Brave came out in 2012 and with it came a feisty, independent, and adventurous young lady, Merida. Peter Debruge of Variety gave a positive review of the film, remarking that the film “offers a tougher, more self-reliant heroine for an era in which princes aren’t so charming, set in a sumptuously detailed Scottish environment where her spirit blazes bright as her fiery red hair.” Debruge also said that “Adding a female director [Brenda Chapman] to its creative boys’ club, the studio [Pixar] has fashioned a resonant tribute to mother-daughter relationships that packs a level of poignancy on par with such beloved male-bonding classics as Finding Nemo.” Yet despite this, there were also others who despaired at her not having a love interest and remarking that she may have been lesbian. Why is it that when Disney finally releases a super cool, super strong female character, people are quick to say: “woah! She is not normal!”? This shows the strength discourse has in embedding truth and knowledge and how difficult it is to create counter-discourses.
But when I saw the movie I was very excited for Merida because she was her own person and decided not to conform to what her mother expected of her and ended up changing tradition itself. If that’s not impressive, then I don’t know what is. Here is a pretty badass scene of Merida fighting her father. She is a far cry from the helplessly domesticated Snow White!
Though my focus was on women in Disney, I did notice that male stereotypes were still very prevalent. Most scenes of Merida’s father are of him fighting or telling stories about how he fought a bear and lost his leg to it. It seems that he has a passive role in how his daughter is to be raises, leaving Merida’s mother, Elinor to effectively teach and raise her on her own. I thought this was interesting because now Disney may have to continue working on their female characters and begin to question the traditional roles of men.