Disney Is Tolerant of Anything in Its Movies...Except God - 'Frozen' and 'Book of Mormon' Songwriters Reveal

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By Morgan Lee , Christian Post Reporter
April 12, 2014|11:14 am

The husband and wife team behind the Oscar-winning Frozen said on Thursday that while Disney is open to bringing songwriters from diverse backgrounds, God is the only thing that they have seen censored since they have worked there.

Idina Menzel as Elsa sings "Let It Go" in Disney's 2013 hit film "Frozen." (Photo: MovieClips Trailer Screenshot)

Idina Menzel as Elsa sings "Let It Go" in Disney's 2013 hit film "Frozen."

Speaking on NPR's Fresh Air show, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez told host Terry Gross that some of the preconceptions outside of the industry folks might have about Disney may not be exactly true.

"Disney is not this sanitized place that you might imagine it to be. I mean, they hired Ashman and Menken after they did "Little Shop of Horrors," which was sort of the Avenue Q of its day. It was very campy and very kind of...a little off color and racy. And I don't think Disney has any problem with employing people who have, you know, done off-color stuff in the past," Lopez, who co-wrote the satirical Book of Mormon, said.

Anderson-Lopez noted, "It's funny. One of the only places you have to draw the line at Disney is with religious things, the word God."

"Yeah. You just can't," agreed her husband.

A confused Gross followed up with her guests, asking "You can't say the word 'God'?"

Lopez hesitated, "There was even a - well, you can say it in Disney but you can't put it in the movie," which his wife affirmed.

After Gross pointed out that Lopez's Tony-award winning Broadway was about faith, he brushed off her point, saying that the media attention had always highlighted Matt Stone and Trey Parker, writers of the show South Park.

While Lopez and Anderson-Lopez refused to elaborate about Disney's religiosity, they freely shared about their inspiration for Let It Go.

"Basically when this song came to us, we were on a little stroll through Prospect Park in Brooklyn near our house, and we both started to sort of improv what Elsa might be feeling like. So we stood up on picnic tables," said Lopez.

"We got very emo," continued Anderson-Lopez. "You know, we had been listening - we decided we didn't want this song to be a traditional Disney princess song. So we were listening to singer-songwriters like Amy Mann and Tori Amos and Sara Bareilles. And we just wanted to approach this song in a different way."

"And actually it was Bobby who kept saying I feel like if I were a high school student, that this would be that moment that you had worked, and you'd studied, and you hadn't gone out, and then you just failed a test miserably. And what would that feel like? And he came up with the line," she added.

Gross later joked that parents "would probably prefer that their children sing (singing) hold it in, hold it in...Like hold it back because, like, sometimes you don't want kids to, like, let it go because they're just going to be like - they're so crazy as it is. Do you know what I mean? Like you want them to have a little bit of inhibition."

Anderson agreed with Gross' pointed but suggested a different message for the song that she saw as one she would share with her two children, who also sing on the Frozen soundtrack.

"That's true, but I think at the end of the day, letting - getting the message of don't allow fear or shame to keep you from being the person you should be, I imagine on a global level that's a good lesson for them to have before teenager-hood. If they've been living with fear and shame, and then it's really going to hit the fan."

While the Book of Mormom has been criticized by some at mocking the LDS church and coming across as "gratuitously vulgar and even sacrilegious," Lopez has defended the film's lyrics and content, instead insisting that he and his fellow writers have an "appreciation of Joseph Smith," and were "careful not to point out a lot of negative stuff about Mormons."

Lopez also was quoted in the BMI piece as arguing that the show was "really pro-religion and pro-faith. It's not saying that religions don't do bad things, but it does say that when taken the right way, religion can accomplish a lot of good in people's lives."

After Lopez won an Academy Award in February, he became an EGOT, or a recipient of an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony.

Frozen has taken in $1,097,430,622 worldwide and as of Tuesday, the soundtrack had sold 1.9 million copies domestically.

 

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