Frozen 2 is my new favorite animated show. The songs are great and the story is compelling. But the thing I really like about it is that it captures the feeling of our time better than any other show, animated or otherwise. Frozen 2 is a Millenial Masterpiece.
Specifically, Frozen 2 captures the sense of what it feels like to grow up and realize that you still don’t know what the heck is going on. To illustrate, I want to talk about a few of the songs. Let’s start with “Into the Unknown”. I encourage you to listen to them if you aren’t familiar, as they really are amazing.
Elsa found her powers and took her place as the Queen in the first movie, but by the beginning of the second she starts to have that feeling that is familiar to many ageing Millenials. In other words, she’s having a mid-life crisis.
The difference between Baby Boomers and Millenials is that Boomers all joined the Peace Corps, then got a job a Goldman Sachs, and then for their mid-life crisis they had an affair and bought a Ferrari.
Millenials, on the other hand, got a job at Goldman first, and then for their mid-life crisis they quit and join the Peace Corps. They spent their whole youth thinking about their identity, but when they reach middle age they realize that they haven’t really had their Hero’s Journey, so off they go, into the unknown.
One of my favorite songs in the show treats the idea that you will grow up and know what is going on as a joke.
Olaf the snowman serves a comic relief role in the show, and it is telling that he is always talking about philosophical theories. Basically, to Millenials, the philosophies handed down to them from previous generations seem like a joke. The old philosophies don’t convincingly explain the purpose of life, or how to be content in a way that makes sense to the present generation. We play around with philosophy in college dorm rooms, but is isn’t any more useful than a magic snowman.
So, what does one in this kind of situation do? Well, there’s a song for that, too.
When you can’t see two feet in front of you, you just do the next right thing. In a way this is a noble and valuable attitude, but it also carries with it the implicit assumption that you don’t know anything about what is “right” other than the very next thing. In other words, “Do the Next Right Thing” is an anthem for those who can’t see beyond that (i.e., for those who are Lost in the Woods). It really captures the zeitgeist of our times.
To be clear, I think the “Do the Next Right Thing” philosophy is admirable. If you don’t really know where you are going with your life it is perhaps the only right philosophy. But it does create a call to action. If, as a culture, we don’t know what the heck we are doing with our adult selves, we have some work to do. Let’s figure it out.