Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

'Frozen' songwriters say there is no 'God' ban at Disney

By Jeff Peterson, For the Deseret News

Published: Fri, May 2 8:17 p.m. MDT

 Elsa in \

Elsa in "Frozen."

(Disney)

According to Business Insider, “Frozen” songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez say there’s no such thing as a Disney-imposed ban on the use of religious expressions like the word “God.”

Earlier in the week, part of an April 10 NPR interview with the husband-and-wife duo was widely quoted in which Anderson-Lopez said, “One of the only places you have to draw the line at Disney is with religious things, the word ‘God.’ ”

Lopez then clarified, saying that “you can say (‘God’) in Disney but you can't put it in the movie.”

The notion that certain religious words are being excised from Disney movies prompted some strong reactions across the Internet.

Business Insider, however, caught up with the couple at a gala event for Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People,” where they were being honored, and asked about the so-called ban.

Anderson-Lopez said their comments were “completely misconstrued.” They were referring to just “one instance,” she said — a line from the song “Let It Go” that originally read, “Couldn't keep it in, God knows I tried.”

"That's what we were going to do and our collaborators felt that could be construed as using the Lord's name in vain, so we didn't put it in the movie.”

Instead, they opted for something only slightly (if at all) less religious: “Heaven knows I tried.”

In other words, the decision to avoid using the word ‘God’ was not prompted so much by a move towards political correctness or increased secularization on Disney's part as it was sensitivity to its religious audience members.

Just to set the record straight, though, Anderson-Lopez reiterated: “Disney does not have a policy of not using the word ‘God’ at all.”

Which makes a lot of sense if you look back on the company’s animated features over the years, which include plenty of references to “gods” and “goddesses” (“Hercules”) as well as “God” in an explicitly Christian context (“The Hunchback of Notre Dame”).

If there were a ban, Disney hasn’t done a very good job of enforcing it.

Jeff Peterson is a native of Utah Valley and studied humanities and history at Brigham Young University. Along with the Deseret News, he also contributes to the film discussion website TheMovieScrutineer.com.

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1. Schnee
Salt Lake City, UT,
May 2, 2014

So people wanted to boycott Disney because Disney was concerned about including something that might be perceived as breaking the 4th Commandment...

2. HelioTeller
Mapleton, UT,
May 2, 2014

"In other words, the decision to avoid using the word ‘God’ was not prompted so much by a move towards political correctness or increased secularization on Disney's part as it was sensitivity to its religious audience members."

So... political correctness?

3. slcdenizen
t-ville, UT,
May 2, 2014

@HelioTeller

"So... political correctness?"

Don't mention to the religion crowd that they are both the loudest complainers and fiercest enforcers of "political correctness". They guffaw when particular groups prefer specific titles or reference wording, but break down in anguish at the slightest perceived threat against their fairy tale beliefs. It's quite sad what America has devolved into...

4. PLM
Kaysville, UT,
May 3, 2014

I'm sorry but depictions of polytheistic pagan gods in Hercules and a villainous priest in Hunchback don't really refer to the loving God the Christians and Jews revere. Do the writers have a better argument?

5. I know it. I Live it. I Love it.
Provo, UT,
May 3, 2014

These 2 are hardly experts on the matter and are just as subject to opinion as everyone who comments on the Deseret News.

Look at the trends, what makes money and what companies are doing. What's true is true is true. If they aren't making films with religious meaning, then they are avoiding them. Whether they'll say "God" or not is irrelevant. Whether religious faith and meaning is a factor in the protagonist's development in a story is worth more examination.

The truth is: Disney avoids religion in high-budget films. Belief in yourself and your own abilities (the workmanship of your own hands) appeals to a wider demographic. I'm starting to care less about watching popular films and more about finding good media that's genuine. It doesn't need to be religious, cheesy, or a tear-jerker. I just want something genuine, real, and more enjoyable than the cash-cow industry film.