The Academy Award-winning husband and wife duo who wrote the songs for the popular animated film "Frozen" recently said that, while Disney is open to hiring staff who have worked on potentially off-color projects in the past, the company doesn't welcome God and religious themes into its movies.
During an interview with NPR host Terry Gross earlier this month, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez described their career, their sweeping success and their experience working for Disney.
Among the more notable points of discussion was the couple's past work on more edgy projects, particularly a musical adaptation of the story of Oedipus, a mythical Greek king.
"Oh. So it's interesting, I've -- you know, that's the story of incest," Gross said of their work on the Oedipus tale. "So that Disney would approach you after having done the musical version of it is kind of not what you'd expect. But that's great."
And that's when Anderson-Lopez explained that there is "theatrical tradition" behind many of the creative choices that are made at Disney, with her husband adding that the company really isn't a "sanitized place" that rejects people who have done "off color stuff in the past."
"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," Lopez said. "It was very campy and very kind of...a little off color and racy."
But his wife added one important caveat to that purported policy of openness -- God.
Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez perform at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center event to present Meryl Streep with the 14th Annual Monte Cristo Award at the the Edison Ballroom on April 21, 2014 in New York City. (Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center)
"It's funny," she said. "One of the only places you have to draw the line at Disney is with religious things, the word God."
Gross then asked, "You can't say the word God?," with Lopez subsequently clarifying his wife's remarks.
"There was even a -- well, you can say it in Disney but you can't put it in the movie," he added.
Anderson-Lopez agreed: "You can't put it in the movies."
Disney representatives did not respond to requests for comment from TheBlaze.
A scene from Disney's "Frozen" (Image source: Disney/YouTube)
Deacon Greg Kandra, a Roman Catholic leader, wrote a recent blog post about the interview, saying that if Lopez and Anderson-Lopez's claim is true, then Disney has moved away from at least one past allowance of God in its films.
"If that’s accurate, it marks a sea-change from a couple decades ago, when one of the most poignant songs from 'Hunchback of Notre Dame' included the ballad 'God Help the Outcasts' -- a song which, incidentally, remains one of my favorites from the Disney canon," Kandra wrote.
The lyrics read as follows:
"I don’t know if You can hear me
Or if You’re even there
I don’t know if You would listen
To a gypsy’s prayer
Yes, I know I’m just an outcast
I shouldn’t speak to you
Still I see Your face and wonder…
Were You once an outcast too?"
Hemant Mehta of the Friendly Atheist blog added that the "unwritten rule" about God in Disney films might be in place to help ensure that movie themes resonate with everyone and not just those who can be counted as believers in a higher power.
"What’s really amazing about that unwritten rule is that the universal themes of those movies come through loud and clear without religion. We love the movies because we empathize with the characters and root for good to win out over evil," he wrote. "Sticking religion where it doesn’t belong would only serve to alienate a segment of the population."
Here's a video of "God Help the Outcasts" below:
The couple's comments about "Frozen" come after a fair bit of debate surrounding themes embedded in the film. While some critics have said there are Christian undertones, others have claimed that the film touts homosexuality, among other themes.