I’m what you’d call a die-hard Pixar fan. I have almost all the movies (including the DVD-collection of short films) and amuse myself hunting down the Pizza Planet truck and beach ball from Toy Story in the other films as well as playing ‘spot the character voiced by John Ratzenberger’.
I was very excited about Brave. With all the hype that was generated on Facebook and the previews made available online, how could you not be? As it were, I was a bit disappointed in the film. It was a beautiful story, to be sure, but the previews had led me to expect something more.
But Merida…oh, Merida. Probably that’s why the movie disappointed me: Merida is the kind of character that could kick Frodo’s backside if it comes to an epic quest. Here’s a girl whom I’ll gladly employ to save the world. I still get goosebumps if I only think of that archery contest scene. She is brave, reckless strong-willed and passionate. Beside that, she is a real girl, who argues with her mom and kid brothers, who wants to run and shoot her bow rather than act like a lady and who can wrap her father around her little finger with minimal effort (very much like Arya from GoT, come to think of it). She is the type of female protagonist I hope to be able to write one day. I think I believed her story should be much bigger that the one that was told.
Now, apparently, Disney has decided that Merida is not ‘pretty’ enough to be a Disney Princess and has given her a makeover, to the general dismay of millions of fans including, and justly so, of Merida’s creator. Gone is the quiver full of arrow to be replaced with a pretty sash. Suddenly her face is all made-up and I’m sure they changed the shape as well. And you’ll definitely not be able to go bear-hunting in that dress.
Many have written much more eloquently than I ever could on the message this sends to girls out there. Here and here are two posts you can check out on the subject (and while you’re on change.org, take ten seconds to sign the petition to try and stop this). I’m not simply going to repeat what others have already said. That does not mean I think their opinions unimportant; to the contrary, I agree wholeheartedly.
Looking at it more from a writer’s point of view I want to add another thing that’s wrong with this: they are ruining a remarkable character in the process. Merida is as real a character as a writer can hope to achieve. She is well-rounded, she’s believable, and we can see her grow and change through the course of the story. To take a character like this and change her into just another stereotype is an injustice to the art of storytelling and an outright insult to her creator. Knowing how much work goes into creating a character and knowing how attached one gets to them, this really bothers me, aside from all the other reasons why this is wrong.
So, spread the word, sign the petition. Don’t let Merida turn into another simpering princess. Help keep Merida brave.