Yet another Disney film that features a total of zero people of color.
The really awesome thing about Brave is that it is a movie that is dedicated to the growth of a mother-daughter relationship. At the end, I definitely felt like giving my ma a call and seeing how things were going. This intergenerational relationship is the center of the film, and it’s a nice deviation from finding a true love. The lack of romantic motivation is refreshing.
Brave is really unique in a film in the sense that Merida is a princess that wants nothing to do with the realm of love. In an archery contest for her hand in marriage, Merida enters in disguise and then wins with triumph. But being a princess, her primary concerns were still princess-like (what to wear, feminine skill training, getting married, etc). Merida is a rebellious tomboy, which is a lot of fun, but she was shoved into the cookie-cutter role of a princess and it just isn’t a place that fits her.
Merida is a warrior, like Mulan. She believes she is not burdened by gender roles nor should she have to adhere to them. Her mother, however, thought differently, and through a course of events, Merida’s mother, Elinor, is transformed into a bear. Instantly filled with regret, Merida discovers she must mend the tapestry of the family that she tore in a tantrum to break the spell before it comes permanent.
Now why would our brave (no pun intended) warrior have to save her people, herself, and her mother with a traditionally feminine skill? Was this just another part of being forced into the princess trope? Or did Merida overcome something that was difficult for her, as she was not that great at needlework to begin with (and the needlework completed by her is shabby anyway)?
This is a cute video created by YouTube user AVByte that criticizes Disney’s princess stereotype. The princesses featured in the video (Jasmine, Ariel, Aurora, Cinderella, Snow White, Belle) are lectured by Queen Elsa on their refusal to critically think about their story lines. Princesses such as Pocahontas, Mulan, and Merida are omitted, perhaps because their story line does not revolve around finding love but on other factors and AVByte’s criticism might not have held up.
This video exposes many of the problems that are prevalent within the older princess films. While progress has been made with films such as Frozen and Brave, old princess tropes are still prevalent and surround our young girls. Even though Snow White and Cinderella are older films, I grew up watching them and even though I am now in my twenties I still see young girls enjoying them. The presence of criticism such as this cutesy YouTube clip is uplifting, however, because videos such as this can spur discussion among mothers and their daughters about what being a girl and a woman means. And even newer Disney princess films such Tangled fall under this trope, with Rapunzel being saved from Mother Gothel by Flynn Rider and never given the chance to grow outside of someone else.
Girls need to recognize that they need to develop as themselves first, then worry about falling in love. Love is an incredible human emotion and should be experienced by everyone one way or another, either between siblings such as in Frozen, family such as in Brave, between friends, or between those in a consensual relationship. Dialogue such as this video needs to exist to bring light to the fact that men are not the be all and end all. While these older stories may center around the woman character, the real story is about finding and keeping a man. So are the stereotypical Disney princess movies really about women? ‘Cause it really seems to revolve around men.