Elsa’s twitter girlfriend – progress vs profit

It’s official; Twitter has spoken. Twitter has instructed Disney to give Elsa a girlfriend in the sequel to “Frozen.” The question is, will Disney do it?

My guess is that they won’t, because they know something about their customers that apparently Twitter doesn’t understand.

As a Father of a young girl who went through that whole I-need-everything-Disney-Princess-related stage in life (she no longer wears the Disney dress to church), and having actually visited DisneyWorld while she still exhibited remnants of that phase, the key insight that Disney “gets” that Twitter doesn’t is that girls want to buy stuff. They want the dress. They want the shoes and the hair style.

Why do they want this stuff? For most of them I don’t think it’s because they are inherently materialistic at that age (they learn that from their parents later in life) but because, at some deeper level, they relate to the Disney Princesses. Whatever else you might say about Disney, they have managed to tap into some deep ethos inside the little girl that will drive the little girl to sing the songs from the movie, recite lines from the movie and – most importantly – buy stuff that reminds them of the movie.

Because they resonate with it. They “get it.” And more importantly, in some fantastical sense, little girls want to be the Disney Princess. Somehow what they see on the screen exemplifies some aspect of who they understand themselves to be and what they value in life. When they put on that Disney princess dress they are not merely dressing up for the sake of dressing up, they are taking on the very persona of the character portrayed in the movie. They become a princess; the magic begins.

Disney definitely writes movies with the adult audiences in mind, but the adults (and even teens) will watch the movie and talk about it, but it’s the little girls who will desperately want to buy all that other stuff. They will ask their parents to watch the movie over and over again. The real market momentum comes from that demographic.

And, unfortunately for Twitter, that market reality makes the idea of giving Elsa a girlfriend a bad business concept. Most girls at that age are not personally experiencing romance in their own lives which begs the question, why introduce romance at all, heterosexual or homosexual? Even girls who are not yet experiencing romantic impulses are still deeply relational and they “get” the significance of romance. They find it attractive, even if they are not at that particular stage in life.

Buy why specifically heterosexual romance? Two reasons come to mind. First, because over 98% of people are heterosexual. Disney isn’t stupid; they can do the math. If they create a movie with a homosexual romance that is central to the plot, that movie might resonate with 2% of their little girl audience, but it will leave the other 98% going…

And when your product is an “experience” then it is absolutely imperative to your success that your audience resonates with the experience. If they are left scratching their head then you’ve just waved good-bye to a massive market opportunity. And little girls, it is clear, represent a massive market opportunity.

There is another reason little girls have a heterosexual paradigm as their default view. Little girls (and little boys for that matter) exist as a result of heterosexual intercourse. Their heterosexual parents physically brought them into existence in the first place and, most of the time, are actively working to raise them. In all likelihood it is their heterosexual parents who brought them to the theatre, bought them the Disney dress, and are sitting with them (rolling their eyes, or falling asleep) as they are forced by parental duty to endure the Frozen movie for the 4,729,531 time.

The only sexual relationship capable of producing the Disney audience is a heterosexual relationship, and the little girls going to the movies are therefore vastly more likely – statistically – to have the heterosexual relationship between their parents as the default model through which they understand romance.

Progressives may not like these biological facts, but Disney is almost certainly smart enough to recognize who they are dealing with, and cater to their audience. Disney is a company that needs to make a profit. They can afford to be “progressive” in certain limited areas of their business, but the need for profit is almost certainly going to drive their decision to keep the romantic narratives in their stories consistent with what will naturally resonate in the hearts and minds of little girls everywhere.

Which raises another interesting question. Twitter has spoken, who are we to stand against the cultural force of the collective wisdom of the Twitterverse? After all, even reputable news sources have taken to inserting tweets into their news stories. Surely if Twitter says it, I ought to believe it; the matter should be settled, right?

Tell me about this “Twitter” of which you speak. Twitter has about 65 million active users in the USA, which has a population exceeding 300 million. Active Twitter users in the USA represent about a quarter of all Americans, and according to one of the previous links, 44% of Twitter users created an account and then never sent a single tweet. It would seem a number of people feel some kind of pressure to join the Twitterverse, then they really have no idea why they are there. How many of those who actually got around to tweeting are still wondering, in their more honest moments, why they are there?

[Personally, I still have social media accounts, but they are little more than shells. That’s a subject for another day.]

And I’m fairly certain that most little girls who watch the Disney movies don’t have a Twitter account. Or a mobile phone. Or even an email address. Many of their parents do, but even then it’s far from the majority.

Many people seem to think that when Twitter speaks, somehow that represents the ethos of the day. Reality is quite different; more than 3/4 of people don’t have a Twitter account, or they basically never use it. Put another way, more than 3/4 of people who might go to a Disney movie and buy Disney merchandise are not connected to Twitter.

Therefore, when “Twitter speaks” the majority of people respond thusly…