Lieutenant colonel uses Marines’ “Frozen” video to open the dialogue on sexual assault



A Marine Reserve officer is taking some heat for an opinion piece he wrote analyzing the reaction to a viral video in which Marines filmed themselves belting out the lyrics to the girl-power anthem, “Let It Go.”

In a piece for The Daily Beast titled “Why these Marines love ‘Frozen’ and why it matters,” Aaron B. O’Connell — a lieutenant colonel in the Reserve and history professor at the U.S. Naval Academy — said the public’s reaction to the video is flawed. Those who were calling it “adorable” missed the point, he wrote.

Instead, he says the Marines’ performance is a glimpse into how the military treats sex and violence. The video wasn’t about their love for Disney sing-alongs, he wrote. Instead, it highlighted the Marines’ lust over the the sexy cartoon princess who let down her hair and got a new dress with a slit up her leg, his piece stated.

“That most of the Marines’ millions of online admirers confused lust with a love of sing-alongs is a comic misunderstanding,” the piece states. “It reveals just how unaware most Americans are of how their military prepares young people to do violence in defense of the nation.”

Those who commented on O’Connell’s piece suggested he was over-analyzing the video that was simply meant to be funny. But he said there needs to be a conversation about the chemical connection between violence and sex, since both stem from the same hormone: testosterone.

While military life does a good job of allowing Marines to channel testosterone on the violence side through teaching them how to kill, it doesn’t always provide room for a healthy sex life, he wrote.

“Testosterone is the critical ingredient of molding young people into violent instruments, and while there are ample tools for directing soldiers’ impulses on the battlefield, barracks life and base demographics give young people few opportunities for healthy adult sexual relationships,” his piece states.

O’Connell told Marine Corps Times that those who interpreted his piece as critical of the Marines in the video were wrong.

“There’s nothing wrong with young Marines finding the Elsa character sexy — after all, that’s how Disney drew her,” he said. “In fact, the piece didn’t criticize those Marines at all.  It criticized the many civilians who can only seem to think of Marines as G-rated super heroes or X-rated predators.”

In his piece, O’Connell said it’s important to stop viewing Marines between those two extremes.

“Military life is not a Disney film, but neither is it X-rated,” he wrote. “And yet, the national conversation on sex and violence seems stuck between these two extremes — presenting troops as either fairy tale heroes or out-of-control predators. Let’s elevate the dialogue.”

Whether people understood his point or not, O’Connell said it’s good that there’s increased attention on the issue of sexual assault.

“It is a serious problem for our Corps and for the armed forces in general,” he said. “But another major point of the article was to demand that people use evidence when they make claims.  Politicians and news pundits alike speak of an ‘epidemic’ of military sexual assault, but they have no idea if there is more or less sexual assault in the military than there is in civilian society.  I think that’s irresponsible.” 


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  1. Zachary Davis on

    Sounds like this shill of an officer is following Amos’ Undue Command Influence strategy in pushing something as small as a video sing a long to a popular movie towards objectification and sexual assault.

    Because of this paper, he’ll probably get his full bird while making innocent Marines look bad.

  2. Diane A. Downing on

    This Officer is an embarrassment to the USMC. Those young men were enjoying themselves without any sexual meaning. He needs to have a doctor look at him. If he were under my command I would wash him out of the Service. Maybe he has something to hide.

  3. Reservists, what they do the other 28 days of the month. Write long winded essays about nothing and submitting them to obscure websites.

  4. I served in the Marine Corps back in 1994. As a woman serving amongst a majority of men…18, 19, 20, and 21 year old men for the most part…. I can tell you this video is nothing more than them literally “letting go”! Trust me, if they were thinking sexual thoughts their video clip would be X rated. Let’s also keep in mind that they just left home not that long ago and they grew up watching Disney! Please understand that from where I sit watching this video, it reminds me very much of some of the men I served with…gentle, tough, protective, funny, and loving Marines! The sexual spin is nothing more than a dirty old man looking for a promotion!

    However, the man does have a point when it comes to healthy sexual adult relationships. The Barracks is no place for that and that is why you see so many young Marines getting married too soon and moving off base. To me, that’s more of the issue!

  5. This idiot is of course assuming that the guys singing along with Disney are straight men. And assuming that all straight men are users and abusers of women. But even if they are straight and do lust after women, so what? There is free speech, and expression and nothing matters except how they treat women and girls and children and other men in real life.

