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Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States
Hello, and welcome to my blog! I like to write about children's literature, fairy tales, feminism, and pop culture in general. I've recently earned my Ph.D. in children's literature at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I also review children's and young adult books for Kirkus and teach English at Sowela Technical Community College. Oh, and I like cats! [Banner image artwork by Yuki Midorikawa]

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pixar's Brave and the Fear of Romance

New information just released about Pixar's latest, BRAVE: it seems the movie's heroine, Merida, won't be going the way of the Disney Princess.

An article at TIME tells us that "This is a fairy tale without romance."  Instead, the focus of the narrative will be on Merida's desire for adventure in favor of romance.  While her mother wants to keep up the tradition of having Merida marry a prince, Merida isn't listening.  The article insists that this is more a story about a girl defying her mother, something to which all teenage girls should be able to relate.

(Wait -- where have I seen that before?)

Ready for adventure -- no man required.

Pixar seems almost gleeful about revealing this.  I'm fine with a girl not needing romance in her adventure.  I mean, boys can have adventures without romance, right?  Well, there was Dreamworks' HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON.  A boy, his dragon, an adventure.  And a little bit of romance.  Well, and there was Pixar's own WALL-E.  A (boy) robot, a spaceship, an adventure.  Oh and a (girl) robot he has a massive crush on.  

Not romantic AT ALL.

Does removing romance from a girl's narrative like BRAVE suggest that girls must eschew romance in order to "go on adventures" and be "just like the boys"?  Can't a strong girl save the day and get the boy, too?

Small wonder why Pixar seem so proud of themselves.  The revulsion many contemporary mothers, grandmothers, and aunts feel towards the Disney Princesses is finally beginning to have an impact on the market.  Even Disney itself has promised to stop making fairy tale films.  (Presumably, "romance" and "fairy tale" go hand in hand for Disney.)

What do you think?  Is the film sending girls the wrong message?  Isn't desire a part of growing up?  Can girls really not have their cake—and eat it, too? 

2 comments:

  1. Also, if they're trying to go for gender equality in making a strong female lead, my question is: Why are there(of the 'main' characters listed on their website) 10 male characters and 2 female ones (not counting the horse, which they probably made male if it's anything at all).

    Maybe they'll get the romance thing down, given time, and maybe someday we'll even finally see true gender equality (not even going into race right now) in American movies. Until then, at least we can try to raise awareness so people realize they're living in a world where media is male-dominant. So many people don't even notice...

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  2. Excellent point! Well, the film's not out yet, but I seriously doubt we will discover that Merida has a half dozen female friends to fill out the cast.

    And yes, gender, race, and I'll add sexuality. Yup, so many people are unaware or unwilling to admit that the media is often male-dominant. Shannon Hale posted about this on her blog and I swear, half her readers were up in arms over it.

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