Friday, May 15, 2015

I'm Frozen Over (But Not Yet Over "Frozen")

The Walt Disney Company has released a lot of movies over the years. Some good, some bad. Some memorable, some forgettable. And some inescapable.

On November 27, 2013, Walt Disney released a little animated movie called Frozen. At the time, I had no idea how much it would dominate my life.

Frozen: Perhaps you've heard of it?
It started out innocently enough. We thought we'd take the kids to a movie over Christmas break. Frozen had been out for a few weeks, and it had received mostly good reviews. And since The Wolf of Wall Street and Anchorman 2 didn't seem very appropriate for children, we chose to take our kids to Frozen.

The kids seemed to enjoy the movie. The Girl (who was 5 years old at the time) liked the songs and all the princessy stuff, and The Boy (who was 3 year old) liked the snowman and the reindeer. But, they didn't seem to like it significantly more than other movies we had watched with them in the previous few months, like Despicable Me 2 and Monsters University. They seemed to like Frozen about the same as they liked all kid movies.

It wasn't until Spring of 2014 that it started to take over our lives. The Girl and The Boy both have birthdays in the spring, and so for their birthdays one of them got the soundtrack to Despicable Me and the other got the soundtrack to Frozen. Both cds got put into the six-cd stereo in the mini-van. It was immediately clear which of the two soundtracks they preferred.

Over the course of the next several months the soundtrack of Frozen was played through the speakers of the min-van stereo dozens, or possibly hundreds, or possibly thousands, or possibly millions of times. Almost any time we went anywhere we listened to Frozen. And it wasn't just the main soundtrack, either. We also listened to Disc 2 of the soundtrack, which featured songs that were written for the movie but didn't make the cut. (Featuring the comedic stylings of Nils Norberg.)

The stereo in the mini-van playing "Frozen Heart" for the  1,000,017th time.
It was during this time that the songs became ingrained in my head. I couldn't go anywhere without thinking about finishing "each other's sandwiches," or being a "happy snowman."

I found the songs seeping into my everyday conversation. The song "Do You Want To Build a Snowman" became a musical template for any time I asked almost any question. I would sing, "Do you want to have some ice cream?" or "Do you want to put your shoes on?" or "Do you want to go to Costco?" or "Do you want to watch The Good Wife?" of "Do you want to cut your toenails?" or, one time at work when a truck driver offered to sell me some questionable oysters I spent the whole evening singing, "Do you want to buy some oysters?" [For more on the night a truck driver tried to sell me questionable oysters out of the back of his truck, see: Do You Want to Buy Some Oysters?]

That's not the only song that took over my brain, though. When playing basketball, and the ball was going out of bounds off of someone from the opposing team, I would find myself singing to my teammates, "Let it go, let it go!"

And then there's the song "Reindeers are Better Than People." I find myself singing it whenever I compare two different things. Like, "French toast is better than pancakes," or "Fry sauce is better than ketchup," or "Tacos are better than Corn Flakes," or "Vikings are better than Cowboys."

I find myself wishing I had "10,000 salad plates" and that I could talk to "actual, real live people."

Yes, the songs from the Frozen soundtrack have pummeled themselves deep inside my brain. But, it didn't stop there.

Later in the summer, we bought a new car. (A used car, new to us.) It was a white Ford Taurus. I have a habit of giving names to my cars, so I was trying to think of a good name for this new car. Since a Taurus is a bull, I was thinking to name the car after someone from the Chicago Bulls. But, since I am a fan of the Utah Jazz, I was having a hard time thinking of a Chicago Bull I would want to name my car after. I was leaning toward naming the car "Sloan," after former Jazz coach and Bull player Jerry Sloan. The Wife wasn't particularly fond of that name, so she asked the kids what we should name the car. Since the car is white, they immediately decided to name it "Olaf," after the snowman from Frozen. Of course, that is the name that stuck. (Which is probably for the best, because Olaf is a much better name for a car than Sloan.)

Olaf the kite, leaning against Olaf the car.
And then I thought it was winding down. As the year turned into fall, the requests to listen to Frozen in the van became less frequent. (Only four times a week instead of ten times a week.) I really thought that the Frozen fascination would continue to wane until it got to the point where I might actually go a whole day without hearing the names "Elsa," "Anna," "Olaf," or "Sven."