  6. This is some bullshit. Really? This officer thinks these Marines are singing a simple Disney song and trying to frame them as lusting over a cartoon character?? What!? As being a 21 year old male Marine who in the school house watched dozens of movies with fellow Marines and just busted out singing lots of times watching Disney movies and others. Purely for the fun and that it was funny as hell watching grown men singing cute little kid songs .

  7. What a little bitch. He’s just a sad panda because he’s never been able to thread the needle with the Marines entrusted to his charge. One day he will sprout his pubes, his voice will drop, and eventually he might earn the respect of the men he leads.

  8. Doc Al Seguer on

    I think the Col. is a little over-analyzing the situation, he needs to try to understand younger Marines, no matter what sex they are.

  9. The problem I have read is ……..

    1. Seeing sexual content in a Disney movie.

    2. The overly charged, machismo responses .

    3. The disregard and disrespect for authority.

    Before anyone sets into me. Be respectful of a Marine’s Mom and a Naval Officer’s wife.

    Oh, you can call me Mam.

    Thank you

  10. We don’t want warriors in the Marines, we want Touchy Feely types that will ‘talk to the enemy, help them get in touch with their feelings’. Because we all know our enemies always are righteous and just want to be understood. Politically appointed Officers always bring down combat effectiveness of any unit, always have over the centuries.

  11. Trung Le Quang on

    We don’t want warriors in the Marines, we want Touchy Feely types that will ‘talk to the enemy, help them get in touch with their feelings’. Because we all know our enemies always are righteous and just want to be understood. Politically appointed Officers always bring down combat effectiveness of any unit, always have over the centuries.

  12. Let’s promote the LtCol to bird Colonel for his insight and court martial and throw these Marines out of the Corps. Sorry, Colonel, but if I met you in person I’d tell you straight up and down that you’re a complete a**hole. But you have towed CMC’s line; so good on ya and your advancing career.

    Steve Shea

    former Sgt., Vietnam veteran,

    and one who loved seeing these young Marines — who might be in harm’s way next month or next year — letting go in a healthy, fun way.

  13. That Lt. Col. makes no sense, I’ve seen grown Marines singing along to to EVERYTHING, whether it be “call me maybe”, “friday”, or “the lion king”. Oh, and Sean Hess, I’ll call you “m’am” when you become a commissioned officer. The fact that your husband is an officer does not make you an officer.

  14. dependa tricareatops on

    Sean Hess, a Marines mom and some officers wife? Sounds like you’re a civilian to me. Maybe do something with your life instead of trying to ride your husband rank.

  15. I loved the video! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had my husband’s Marines in my living room singing and watching movies with our kids. Even though I’m a spouse of a Gy our boys call me mama or mama bear not ma’am and before you as a civilian try to play your hubbys rank learn how to spell ma’am correctly

  16. Semper Fi 84-89 on

    OMFG. It’s a Disney clip. Maybe he should save his worthless comments for their reactions to the porn flick they might have watched before or after this.

  17. Everything you put on the web will have a good and bad effect. But being these are our marines. This is completely bullshit.This Marine officer is the only one who got a sexual thought of this video also only one who has a unhealthy sex conditions. These men are 18-22 years of age. singing along to a world wide song? And because they are gone for months/years with out intercourse does not mean they are taking Elisa as a sex object!

  18. Semper sometimes obviously doesn’t know how the actual Marine Corps works. Maybe the professor should teach a lesson on how not to be a complete waste of commission at the naval academy.

  19. Shaun Scott on

    This guy is an ass! My son is a marine and the fact that he enjoys this movie shows he still has a bit of fun and innocence within him! I think it shows the humanity that the guys have been able to maintain within themselves! Not EVERYTHING is about sex and violence!

  20. I call “No harm, No foul.” I’m a Marine Mom who raised her Marine with his brother and sister and cousins. This happens alot during Disney shows. Even before he became Marine! 🙂 Over thinking and Dissecting things can lead to a few misunderstandings.

  21. This guy, O’Connell, is way off base (no pun intended). My brother is in the “Marines singing Frozen” video and from the actual knowledge one gets from knowing someone personally, I can tell you, he is not some lust crazed predator.

