Dear Anna Sofia and Elizabeth,
I'm writing in response to your article "Our Response to Rapunzel" (1) which is in italics below and my questions/comments are in normal typeface :)
Thank you for your email. We happen to already be familiar with your story as presented in “Tangled,” and even know a little more about your backstory than you do, and so we do have some thoughts for you.
We will be unusually blunt, because we know you are not a real person with feelings; you are the carefully written, cast, voiced, sketched, sculpted, scanned, painted, rigged, animated, rendered, and composited brainchild of John Lasseter, Glen Keane, and the Disney scriptwriting committee. We’re talking to you, polygons.
First off, when are you not blunt and commanding? It seems to me, by looking at your blog, and So Much More (which I have read) that you really love telling people what they can and cannot do as Christians. You seem to be trying to get back at Disney here, because as far as Tangled is concerned, you seem to think that Disney is attacking your lifestyle. Do you really think Disney knows about you/the stay-at-home daughters movement? Obviously, this lengthy article is a way for you to "get back" at Disney and defend your lifestyle.
And not only were you meticulously handcrafted by others: Your entire universe was built around you, detail by detail, by these same imagineers. Your particular situation, down to Flynn’s serendipitous appearance in your window – your moral dilemmas, down to your conflicts with your mother – the characters you ran into, down to the last pub thug – didn’t just happen, but were deliberated over by a bunch of businessmen for approximately ten years. Everything about your world, including the ethical system by which it operates, came out of somebody’s head.
I find it interesting that you have to use such big words to get your point across… really serendipitous isn’t it? Notice the sentence that is bolded above… yes, you ladies wrote it and first it makes me laugh, because you are assaulting a make-believe character, but then, it makes me sad, because I think you need to take your own advice. Anna Sofia and Elizabeth: Everything about your world, including the ethical system by which it operates, came out of somebody’s (Your father’s and his associate’s) head.
But here you are, in the middle of it, and you need advice. Let’s get down to helping you out! We would like to propose the following course of action for you:
Kill your mother with her own dagger (for poetic justice), run away from the tower once and for all, reunite with Flynn Rider (and propose to him – why not?), rally the thugs to your side, storm the castle together, throw out the authorities that were trying to imprison Flynn (doesn’t that make them the villains?), and establish yourselves as the ruling elite, where your word can be law, now not only for you, but for everyone.
No, of course that’s not the right answer. But why not?
Some might say that since your universe is a fantasy universe, God’s ethical system does not apply. But if His moral standard doesn’t have jurisdiction over this film – if, since this film isn’t a “Christian” film, we shouldn’t require it to line up with the Bible – then who could dare say bumping your mother out of the way would be wrong? Who’s to say any other solution would be morally better? Are we admitting that there is some overarching standard after all?
There is no connotation in the movie to Rapunzel or Flynn killing Mother Gothel. Rapunzel confronts her “mother” to try to find out the truth. Her “mother” is the one that reacts violently by chaining up Rapunzel and making her submit to a lifetime of slavery- yes, that is what it is. The definition of slave is: somebody forced to work for another. Rapunzel will be forced to keep her “mother” young. She is chained up and being dragged to another hiding place as Flynn arrives. Can you imagine what would happen if Rapunzel wouldn’t sing the song to her “mother” anymore? I imagine beatings, pain, injuries, and starvation. That’s right: physical abuse, in addition to the other abuse that she has already experienced.
We’ve got good news for you: You, Rapunzel, imaginary creature though you are, are not ultimately under the lordship of Disney Studios, but of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 commands all men to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” – which means every imagination, every script page, and every film frame. Christ demands that every man’s mind and the stuff in it bow the knee, and that would include you. And His moral system – His law – is still the standard by which your moral system must be measured. In other words, stabbing your mother would be wrong, not because it’s not the sort of thing a nice girl with a dream would do, not because it would be politically incorrect, not because it would disturb children – but because it breaks one of His commandments (Ex. 20:13). And that’s why, even though you’re a fairy tale creature, we’re going to respond to you as though you were a real person.
You really don’t like Disney, do you? The way you write, it makes me wonder if you are a little jealous of Disney Studios and their ingenuity? After all, your family does make movies and how successful can documentaries be?
I’m not sure where the whole stabbing your mother thing came from, because if you watch the movie, you will see that Mother Gothel actually stabs Flynn to kill him!