I was wrong.

I forgot about Christmas. I forgot about Christmas and the Walt Disney Mighty Merchandising Machine!

For Christmas 2013 the movie was brand new, and they had no idea how BIG of a hit it was going to be. So, yes, they had some Frozen merchandise to sell, but on a relatively small scale. But by the time Christmas of 2014 rolled around, they had had a full year to produce, promote and propagate any and every possible Frozen product you could think of, and even some you couldn't!

When I hear the term "frozen underwear," I think of someone out in blizzard conditions whose underwear has literally frozen. Nope. Our kids got Frozen underwear. Frozen socks. Frozen shoes. Frozen shirts. Frozen bicycle helmets. Frozen pillow cases. Frozen pajamas. Frozen toothpaste. Frozen toothbrushes. Frozen vegetables! (Okay, so I made that last one up. For now. It wouldn't surprise me if Disney scientists are working on creating Elsa-shaped asparagus as we speak!)

Frozen shirts!

Another Frozen shirt! (I decided not to take pictures of my kids' Frozen underwear.)

Our main gift as a family for Christmas was a karaoke machine. Of course, the first karaoke cd we got to play in the machine was the Frozen soundtrack karaoke sing-along-athon!!! (Weren't all those months of singing along to the soundtrack in the mini-van enough? Apparently not.)

Please, sing along with songs you've already heard 1,000,019 times!

And, if that wasn't enough, we also have the Frozen sheet music, so we can play-along as well as sing-along!
Eventually we made it through our Frozen Christmas. So we were finally finished, right? Wrong! The Walt Disney Mighty Merchandising Machine was just getting started! For their birthdays in the spring the kids got Frozen sheets, and Frozen wall stickers, and Frozen drinking cups, and Frozen napkins, and Frozen paper plates, and Frozen jumper cables. (Okay, I made up that last one again. For now.)

Sheets, pillow case, wall stickers, stuffed toys, etc….

Drink not from the Frozen cup.

And it's not over yet. I'm sure more is still coming. Just the other day in the store I saw some Frozen yogurt. It was a bit confusing, though, because the Frozen yogurt wasn't actually frozen yogurt. It was just regular yogurt with characters from the movie Frozen on the packaging. Although, if I had checked the ice cream section I might have come across some Frozen frozen yogurt as well. (Or would that be frozen Frozen yogurt? It's all very confusing.)

Also available: Frozen soup. Although it is not frozen soup, just Frozen soup. (I think.)
(And if you heat up Frozen soup, is it still Frozen?)

It also wouldn't surprise me to see Disney buy Lambeau Field in Green Bay where the Packers play. It's been referred to as the "frozen tundra" for decades, why not put Elsa and Anna on the sidelines and make it the "Frozen tundra?"

The kids are even finding Frozen things where Frozen doesn't exist. A while back I was listening to a minor hit from the 1980s called "On a Carousel" by a group called Glass Moon. (It was a remake of a 60's song by The Hollies.) The kids liked the song, but as they sang along they changed the lyrics from "On a Carousel" to "Anna Carousel," and then eventually to "Elsa Carousel." Even songs from the 80s (or 60s) aren't safe from the Frozen phenomenon!

[And, just to be clear, my daughter is very particular on how to pronounce the name of the character "Anna" from the movie. If I try to pronounce it with a soft "a" sound, like "Ann-uh," I will be immediately and harshly corrected. It is pronounced "On-uh" or "Ah-nuh." Any time I try to pronounce it "Ann-uh" I get the frozen glare of death. (Which, thankfully, is not quite the same as the Frozen glare of death!)]

My fear is that this is just the beginning. I'm afraid that the Walt Disney Mighty Merchandising Machine is just getting started. It may not be long before every single product ever invented will have the likeness of Elsa or Anna or Olaf on it. Soon enough, it just might reach the breaking point.

My advice to the fine folks at Disney? You've done enough. You've made enough. It's time to give it a rest. Just let it go.

Let it go.

(At least until the sequel comes out.)

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