movie. But the show makes it clear that Elsa's choices didn't make her happy in the end.

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  42. Josh, thank you for this! You have expressed what I have thought very eloquently. Not only on this, but on many issues! Hopefully in the future I will be careful to just interpret and not assign motivation!

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  43. This post is just completely amazing. Your differentiation between interpretation and motivation is spot on, and I'm SO glad you shared it, helped clarify a lot of things for me as well. Really, really loved this post. I agree 100% with Janel's comment above.

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  44. I am SO sad about her post because I love the restored gospel so much and these sorts of posts are not helping us do missionary work.
    Frozen was a delight. I never saw a gay agenda, but maybe someone who was gay could find some hope in admitting it? Wouldn't that be a good thing? It doesn't mean condoning gay behavior. Or other stuff-like eating disorders or anxiety or perfectionism or what have you. But by letting the fear of admitting something go-we can start to get help. We can learn to figure out how to handle it. We all have something that is hard for us. Frozen just gave that a voice (accidental pun retroactively intended:). The only part of that Wonderful movie that bothered me was the line from the song "No right, no wrong, no rules for me". That's kind of a dangerous line for little children to be memorizing, don't ya think? Although...you could debatably argue that Elsa's attitude led her to pain, and when she figured out the rules (how to control her self) she could then rule a kingdom...Your kindness and understanding re: Kathryn Skaggs is what we need more of Mr. Weed. Thank-you for the goodness of your life, you family's life, and for moving the gospel of Jesus Christ forward. He loves us all.

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  45. While she can't possibly KNOW the motivation of the writers, it is possible that she may have brushed on the truth of the matter. Even though it can only ever be a theory, I think it's just as ridiculous for others to completely rule out that theory. Just as Kathryn can't be positive her theory is entirely true, no one else could be positive that her theory is entirely false.

    Motivation aside, there are some direct quotes from the movie that would cause me to refrain from allowing this movie in my home. From Let it Go: "No right, no wrong, no rules for me. I'm free." Whatever the motivation of the writer, if the philosophy of that song was embraced by society (which I think it already has been, to an extent), it would lead to an unimaginable level of evil and corruption.

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  46. Thank you Josh! Unfortunately, like a train wreck, I find myself reading her blogs occassionaly and as a gay man find them not only insulting, but blatantly ignorant. I also find it interesting that her comments boards will not accept comments that do not agree with her.

    While you are spot on with this post, I doubt you would ever be able to reach that woman with any amount of reason.

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  47. Hmm.

    I think your critique is accurate and well stated, Josh. I appreciate your care to not be insulting or hurtful toward Kathryn, despite your disagreement.

    I also feel that Kathryn's interpretation is overreaching and off-putting. I wish there were more respect and less confidence in our own points of view in some of these conversations about sensitive topics. Kathryn would do more to help her cause if she took that tack.

    Having agreed for the most part with your perspective, I want to push back a wee bit. You assert that nobody except the artist can speak with authority about the creator's intent, and I suppose that's true in the strictest sense. However, don't you think that some art advocates a viewpoint in fairly obvious ways? That its intent is less about enabling an unbounded spectrum of private interpretation, and more about swaying opinion? That some guesses about the motivations of an artist are reasonably judged to be closer to truth than others?

    I'm not saying that Kathryn is right about Frozen. It's the work of hundreds of artists, not a single person, and I imagine their intents were all over the map. Plus, as many have pointed out, the basic story line comes from a fairy tale that long predates modern cultural concerns.

    My own feelings about Frozen are nuanced. I loved the tribute to love between sisters, and I think "Let It Go" teaches a powerful truth about being genuine and courageous about our truest selves. Olaf is awesome, and I was quite touched by the "fixer-upper" song. I wish all the little kids who sing the song weren't singing "No right, no wrong, no rules for me," though, and associating that mindset with the other positive messages.

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  48. Josh ~ I'm wondering if 'The Well Behaved Mormon Woman' responded to your observations?

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