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Criticising the Classics

Keira Knightley using Frozen's Elsa to bolster her criticism of classic fairytales is pointless

‘I just wonder what Elsa would say to Ariel.’

AS THE KEIRA vs Cinderella war wages on, most of us are admittedly tiring of the saga somewhat.

Colette UK Premiere - 62nd BFI London Film Festival Matt Crossick Matt Crossick

It all kicked off last month when Keira told Ellen DeGeneres that Cinderella and The Little Mermaid’s Ariel are personae non gratae in her home.

Their crimes? One waited to be rescued while the other gave up her voice for a man.

Look, the vast majority of us would agree that Keira’s perspective is somewhat myopic, given the fact that the fairytales were most certainly of their time and most of us see them as little more than a snapshot into relatively archaic social etiquette.

But whatever; Keira’s house, Keira’s rules.

Weeks on from the furore, however, she is still being quizzed on the subject – most likely because she is currently starring in Disney’s The Nutcracker And The Four Realms – and she used other films to reinforce her argument.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms European Premiere - London Empics Entertainment / PA Images Empics Entertainment / PA Images / PA Images

Speaking to Press Association yesterday, the 33-year-old said:

I just wonder what Elsa [from Frozen] would say to Ariel and Cinderella because Elsa has some serious opinions about Anna going off with a guy that she’s only just met and saying she would marry him.

“She’s like “absolutely that is not okay” and in fact everyone in Frozen is not okay with that,” Keira argued.

What would Elsa say to Ariel, who gives up her voice for a man? A man, by the way, she has only seen dance round a ship and then drown!

“And it’s 100 per cent amazing of Ariel to save the guy, I’m totally up for that, but what would Elsa make of that?” Keira asked.

I think Elsa would be like: “Babe, you’ve got to get to know him better, don’t give up your voice just yet”.

OK, so with the introduction of Frozen to this whole saga, let’s do some unpacking.

And this is it; Keira isn’t comparing like with like.

Frozen and Moana, for example, are of their time, created while a concerted effort is being made within the entertainment industry to represent strong, independent women. The same obviously cannot be said of Cinderella and The Little Mermaid.

The goalposts have moved so much that to focus on the shortcomings of a classic over the triumphs of new release – or indeed to use the latter as a stick with which to beat the former – is a fairly redundant endeavour.

If the likes of Frozen and Moana didn’t exist today, and the entertainment industry continuously peddled archaic female stereotypes to this generation’s children, then we might have a problem on our hands.

But they don’t, and we don’t.

We attempt to learn from history; whether it’s social, political or cultural, and to disregard certain elements because they don’t fit today’s current climate is a missed opportunity.

As opposed to banning her daughter from watching Cinderella and The Little Mermaid, perhaps it would be worth screening them alongside a modern-day classic like Frozen, and using it as a tool to track the progress which has been made regarding women’s place in society.

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