    O’ Connell states, “[t]hat most of the Marines’ millions of online admirers confused lust with a love of sing-alongs is a comic misunderstanding.” What I find interesting is that O’Connell believes he can tell the true intent behind these brave young men from a two minute video. From a lifetime spent with my brother I can tell you he was raised to respect women and he would never treat a woman violently, but that he is known among friends and family to sing extremely off key from time to time to goof off.

    Is there something so wrong with young men going through rigorous training to “Let it Go,” by acting silly and singing a Disney song?

    When O’Connell states that the video “reveals just how unaware most Americans are of how their military prepares young people to do violence in defense of the nation.” I have two problems with this sentence:

    First off: Doesn’t he know he is talking about a military force? I don’t know about you, but I sure would like my Marines to act violently to protect our nation if need be. That’s what their training is for, right?

    Secondly: How does a video of young men singing “Let it Go” show Americans how the military prepares our forces for “violent protection?” Oh my goodness, really? Yes I can see Drill Sergeants everywhere screaming, “Sing and then drop and give me twenty!”

    This man is clearly not in support of these young men risking their lives for their country or actually raising awareness about sexual assault in or out of the military. The military may give a young man more knowledge about releasing violent behaviors in a proper setting but that does not correlate in any way to a man assaulting a woman. If a man assaults a woman that is on him and his flawed moral character, not the military planting a “violent” seed.

  22. I think all of you fine and respected vets and family of vets have missed the point of his essay, and have taken to attacking him as a person and his career. Just so you know just before he went to the Naval Academy he was in Afghanistan. This is an officer who has told it to people straight and thus has not be promoted so to say this was just for promotion is way off target. The point he was making is not directly about these marines, but about societies view of young marines. we see articles about heros or villains there is no in between, i challenge someone to find a normal story. His essay goes against the mainstream media attack that sexual assaults are out of control and the military as a whole is failing. I challenge you to look at it another way that maybe all the training and talk is working, that the total number of attacks has not changed but the number reported is steadily going up. I would count it has a win if by increased reports we start to fixi the problem.
    On a second note to reject the idea of sexuality in Disney movies is to be blind, how many stories have there been from drawings on the little mermaid cover to words in the dust in the lion king. Why does jasmine show her mid-section? Sex appeal has always been part of Disney movies.

  23. I think this Lieutenant Colonel is overreacting. I believe these young men are just having fun and blowing off steam. They are under a lot of pressure and it is nice to sit and relax sometimes. I have shown this video to a young man that I know who is headed into the Marines because he likes to joke around at home with his family. He stated that he can see himself doing this during downtime since they are under such pressure and routine so much of the time. I also have a brother-in-law who is just finishing his 30 years in the Marines. He is happily married, with 2 children and 1 grandson and another on the way. When he does not have to be in full Marine mode he is a really relaxed fun guy. I could see him doing this with his guys and I don’t think he would be looking at the characters as sex objects. I think people are reading to much into these guys blowing off steam and having a good time.

  24. As a former Marine NCO I would have to respectfully disagree with the Col.’s point of view. What this video is an example of is under paid, broke, bored Marines trying to pass time in the barracks. It’s really that simple.

    Semper Fi, Carry On…

  25. So many commenters saying the officer was way off base for saying the Marines were singing along because of reasons relating to sexual attraction. Most of these commenters probably didn’t see the video on the original Facebook post.

    The Marines themselves wrote that they were watching that part and erupted when they did because they felt that when she undid her hair it was the sexiest part. The Marines in question are the ones who said they viewed her as a sex object.

    Marines are human. Men and women in difficult and trying positions. They are going to have fun and be inappropriate when they are away from the eyes and ears of civilians. Dont underplay what Marines can make sexual when they are deployed or just in a group together. There is nothing in itself wrong with it– it’s a bunch of bored and lonely guys (USMC is what, 7% female?). But I’ve heard more than one conversation wondering how hot the high schoolers were who wrote letters to deployed troops. Marry, F, kill games. Etc. Stop treating us like cartoon heroes who can do no wrong and maybe the civ-mil divide can be reconciled a little.

  26. Some young marines having fun… Fun give me a break!!! That song is awesome and everyone sings it!!! I am married to a marine and have 2 daughters and they all sing it!! LET IT GO:-)

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