It is not Rapunzel trying to stab anyone- least of all her “mother.” Nor does the movie imply that that Rapunzel is thinking of stabbing her “mother,” but ladies, you have thought that up yourselves to fuel your argument. Therefore, the commandment: Thou shall not murder (Exodus 20:13) does apply to the movie, not to Rapunzel as you imply, but to Mother Gothel. Why do you keep acting like Mother Gothel is good?
What makes advising you tricky is that the brains who crafted your universe and situation never presented you with a good option. The film offered you two choices at the beginning: 1. Rot your useless life away in the tower with the world’s most detestable mother; or, 2. Defy your mother and run away from home with a thief. Your only visible choices now are: 1. Rot your useless life away in the tower with the world’s most detestable mother; or, 2. Follow your feelings, denounce your mother as a kidnapping imposter with no evidence, and leave again. Yes, it does occasionally seem that the only options life presents are bad ones, but in reality, doing right is always an option. Film has the power to create dishonest moral scenarios, forcing its characters to play a version of the lifeboat game (Who will you throw overboard, passenger A or passenger B?) and never offering a third option. And by making your option A look unspeakable, while making your option B look irresistible, “Tangled” draws us in so deeply that by the time your first moral dilemma comes around, we’re rooting for you to do (what we would normally call) the wrong thing.
No good option? What about returning to loving parents who both long for their kidnapped daughter to return home? What about forgive the person that helped rescue you, because obviously he doesn’t desire to be a thief any longer? The quote: 2. Follow your feelings, denounce your mother as a kidnapping imposter with no evidence, and leave again is incorrect. Rapunzel has evidence, just not documented and notarized- memories and a really good a gut instinct. And if she is wrong, why does her “mother” react the way she does? A little violent, don’t you think?
So what is the right (biblical) thing for you to do, now? Here are a few (serious) suggestions:
1. Check the facts regarding your identity.
Feelings, hunches, and childhood drawings are a bad guide (and insufficient evidence), especially in such high-stake situations. There are ways to figure out who you are. We, the audience, of course know that your Mother is actually an evil kidnapper and the villain of your story; but you, the protagonist, currently have about as much reason to suspect this as every girl in the audience does her own parents. If you were wrong, and she turns out to have been your biological mother all along:
She does check the facts. She confronts her “mother” about it. Her mother doesn’t deny it, but starts schmoozing Rapunzel and then becomes hostile. (I’ve just re-watched the scene to make sure I’m right, since I have the movie on my iPod) :)
2. Apologize sincerely for disobeying, deceiving, and defying her.
Some protest that you were justified in breaking the 5th commandment because she wasn’t really your mother, but let’s be honest: You didn’t leave because you knew that. You didn’t leave because you knew your mother’s command was biblically unlawful. You didn’t leave because you thought it would be wrong to stay and submit to the unbiblical tyranny of a kidnapping sorceress. You left because there was something you really wanted to do, the authority over you forbade it, and you decided to do what you wanted to do it anyway. You actually believed, and said, that it would be wrong for you to go. In your mind, you were as guilty of rebellion as the girl whose parents forbid her to go to a wild party and who sneaks out to go anyway: You left because you didn’t care.
We’re truly sorry that the filmmakers gave you such a loathsome creature as a mother. But if it’s wrong for her to be a law unto herself, you need to hold yourself to the same standard. “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” (1 Sam. 15:23)
Rapunzel was being held against her will, she is almost 18. She is an adult. How long must she have stayed in the tower to “obey her mother?” What’s a good age Anna Sofia and Elizabeth? You ladies are both in your mid-twenties, quite obviously living at home under your father’s protection, so maybe thirty or even forty years of age is more acceptable to be able to leave the few rooms that you have never left (in your memory)? Is doesn’t seem unrealistic to want to leave the tower, especially when you have never touched grass. By the way ladies, I really would like a response to this question!
Actually, FYI Mother Gothel isn’t her “mother”! So I'm not sure why you keep referring to her as such. Her mother is a very sweet, beautiful, yet sad queen who hasn’t seen her daughter since she was an infant. I like how you picked a verse out of the Old Testament that really is out of context here. The verse in 1st Samuel is when Samuel is confronting Saul with his sin of disobedience to God’s command on how to fight in a war. Now, I’m not saying that we can’t learn from the stories of the Old Testament and that we should rebel, practice witchcraft, etc…. but Scripture passages can’t be bent to help make a point for our own agenda.
