Dear Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences,
When you’re planning the order of celeb appearances at the Oscars, consider the needs of a small but vocal sector of your audience: one so young, many of them don’t know how to write. These devotees of the Disney movie musical “Frozen” may know it’s nominated for awards in two categories, including Original Song for “Let It Go” sung by Idina Menzel. But whether the presumed front-runner wins is beside the point; all we parents care about is the moment when Menzel sings live on your show.
We need that to happen before our kids’ bedtime.
The music nominees are obviously a big deal for the Oscars this year. The singers’ combined star power prompted the first ever Oscar concert, held Feb. 27 in Los Angeles, where “Let It Go,” will be performed by its composers, Kristin Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.
But the song was written for Menzel’s voice, and you’re reserving her rendition for the broadcast, this elusive moment when we’ll get to collectively experience, in real time, just how her lungs launch those kerning notes.
Yes, it will be available on our DVR/YouTube the next day, but the point of admiring a Broadway pro’s talents is that she’s doing it live, and our little Princess Elsas aren’t going to “If/Then.” We want to witness the force behind the movie’s cathartic ballad that awed and inspired 4-year-old imitators. We want to see her bring it.
The promise of this possibility is what got us through this season, this alleged winter that nearly killed all the moms. Like ice in the fjords of Arendelle, we crack under the pressure of eternal cold. We needed to build an anchor under all that snow, a way to get us safely through it, and it turned out that something was getting “ ‘zen.”
“Frozen” was released Nov. 27, about three weeks after we turned the clocks back and early darkness began, and it will stay at the cineplex at least until the weekend that we reset the clock and spring forward. If it remains in theaters about two weeks beyond that, when it is released on DVD/Blu-ray, it will have outlasted the very season it depicts.
As the soundtrack from a 1964 buddy movie with a determined reindeer and a singing snowman greases our annual entry into winter, the soundtrack of a 2013 one helped us slog through the rest of it. Our kids’ obsession with it became a shared one, converting whole families — just look at what it did to one TV station’s traffic reporter. (What do you call someone who, oxymoronically, adheres to “Let It Go”? A ‘Zenophile?) Our singalongs would “raise us up and round us out” as we skidded to school after yet another two-hour delay. We let ourselves be as delusional as a snowman dreaming of summer.
For winter is a long sleigh ride, and there are only so many essays about feminism and Reddit AMAs and Buzzfeed quizzes to pull our harness up the North Mountain. We were led by a nose, Olaf’s nose: the carrot motivating us to have confidence that spring will come again. March 2 is in the same month as the vernal equinox, right? And so the Oscars became our closest approximation of the finish line, the last major event in our maelstrom narrative, the sign that we had made it.
You’ll say that I should take a hint from the song’s titular command, or that kids shouldn’t watch the Oscars. Certainly, we wouldn’t want them anywhere near Seth McFarlane’s “Boobs” of last year. But the awards offer valid lessons about teamwork and striving. And can’t we hope that this year’s host Ellen DeGeneres will bring her sensibilities of appropriate topics from daytime TV and her G-rated cred as a voice star from another Disney movie?
Love, we know, is an open door. But bedtime is not. Academy, like Elsa finds out in “Frozen,” and like the heroine from a kid-friendly movie you’re honoring on its 75th anniversary, you’ve had the power in you all along. You can send us home, send us one step closer to springtime. You can make the closing scene of our “Frozen” fandom this winter be just the way we scripted it in our heads.
And can you please send my kids to bed on time, too?