With my struggle in teaching my daughter female empowerment amidst her Disney daydreams, I was intrigued by Brave’s hype.
It would be nice to see a girl character as something other than a princess, but it’s a big step and a princess can still be cool, like The Paper Bag Princess.
Brave is set in a fairytale Scotland. Unlike other Disney princesses, Merida lives with both parents. Like any teenager, she argues with her mother, but no “wicked step-mother” thing is going on here. It’s refreshing to see females not pitted against one another in a movie, Disney or not.
Queen Elinor would like her daughter to go through with a traditional arranged marriage to prevent a war amongst the country’s tribes. Merida wants to choose her own destiny and has no love interest at all. Merida pays a witch to change Queen Elinor, resulting in the queen becoming a bear. The witch wasn’t evil; she was “just doing her job.” It wasn’t the tired witch jealous of princess’s beauty storyline. Brave’s story was that of the evolution between a mother and her daughter.
Merida’s physical features were not mentioned, in one scene she pulls a strand of hair out to make herself look less perfect in front of her potential suitors, but that’s it. She wasn’t the “fairest” (AKA whitest) of them all or ugly to prove that real beauty is on the inside.
**Side note: I’m not sure if red hair means defying, or since it’s uncommon it’s relatable to the majority. Scotland has the highest percentage of natural redheads to be fair. It is disappointing that Pixar Wiki compares Merida to Ariel, a mermaid who traded her identity for a prince.( A discussion forum about red headed heroines in romance novels.) Enough about the locks, that’s not at all what this movie is about**
Brave isn’t about being better than the boys, so all those who get feminism and man hating confused can calm the eff down.
When Merida won an archery competition in an attempt to win her own hand in marriage, she won fair and square. She wasn’t better because she was female; she was better because she was a stronger athlete. Towards the end, she had to sew something back together. I was worried when the time came Merida wouldn’t be able to do it because she was “too much like one of the guys.” But she proved to be a Jill of all trades.
As for the boys, though were encouraged by their fathers to be tough and manly enough to marry the princess, they admitted to also wanting to choose their future.
In the writing for children class I took the instructor said marketing research shows that a girl will read about a male or female hero, while a boy will only read about a male hero. Brave can appeal to both sexes and hopefully will inspire more tales to come where gender is not the main focus. I’m relieved P and I can agree that, finally, a Disney princess is pretty cool.
Pixar Animation Studios’s thirteenth animated feature film has come a long way with the newest princess. Will Brave be part of that brand? Or will she be hanging out with Pocahontas and Mulan instead of Snow White, Aurora, Belle and Ariel. (Jasmine makes an occasional appearance).
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