3. Biblically examine the legitimacy of her commands.
Even if she is your biological mother, however, that doesn’t mean you have a duty of unconditional submission to her whims. “The requirement of unquestioning obedience by any human authority is a sin and defiles the very intent of God’s Word,” writes R.J. Rushdoony. “The unquestioning obedience which Scripture requires is only to God, never to kings, rulers, employers, husbands, or parents. To render unquestioning obedience is a sin.”
There comes a time when, in the words of our founders, “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God!” What you need to ask yourself is: Is your mother forcing you to sin, or is she forbidding you to do something God has commanded? In either case, you must disobey. (By the way, God didn’t command you to go see the floating lights.) And if she is physically abusing you or endangering your life, you have a duty to not be an accomplice to her crimes. You need to get out of there. Thankfully, you are fit and resourceful, as well as handy with your lasso hair, and you’ve gotten out of tougher scrapes. We’ll root for you.
You contradict yourselves here. In #2, you say You didn’t leave because you knew your mother’s command was biblically unlawful. You didn’t leave because you thought it would be wrong to stay and submit to the unbiblical tyranny of a kidnapping sorceress. You left because there was something you really wanted to do, the authority over you forbade it, and you decided to do what you wanted to do it anyway. Now you say in #3 that she does need to question her mother’s decision (so that she doesn’t submit with unquestioning obedience!). What if, since all of this has to be Biblical, it is God’s plan for her to leave her “mother” and see the floating lanterns? You can’t deny that it isn’t. Are the floating lanterns perhaps an allegory for the Light of the World—that is Jesus? The lanterns presence saves her from the abusive tower! She says that she feels that they are "meant for me" (and they are!) Hmmm…
4. Appeal to her regarding her sins against you in the spirit of Matthew 18:15:
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” If she refuses to be reasonable, the biblical answer is not to simply walk away from her forever. Verse 16 continues, “But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” Use your resourcefulness to bring in some authorities to handle the situation – and, yes, submit yourself to them. Unaccountable autonomy is an alternative Scripture never offers anyone, man, woman, or child.
Okay, so since she does confront her “mother” and her “mother” doesn’t deny it. How would she go about getting some other people to help her confront her “mother,” especially since her “mother” won’t let her leave the tower? Should she rebel and run away again? Oh wait, she can’t… her “mother” chains her up!
However… If she is not your biological mother, but instead a kidnapper:
2. Employ your resourcefulness to go to the authorities.
God condemned kidnapping as seriously as murder (Ex. 21:16, Deut. 24:7), and she needs to be brought to justice. This is bigger than you and your feelings; she has sinned against God and your parents as well as you, and right must be done.
Again, how is she supposed to leave and get help when her “mother” chains her up?
However, if justice is really your concern, then…
3….You also need to report the most wanted thief in the kingdom, who has also stolen precious items (the tiara) from your parents.
Flynn has also sinned against God and your parents, and again, this is bigger than you and your feelings. Biblically, he wouldn’t be hung or have his hands cut off, but there are consequences for stealing (Ex. 22:1-4, Lev. 6:1-7, Prov. 6:30,31).
This is not, of course, to assume that Flynn couldn’t repent of stealing. If he did, though, he would certainly go further than saying he’s sorry and never doing it again: He would make restitution to everyone he robbed, as many times over as biblically required. It would be nice if repenting meant not having to suffer the consequences, but God is a God of justice Who requires that things be made right. That He is also a God of mercy means that He does give second chances to those who repent, confess, make things right, go their way, and sin no more… and we can too.
First off, don’t you think that Rapunzel’s parents know that Flynn is a wanted thief? They also would end up hearing the entire story of how Rapunzel initially got out of the tower, so that would include the tiara. You might argue that they could leave out the tiara part- but that wouldn’t happen because they would be bringing the tiara back with them. :) So, in the end, he is turned in. He does repent from stealing- he doesn’t steal anymore, he turns into an accepted and respected member of the community, and most importantly: he is forgiven!
4. Don’t embrace thugs just because they’re nice to you.
This film for young girls contained an interesting message: That everything your mother taught you was wrong. One interesting example was your mother’s caution that the world contained dangerous men. No one would dispute this fact in the real world, but it was a point the film pulled some tricky stunts to prove wrong. At the end of the day, the openly brutal and violent thugs were proven to be harmless to pretty blond girls. The ones shown to be the real villains were parents.
