Frosty Returns (Jerz’s Literacy Weblog)
Last week we watched “Frosty Returns,” a 1990s sequel to the 1960s “Frosty the Snowman.”
I don’t see how you could say Frosty returns in the sequel, since this one is set in what appears to be a completely different town (someplace that has a long tradition of celebrating “Winter Carnival,” where all references to Christmas are carefully avoided), and concerns the animation of a completely different snowman — sans corncob pipe, button nose, and eyes made out of coal.
I can see the boardroom meeting now.
“The corn-cob pipe has to go. While the idea of re-using a corncob is itself environmentally friendly, the pipe is a patriarchal emblem of the cultural power of the tobacco industry. Perhaps if we put a line in there about Frosty smoking home-grown, organic marijuana — no, maybe not. We’ll save that for the director’s cut. The button nose not only evokes the plight of third-world laborers in the garment industry, but with his white, white skin, the small nose suggests racial overtones. Perhaps if an ethnically diverse cast of children constructed a snow golem that went on a righteous rampage against SUVs… that would be something! And since coal is a non-renewable resource, it’s simply wasteful to depict its frivolous use as a decoration.”
While the original Frosty reverted to lifeless snow as soon as his hat came off his head, this one can operate independently from the hat. While the original was set up such that the special properties of Christmas snow prompted the Santa ex Machina ending, I really wouldn’t have that much of a problem with generalizing the Frosty story to “the holidays,” since it’s not as if the story of an old silk hat was in the Bible. But the set of values and associations that replace Christmas in this story are weak..
In the new show, the villain is a businessman (white, old and miserly, of course) who invents a product that fills a cultural need. Who wouldn’t want a spray that melts snow in an instant? I’d buy it!
The show suggests that adults who look at snow and think only of shoveling and traffic jams are short-sighted, heartless materialists who seek shortcuts to personal comfort and individual gain. (Not at all like the producers of Frosty Returns.)
I can see into the boardroom again…
“In that other show, remember the magician who wants his hat back? In our sequel, we should be careful not to offend professional prestidigitationists and believers in the occult. So let’s make the little girl want to be a magician when she grows up. Oh, and just in case someone mistakes a story about the supernatural creation of life as some kind of intelligent design parable, better give the girl a sidekick who wants to be a scientist. Have the magician and the scientist join forces against big business, and so protect a completely secular and acultural civic tradition. Make sure to avoid red bows or green ivy or anything that could be mistaken for Christmas. We’ll call it the ‘Winter Carnival,’ and we’ll hope nobody notices that ‘carnival’ comes from the Latin for ‘farewell to the flesh,’ and carnival culture developed from the Roman Catholic tradition of celebrating in the days just before Lent begins. Oh, and just in case we get a sponsor from the chemical industry, make this Frosty really unlikeable, so that the audience will actually root for his chemical antagonist.”