The Big Issue : Edition 501
culture police Fiona Scott-Norman THE BIG ISSUE 26 DEC 2015 – 7 JAN 2016 29 ILLUSTRATIONBYGREGBAKES;ORIGINALPHOTOGRAPHBYMILESSTANDISH THE KEY TO SUCCESS IN 2016 CAN BE FOUND IN A DISNEY FILM. Letting It All Go is a meditational mantra, sung by a diva and part of our collective subconscious. Stuck in traffic? Let it go. Your 315th job knockback? Let it go. Want to punch that parent who’s screaming in your face because you’ve cut his son from the badminton team? You get the drift. Life, over the long term, is the process of coming to terms. It’s not even about the slings and arrows, it’s subtler than that. Every new stage of life means letting go of the previous, comfy one. Every win wraps around a core of loss. A new house means saying goodbye to the old one. Growing up means never again being carried, snoozing, in your parent’s arms to the back seat of the car. Having kids means letting go of sleep, autonomy – and going to the dunny with the door closed. Our happiness in the present depends, basically, on how good we are at not cracking the sads about the past. I, like everyone, suck at letting go. Balls. I once had a breakdown in a favourite cafe because it changed hands and the menu was altered. I’d been eating the same spanakopita for 15 years; I was devastated, and totally cracked it. Not good. The last couple of years have been a masterclass in letting go for me – my mother dying, two flocks of chickens being killed by foxes, my mum’s jewellery being stolen, selling my Mini because they are rubbish unless you have a bottomless pit of money you don’t mind setting fire to every few months... I’m in the throes of menopause, which means a quite literal letting go of oestrogen, and what it means to be a woman. No really, I’m fine. Excuse me while I go punch a badminton dad in the face. So there you are. To succeed in 2016, all you have to do is write a song that connects to the experience of every person on the planet. NO PROBLEM. You’re welcome. * Two reasons. One, as if Lucasfilm owners, Disney, wouldn’t sue your pants from here to a galaxy far, far away. Two, every geek in the world has already had this thought bubble, and there are instructions online for constructing your own. MANY OF US, right this minute, are gazing at a 2016 as full of promise as an Anne Geddes calendar, and thinking: “Surely, this is the year I can make my dreams come true. Not to mention earn a few bucks.” And you know what? I think we can. Step one is analysing success stories from previous years (eg draping babies in bee costumes over flowerpots), and working out why that idea hit the zeitgeist bullseye, and yet your genius concept for a lightsaber vibrator has not, as yet, bought you a house* . Which brings me to Frozen. This Disney animation (2013), which follows the journey of Snow Queen Elsa and her impetuous younger sister Anna, has permeated our society in a way unrivalled since Mrs Marsh demonstrated liquid getting into chalk in the Colgate FluoriGard ads of the 1970s and 80s. It’s not just that Frozen is popular, because “popularity” can be fleeting. Pop-culture trends spike and fade (Miley Cyrus, anyone?) Frozen, however, is indelible. Once it’s got you, it doesn’t let go. Most of us are in relationships that are less intense than our connection to Frozen, and I don’t even have the excuse of children. Watched it once, can’t stop singing the damn song. The damn song, of course, is the key. I strongly suspect that if it weren’t for ‘Let It Go’, Frozen would have already gone the way of, say, Up (2009), another intelligent, heart- tugger of an animation. I watched Up recently on a flight, wept buckets on the plane, marvelled at its brilliance, and I’ve already moved on. For one thing, crotchety old guys aren’t as marketable as feisty princesses with superpowers and epic ballads. For another, while Up eloquently explores love, grief and the concept of it’s-never-too-late, it doesn’t transfer into the real world. One of Pixar’s most successful films, Inside Out (2015), is being used all over the place as a template for explaining emotions to children. But the brilliance of Frozen, I’d suggest, is that ‘Let It Go’ expresses a key emotion for adults. Most of us have to let some frigging thing go on a daily, if not hourly, basis, and it’s utterly therapeutic belting it out through one of the catchiest hook lines ever written. No wonder Frozen’s the highest-grossing animated film of all time, its centrepiece » For virtually more FSN, visit fionascottnorman.com.au or follow her on Twitter @FScottNorman.