As regards both Flynn and the pub thugs – of course they have souls! But it’s no amazing discovery that the more villainous elements of society also have feelings, dreams, even artistic impulses. Hitler was sensitive and introspective, wrote poetry, loved music and art, collected artifacts, had a dream (a big one), and liked pretty blonde girls. A penchant for collecting ceramic unicorns doesn’t make a criminal innocent. It also doesn’t prove that your mother was wrong about the world – even if she was wrong about how people should respond to it (i.e. hiding in a tower). Unfortunately, neither you nor she figured out what it means to be in the world but not of the world, or the right way to be a light in the darkness.
Ladies, you are being pretty stereotypical here. There are plenty of people who are lost in this world or don’t look clean and fresh with a suit coat on to run to the market. You went from one extreme to the other- there is a middle ground. There are bad men in this world, but there are also men who could seem a little scary or different, but are very nice people who happen to be Christians. My uncle could be considered a little scary to you: He has tattoos, ear piercings, and unkempt curly dark hair. But he is a Christian and would never hurt anyone. Don’t judge a book by its cover ladies!
So Rapunzel’s parents are villains? Mother Gothel is not her real mother and she is the villain of the movie, so your statement The ones shown to be the real villains were parents is incorrect. (And some of the thugs aren’t good- the ones who used to be in cahoots with Flynn aren’t good, nor does Rapunzel trust them.)
Doesn't she look like a villain to you? Yikes!
5. If you are found to be the Lost Princess, step up to the role of royal daughter, and all that that involves.
As the daughter of such obviously wonderful parents, you will obviously not have any excuses for running off to attend events they forbid, or becoming romantically entangled with young men they disapprove of. (If you never had an “authority problem” to begin with, this shouldn’t be a problem for you.) As a princess, however, your new responsibilities go even further than this. As soon as you put on that tiara, you have to stop being the main character of your story and let your subjects take that place. Instead of being slave to a tyrannical mother’s whims, you must now be a slave to duty and the needs of your people. Dancing with the peasants and drawing pictures with them on the sidewalks will not be enough. Whatever your feelings may be, you have to set an example of law-upholding conduct to your people. Whatever your (or others’) dreams may be, you have to impartially uphold justice. Whatever your diplomatic power may be, your word cannot be law.
And Rapunzel, we’re afraid this means that you are going to have to become a different kind of girl.
Sorry, but this made me laugh. Why does she need to change? Surely Rapunzel is embracing her new life as a Princess, Daughter, Friend, Leader, and Example to others. Since she spent the better part of 18 years perfecting her homemaking skills, she definitely has time to devote to serving her kingdom. Maybe she will be more willing to take a few risks and sure she’ll make some mistakes, but we all do. No one is above fault. Plus, since her Father is still the King, she won’t have to lead for a few years at least, so she can continue to grow and mold herself into the woman that she is meant to be. No changes needed.
Your example, unfortunately, can no longer be what it has been throughout the whole movie. You may be one of Disney’s most appealing recent characters, and you may have done some admirable things (such as try to sacrifice your life for Flynn). But your character is nonetheless an extremely dangerous one for girls to relate to.
Why? Because although your situation is so different from ours (our parents generally are our biological parents, and they generally aren’t locking us up in towers), and your universe operates so differently from ours (none of us have magic hair), your struggles, feelings, and questions are just the same. “Tangled” tackles the biggest issues in a young woman’s life: relationships with parents, attitudes toward authority, relationships with young men, the outside world, the use of our time, and our bigger purpose in life. It raises the questions every young woman is asking. Then it gives the exact wrong answers.
It only gives the wrong answers from your serve-your-father lifestyle and upbringing. I wonder what would happen if one day either or both of you announced to your parents (since you are well-over 20 and adults) that you were going to move out of their home, get a job, and maybe even take a few college classes. *gasp*How would your parents react? You are grown adult women- so maybe it was time that you did something on your own without your parents guiding your every step and protecting you from evil like they did when you were a child. (If Proverbs 22:6 is correct, then if your parents taught you well, you won't depart from your beliefs just because you don't live with them any longer or serve your father.)
