Flat White

Mardi Gras: coming soon to a shoppingtown near you

5 March 2018

8:05 AM

5 March 2018

8:05 AM

Long before the floats paraded down Sydney’s Oxford Street, Maxi Shield and her ‘Queens’ were prancing through Pitt Street Mall. This was Westfield’s official endorsement (along with Byron Bay Cookies) of the fortieth anniversary of the 2018 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

But not everyone at the company is supportive of the event. An insider at Westfield — who obviously wanted to remain anonymous — said to me:

This has caused concern and discontent in and out of the company…What were we thinking! Just wrong. People think it’s about fairness. We all support fairness, respect and acceptance even if there is disagreement, but this is not what this issue is about. If we are going to adopt this approach, then we should be celebrating a lot more causes and stances than just this one.

You see, it’s not as though Westfield is offering is the equivalent to say, that quirky Aussie classic, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. As Maxi Shield’s Instagram account demonstrates, he/she takes things to a whole new level. (Before you click on the link, a warning – there are some things you cannot “un-see”.)

Pushing the boundaries in relation to sexuality has always been something that Hollywood has always prided itself on doing. And even with the litany of sexual abuse allegations being raised by those who have worked in the industry, there seems to be no indication of this obsession abating.

Significantly, The Washington Post outlines how Disney has also been consistently involved in this socially progressive trend. But then came the Twitter campaign #GiveElsaAGirlfriend which started trending back in 2016.

Jennifer Lee, the writer and director of Frozen, was recently asked by the Huffington Post, whether or not this might actually occur. Her response?

I love everything people are saying [and] people are thinking about with our film – that it’s creating dialogue, that Elsa is this wonderful character that speaks to so many people. It means the world to us that we’re part of these conversations.

We’re going with it, we have tons of conversations about it, and we’re really conscientious about these things. For me… Elsa’s every day telling me where she needs to go, and she’ll continue to tell us. I always write from character-out, and where Elsa is and what Elsa’s doing in her life, she’s telling me every day. We’ll see where we go.

Like many parents—and grandparents—I have lived through the Frozen phenomenon. And like so many others, if I hear the theme song, “Let it Go” just one more time then I think I’m going to snap. But what I didn’t realise until now was, according to Daily Kos, for many people it is also a LGBTIQ “coming-out anthem.”

That might seem like a bit of overreach — I always understood it as an expression of female empowerment — but read through the lens of say, Westfield, it makes perfect sense:

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see

Be the good girl you always have to be

Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know

Well, now they know!

However, the idea of completely abandoning any traditional moral framework is expressed a little later on when Elsa sings, just before belting out the second chorus:

It’s time to see what I can do

To test the limits and break through

No right, no wrong, no rules for me

I’m free!

I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but clearly Disney had a specific goal in subliminally introducing a gay character. And I’m not talking about Elsa, but Mr Oaken and his husband, complete with what he refers to as his “family” in the sauna. By the way, if it’s not his spouse, then what on earth is an adult man doing alone with four pre-pubescent children, huddled closely around him, in a secluded location, have a sauna?

According to Mic.com, this was one of the “Seven moments that made ‘Frozen’ the Most Progressive Disney Movie Ever.” As they explain:

Hey, did you notice the gay character? I didn’t either, until I went to see the film a second time. It turns out that giant man in “Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post and Sauna” is probably gay. When he throws in the sauna package for Kristoff, he turns to say “Hello, family!” and BAM! there they are.

The adult in the sauna is clearly implied to be his husband. Best yet, Oaken and his partner have a family — and it’s not even a thing. In the few minutes that he’s on screen, Disney manages to make a compelling character of Oaken.

I wrote an article in The Spectator Australia last year, outlining the various ways Australian society might change after the re-definition of marriage. And honestly, I thought it was pretty provocative, even edgy. But clearly, I was too conservative in my predictions.

Western society is changing more rapidly than anyone could have possibly expected in the post same-sex marriage era. And with ANZAC day just around the corner, it has me wondering, how long will it be before we start to see that particular cultural institution hijacked as well?

What has become clear is that Westfield and Byron Bay Cookies (I always had my suspicions regarding their famous multi-coloured biscuits), have joined with the likes of Disney in making sure that we all get on board the LGTBIQ train. And this is a journey we’re going to have to travel on whether we want to or not.

Who knows, when Frozen II is released in 2019, (the London Daily Telegraph has even started a countdown) maybe Maxi Shields and Co will be joined at Westfield Sydney with a lesbian Elsa?

Mark Powell is the Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Strathfield.

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