Mediapothecary XI: Things For When You Need to Think Snow Is Beautiful, Or Else Die

Okay Okay Okay. As some of you may know, I live in Chicago. As some of you may also know, winter in Chicago this year has been EXTREMELY CHALLENGING. And I will leave it at that, because frankly if I unpack my feelings about the weather situation this winter, not even my daily meditation app will get me out of the fetal position or stop my tears. My primary survival tactic has been to focus on not rolling over like some kind of namby pamby winter weakling, but to try and pinpoint those things about winter which are right and good and that I can put on my instagram. Snowmen with blackberry eyes. Lil tiny babies in so much snow gear that they look like puff pastries. My face wrapped in all kinds of attractive scarves.

The point is that in this life you gotta sink or swim, and the only way to swim through this Hellbeast winter is to THINK SNOW IS FUCKING AMAZING, OR ELSE DIE. So here’s to winter (still, in March.) Here’s to marshmallow wonderlands and frost covered glades and snowflakes and ice skating and seeing your own breath in front of you like some kind of ancient wizard’s spell. Here, my pets, are some things to check out when you need to be reminded that winter is a valid and sometimes pretty cool season.

1. Frozen

So I’ll start by saying that I am not a particular fan of Disney movies, or animated movies, or musicals. I am an unlikely fan of Frozen. But guess what, planet earth? I AM A FAN OF FROZEN. I’ll shout it from a mountaintop, and probably cause an avalanche, but instead of snow it will be an onslaught of feelings and thoughts about love and pain as expressed by beautiful ballads with incredibly catchy choruses. This movie is the effing best.

So you think it’s going to be the typical animated Disney film with an ill-fated princess looking for love and a wacky adventure that makes them leave their provincial hometown and one goofy animal and one goofy anthropomorphized object, right? And on most of those counts you are right, AT FIRST. But then this movie, in a way that surprised even me, a historically grumpy person, makes some cool choices. First off, there are two princesses, and from the get-go the movie is primarily about their relationship. A love interest/handsome prince-type does get introduced pretty early on, but without trying to give too much away, I’ll call this a genre-driven RED HERRING. This movie, while still a mass market kids’ film where the women are underdressed for the weather and have way-too-big-eyes, makes some nice steps towards feminism. It’s all about the bond between two sisters, and that relationship takes precedence over all the romantic threads in the movie. And then again trying not to give too much away but I’m gonna call this a **SPOILER ALERT**, in the end, the twist on the princess-in-trouble-that-only-true-love-can-save trope is that one of the princesses not only saves herself from grave danger, but she does it by way of her true love for her sister, while the men basically sit back and watch. I LIKE IT, FROZEN.

The other thing I love about this movie? It’s essentially all about anxiety management! Way to go, actually useful life lessons! The basic premise is that Nordic princesses/sisters/huge eyes on legs Elsa and Anna are besties as babies, and Elsa has some nutty magical powers where she can make ice come out of her hands and everyone loves it. But, there’s an accident and their royal Nordic parents become total buzzkills about Elsa’s neat snow powers. They tell her she has to hide them and learn how to have total control over them such that she never ever uses them. And, just for good measure, they tell her never to interact with any humans or feel any feelings at all, because feelings might make her LOSE CONTROL and hurt everyone around her, especially the people she loves. So, she’s basically set up for success, right? This plan obviously leads to total disaster after years of suppression (sound familiar, everyone in your twenties?), the shit hits the fan, everyone’s miserable, and everything in sight is covered in several feet of snow. Welcome to Chicago.

But then. Elsa figures out that now that the shit has hit every possible fan, she has nothing to lose. Her neurotic anxiety and overwhelming emotions can’t hurt anyone anymore, so she just… feels them? And is thereby purified in the cleansing fire of her feelings. Or, you know, sings that song everyone loves. A bunch of other stuff happens, but the overarching lesson at the end—other than SISTERLY LOVE—is that you have to let yourself feel the things you feel, not hide them, and eventually the fear will balance out with the love.


2. That One Scene in Inception.

I realize that I just wrote 90% of this post on the movie Frozen, and I’m not even going to try to obscure that fact. I’ll just pepper it with some little frosty petit-fours to remind you that even movies not entirely about snow can attractively and successfully feature snow elements. For example, that weird scene in Inception that takes place on a snow mountain spy palace for NO REASON. That’s a weird but good snow feature.

I guess maybe Christopher Nolan did the math and the only thing his films lacked was a good action-ski sequence. In any event, nothing has made snow look this… dangerous?


4. The Little Match Girl JKJKJKJKJK

5. Beauty and the Beast

Because what could make snow more magical than a romantic frolic with a horrible monster. The beauty of cartoons, much as in Frozen, is you get to enjoy all the beauty of snow without the recognition that actual human people would be uncomfortably cold and need to wear more unflattering layers. Cartoon characters just get to look glamorous, hanging out comfortably in a winter wonderland in clothing designed for early fall at best! That’s the greatest miracle of all.

6. Fargo

Because this isn’t a rhapsody about the fun and beauty of woodchippers, I feel justified in including Fargo here. The snow is inarguably a huge part of the (stunning) look of this film, and it’s comforting—at least to me—to see evidence of a hardier breed of North Dakotans who can withstand the cold and still solve badass crimes, even when super pregnant.

7. The Mr. Freeze puns from Batman Returns

Posted without comment.

Not included: The Shining, Empire Strikes Back, Johnny Tsunami


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