When a girl sits down to watch your movie, she is about to vicariously live your story with you, feelings, attitudes, romance, temptations and all. She is “you” for the next 90 minutes. And what is she learning along with you? That our parents are wrong about everything. That all will turn out well if we just follow our hearts. That no man is so bad he wouldn’t “turn it all around” just for us. Through you, we tangibly feel the temptation to reject our parents’ instruction, keep secrets from them, and defy them – and then, through you, we give in to temptation. Through you, we feel pangs of guilt, shame, and fear of hurting people we love – and then, through you, we learn to stuff those feelings down and ignore them. Through you, we learn: What I want is more important than what I believe is right.
And at the end of your story, everything turns out beautifully to prove that when you chose to follow your heart rather than your conscience, you made the right moral decision.
Some might still point out that, in order for your story to work out, you had to. True, but next time any of us want to “pull a Rapunzel,” and do something we know is wrong to make things right, let’s remember that our stories are not Disney movies; that our world is not populated with Disney characters; that we are not Disney heroines whose universes revolve around us; and that our Creator has rigged things to work differently. We’ve had to watch girl after girl after girl make the same decisions you did, give in to temptation the way you did, sear her conscience the way you did, and run off with scoundrels like the one you did. Unlike you, they discovered that the real world revolves around a God Who isn’t them, and that He has built into His world rewards for sin that don’t generally include “Happily Ever After.”
If you were a little brainwashed into believing that the outside world was a “dangerous place,” you would be a little torn too. If suddenly you decided to leave a sheltered place, where lies were taught to you, you would be confused as to what to do. That’s part of the emotional abuse in the film. Then, when finding out that there is some good in the world after all, you might just have a mini-breakdown. :)
We admit, we don’t typically write emails to CG models representing imaginary people. The reason we’re writing to you is because for many girls, you’re much more than that. Though you’re just a figment of someone’s imagination, a mere idea – ideas are real. And that’s why “Tangled” matters. After all, girls don’t really love “Tangled” because it’s “just a movie.” The reason we love it isn’t because we just can’t, practically or morally, put ourselves in Rapunzel’s shoes. We don’t love it because it’s a totally un-relatable fantasy that has no connection to our lives. If we love it, it’s because it does strike a chord with our lives. We laugh and cry along with Rapunzel’s joys and woes because we can relate to her. And when we passionately, emotionally tell critics to leave it alone because “It’s just a movie!” we are proving that down inside our hearts, it’s much more than that.
Maybe you ladies are feeling a little torn? I feel sorry for you! I personally love this movie- for it’s elements, style, dialogue, and story; but I don’t feel emotionally drawn to it. It doesn’t make me feel like running away or disobeying, I’ve asked my friends too and none of them feel this way. But maybe it makes you feel a little confused? Are you or your friends feeling convicted and that’s why you seem so angry and on-fire about this movie? I’m praying for you both: praying that you can enjoy freedom in Christ. That you can live freely—able to not always focus on the negative, realize that you are the ones persecuting yourselves, that you can become free of the snares that entangle you (see verse below), and most importantly that you can feel the peace of Jesus without the weight of your pressured father-made rules. Hebrews 12:1-2 says “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Galatians 5:1“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”
You don’t have to be weighted down by the constant pressure to submit to your earthly sinful father and his will for you. Instead submit to your perfect Heavenly Father and live a life free from the burden of guilt and pursuing perfection. I recommend that you read Philippians 2—and memorize, think, ponder, pray, and look for God’s will in your life—not your father’s will. You know, Ephesians 2:8-9 states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” So nothing that you do for your personal or for your father’s glory is going to get you into Heaven. Only Jesus Christ’s death for you on the cross for your sins and your belief in Him is going to save you- by His grace and your faith.
You may be just an idea, an imagination, a thought – but thoughts (not people) are exactly what we’re commanded to take captive (2 Cor. 10:5). “Arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” are exactly what we are supposed to destroy (v. 5). Strongholds are exactly what we are supposed to tear down (v. 4).
Rapunzel, Rapunzel, we’re not condemning you.
We’re just trying to take you captive.
Oh dear… that is kind of scary! Thankfully you can’t take Rapunzel captive, Mother Gothel is gone and so are the ties to the abuse that she perpetrated. Anna Sofia and Elizabeth- I am not condemning you. I just want you both to experience the grace and love of Jesus Christ and the freedom that He has waiting for you!
Love, Anna Sofia and Elizabeth
Note: I did send this letter to the Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin last week. I have yet to receive an answer to my questions.