Monday, July 16, 2012

Brave (Part 1)

I finally got around to seeing Brave, the latest Pixar movie.

I've been a bit hesitant to see the movie, based on the reviews.  Every review I saw spent at least two paragraphs, insulting every Disney princess in existence.  This led to the conclusion that Brave is a must-see film, because Princess Merida is a new, better kind of princess.  She's a majestic feminist role model who rebels against the oppressive patriarchy, by using her unique talents to achieve her goals!

These reviews made me feel offended, on behalf of all the previous Disney princesses.  Personally, I always thought that Sleeping Beauty was a great feminist role model who uses her unique talents to achieve her goals.  It's just that she doesn't have any talents besides sleeping.  It's not her fault.  Blame the fairies who gave her a bad set of talents at the start of the movie.

Okay, I'll admit that some Disney princesses are two-dimensional characters, whose only purpose is to look pretty and be saved by the prince.  But on the other hand, I don't think it's an intentional attempt put down women, because the Disney princes are equally two-dimensional.  They're mostly just pretty boys whose only purpose in life is to find the perfect girl to fall in love with.  Occasionally, they fight witches to relieve the boredom of constantly styling their hair, but all in all, they're a boring lot.

In any case, the movie reviews for Brave made me hesitant about seeing the movie, because they painted Princess Merida as a reactionary feminist figure, taken to the extreme of "she must be a perfect role model for little girls in every way, shape and form".  I'm all for good role models, but from a storytelling standpoint, characters without any flaws at all are just plain boring.  Audiences don't relate to those characters, except from the position of wish-fulfilment.

As for me, I try not to judge characters, solely from a feminist perspective.  Take Nancy Drew, for example.  I happen to like her, in case that's not obvious.  It doesn't bother me whether or not Nancy does something that's stereotypically girly, like making clothes in Danger by Design, or if she's doing something that's stereotypically boyish, like useing a lathe in The Haunted Carousel.  I like Nancy for more reasons than just her ability (or lack thereof) to stand as a suitable role model.

So, all the review for Brave had me worried, because they almost exclusively focus on feminism.  I'd prefer it if they focused more on the movie.

Not that I'm doing a good job of focusing on the movie.  I'm what, eight paragraphs into my review?  And I haven't even started talking about the movie yet?  Jeez, talk about bad role models.  Instead of reviewing the movie, I've reviewed the reviews of the movie.

Eh...I'll try writing a review of the movie tomorrow, then.


Bella Cullen said...

You're a great role model and your review about reviews was funny.

Flashman85 said...

I've never heard of a Disney or a Pixar movie receiving so much bad press, and I feel like it's been primarily fueled by thoughts like, "Every Pixar move has to be AMAZING, and this one was simply GOOD, therefore it's awful."

My wife and I watched it. We enjoyed it. It was funny at times, heartfelt at others, and visually interesting throughout.

Justice said...

I haven't seen Brave, but I wouldn't mind doing so. It sounds like one of the better films of the year from the reviews I've read (which were obviously more favorable ones than you did :P). As for these people judging it from a 'feminist role model' perspective, I'd suppose that sort of response is to be expected. Our society has taken the idea of 'girl power' to extremes, and thus will attack anything that falls short of their ideal. They're expecting the wrong things. Don't misinterpret - I don't like the idea of being a damsel-in-distress doormat any more than most females, but this 'trying to match and dominate men in everything' spirit is not good. To me, true feminism is retaining your womanhood and thriving within the bounds of it, not being out to 'prove yourself'.

Anyway, thanks for yet another interesting blog post, Michael. Please excuse my rambling. :)

Miriam said...

I saw Brave at the drive-in theater with a couple of friends. I loved it, but I didn't even think of feminism or anything.
Honestly, I don't give a flying squirrel if girls in movies are tomboys or girly or useless or whatever. Some girls are useless, some are skilled, but it depends on the person. Bah. I sort of wish people would give up on trying to find lessons in movies and just enjoy the entertainment. -_-

Emily said...

I haven't seen Brave, but my brother said it was cute. Well, I asked him if it was cute, and he said yes. My favorite Disney "Princess" was always Mulan. I think she's a good role model.