The Problematic Nature of Fixer Upper
I have a fairly large bone to pick with the Fixer Upper scene. I mean THIS is the scene that’s meant to be the big love duet for Kristoff and Anna? Fixer Upper is what stops Frozen from being completely perfect. While Fixer Upper is cute and catchy and has been stuck in my head for the past two weeks, there’s a lot wrong with how it fits within the narrative framework of Frozen.
Fixer Upper has some messages to get across, don’t get me wrong. I just find issue with those messages.
Starting simple, the purpose of Fixer Upper is to further reinforce the fact that Anna and Kristoff belong together (further further reinforced in the following scene where Hans acts as Elsa’s hero, instead of Anna’s). This is all well and good except:
This is unnecessary. It would have made the end seem more smooth without the obligatory love duet, since we’re already witnessing the natural progression of their relationship throughout the film. The point was it wasn’t love at first sight between them, it was very natural. They fall in love over the course of the film. So this scene was jarring in that respect. Instead of what could have been a subtle and natural romance plot that culminates in the (Anna and the audience’s) stunning realization that “Kristoff loves me?” We get to roll our eyes at how far behind Anna is.
Next, Bulda sings of the abstract theme of the song, “People make bad choices when they’re mad or scared or stressed. But throw a little love their way and you’ll bring out their best.” It relates back to the theme of the movie, and this is always good. What’s more, bringing it back and deliberately saying it can be platonic “Father! Sister! Brother! We need each other …” was a nice touch. A lot of people relate this verse back to Elsa, and I personally like that.
Unfortunately, there is an underlying problem with this message and here it is:
How many Frozen fans belt out against Hanna (or Helsa) shippers. Hans is an irredeemable character, who doesn’t deserve love!! Nevermind the fact that he never had love in the first place.
I think Hans is a tragic figure because he’s a consequence of being raised without love. - Jennifer Lee
If all you have to do is “throw love” someone’s way to “bring out their best”, isn’t it hypocritical to say that Hans can never be redeemed? If Anna just loves him enough, would he get fixed? According to this song, yes. Doesn’t this lead to unhealthy relationships? Love, in all its forms, is a two-way street.
Finally, a problem I found more on the surface of the song. The audience is meant to laugh at Kristoff’s misfortune of having to deal with his pushy parents because duh you do belong together! Right? But some of the things the trolls do and say are problematic in their own right and Disney fails to frame it as such. This is exacerbated by the fact that we’re meant to agree with them.
The trolls completely ignore Anna’s and Kristoff’s protests. Going so far as to deride Anna’s engagement. “Get the fiance out of the way …” Since we side with the trolls, (you can’t marry a man you just met) this is meant to incite nods from the audience but this is extremely disrespectful to Anna. Even if we don’t agree with Anna’s engagement, it’s her bad decision to make. In fact, at this point in the movie we have no reason to doubt Hans’ sincerity.
This pushiness culminates in an almost troll wedding that neither Kristoff nor Anna agreed to. I’m not sure about you, but I want an OTP to get married because they want to (and not the same or second day they met, sounds familiar?). This rewinds the message we’ve been hearing over and over again since the beginning, take it slow and get to know each other.
1) It ruins the natural progression of Kristoff’s and Anna’s relationship by giving us a jarring musical number that forces them to appreciate each other.
2) If you’re not ok with redeeming Hans then this song isn’t for you. Since love cures all, right?
3) Takes away Kristoff and Anna’s agency in their own relationship, ignoring protests and forcing marriage on them. Regressing the message we heard from the beginning (about Hans) that relationships are a slow process of getting to know each other.
Remember you can love a piece of media and still be critical of some problematic aspects.