Moving countries is a sure way to put all sorts of parts of your psyche to the test. The new culture(s), the change in weather patterns, missing your favourite cafe or radio station or park, the relationships to build .. all of these and so much more splash around the surfaces of the consciousness. You are out-of-place: you know it, others know it. It’s obvious.
When we moved to South Africa nearly 5 years ago we experienced all of this. It felt like we were constantly missing out on something. It’s not so much destabilising as it is the creation of a whole new identity. Much of what you had become accustomed to building around you as part of your sense of self is gone and you have to do it all over again. One of the things I discovered I was missing out on was a name for this experience of missing out on things. I don’t know if it’s especially popular in this country or this part of this country, but I kept hearing and noticing 4 letters as part of speech. FOMO. It sounded like the name of a music festival; it would be casually slipped into a conversation and the locals would laugh. ‘FOMO! Ahh…’ Like the new car I hadn’t seen before, it was suddenly everywhere.
It stands for Fear Of Missing Out, and apparently it’s a thing. I don’t know where it came from and I’m not especially keen on finding out, but some people were having counselling or prayer ministry to deal with their FOMO. I was missing out on missing out.
Another area I was missing out on had nothing to do with moving to South Africa, but has more to do with the fact that my wife and I don’t have children. Though we both love films, this does mean that we tend to avoid seeing films that are aimed at more of an all-age audience and tend to concentrate on more ‘adult’ fare. (no, not that sort of adult). This means that sometimes we miss out; over the last couple of years it felt like we’d Missed Out in a very big way. Because, you see, we hadn’t seen Frozen.
Frozen is one of those animated films that has become a huge cultural icon. ‘Let It Go’ is everywhere. People are always posting hilarious versions of it on social media relating to news events or life in general; comments would be made about the cold not bothering me anyway. There were debates about how feminist it is, or isn’t. None of which I watched, understood or partook in. I was Missing Out and I didn’t like the feeling. Or so I thought.
So we recorded it off the television, and did the decent thing last week. We watched it as originally intended – with an eleven year old who’s currently staying with us along with her mother. Do you think you have ever Missed Out on something? Not only had the 11-year old not seen Frozen before, she’s never seen snow or ice (we live in Cape Town).
Most of you don’t need me to tell you that Frozen is a really good film. The songs really do work; Let It Go is proper ear-worm fodder; the snowman and the reindeer are classic creations. I laughed out loud several times, as did the 11-year old. Finding ourselves thinking about fostering I thought … if I was responsible for an 11-year old girl, would I want her to see this film? Yes, probably, I thought. Not only is it great fun but it’s refreshing to see an animated princess who has agency and decision-making power and who isn’t defined by the colour pink or her choice of man. It’s got a way to go – I was a little troubled by the subtext that a woman’s emotions affects everything and everyone around her – but this is much better a role model for young girls than many an all-age film I’ve come across before.
For me it’s a good animated film; up there with Up and Wall-E but not in Toy Story trilogy territory. But here’s the thing; it was better when I hadn’t seen it. Not having seen it had actually become part of me; a small part of me, but part of me nonetheless. I had gained a bit of cultural kudos from not having seen it; I was the person who hadn’t seen Frozen!!! Now I was one of the crowd, just like everyone else. I was laughing at the jokes. I understand the lines about the cold not bothering me – but the thing is, it kind of does. It was a bit better on the outside.
That shouldn’t surprise me. People tend to experience me as a bit ‘alternative'; just this week a friend in the same group discussion as me started laughing as soon as I took the microphone because he ‘just knew you’d say something subversive‘. I guess he was right; I talked about the way a certain passage of the Bible was used in demonic and dangerous ways by evangelicals like us.
I need to watch this, though. Defining myself by something other than what Jesus says about me is very dangerous territory. I may prefer being a little on the edge but He says I’m chosen and accepted and in. If I’m not careful I could find myself frozen out just to make sure my fragile sense of self is intact. Better to get that from Him, not whether I’ve seen a given movie or what I think about a certain passage.
Frozen is a good movie; I’m glad I’ve seen it. I do miss missing out, though.
Not to worry. Big Hero 6 has just been released.
I rated this film 4/5 on rottemtomatoes.com and 8/10 on imdb.com