Brave Review: Breaking the Princess Stereotype by Dishonoring Fathers
A few months ago when we saw the first previews for Pixar’s latest movie Brave my girls and I were excited to finally see a heroine in a Pixar movie. My oldest daughter Anna loved the scene where the heroine Merida rips her dress to shoot an arrow. Anna doesn’t like princesses so she loved the idea of a princess standing up to what society wanted her to be (though my seven your old wouldn’t quite explain it that way).
Today we took the girls to see Brave and had a mixed experience of the film. We knew going into the film that it might have some scary moments involving a ferocious bear though we still decided to go. One of the girls started crying during one of the scariest scenes at the end while my other daughter watched the whole scene. So I would recommend that if your kids are the type that you have to fast forward scary scenes in movies, don’t take them to see it in the theaters. Wait until it comes out on DVD. It’s not worth the nightmares that will follow (I kind of feel like a bad dad for taking them….)
That said, I loved the overall conflict and resolution of the movie. Merida and her mother the queen are in constant conflict as Merida wants to determine her own fate and fight the princess stereotype. I won’t give up the twist in the movie or the ending but it is a great story of a mother and daughter learning to listen to each other. It is an excellent movie for mothers and daughters to experience together and discuss afterwards. Even the short film at the beginning is an excellent portrayal of what generations can learn from each other.
Just as in The Hunger Games I love movies that feature a strong heroine that stands up to stereotypes of women. On a side note, I would put my money on Merida in the Hunger Games over Katniss. Merida is a master with the bow and arrow WHILE riding a horse. She can also scale massive rocks. But that’s another discussion….
As a father of daughters, I want my girls to see that they don’t have to be held back by society’s stereotypes of what a women should be like. I want them to become who God made them to be. Brave does a great job of portraying the fact that girls and ultimately women should be able to become who they were created to be.
I was disappointed though by how men were portrayed in the movie. Merida’s father Fergus was portrayed as a bumbling brute who feared his wife. It was very apparent that the queen ruled the kingdom in Brave. Why is it that to bring women into the spotlight, we feel like we have to portray men as weak? I for one think that we can honor women and give them all the rights and responsibilities of men without making men look like cowards and idiots on screen. There were brief moments when Fergus played the honorable role of empowering his daughter but then he went back to being the dumb dad. As a father who wants to empower his daughters, I was disappointed by this stereotyping of men.
Overall, I liked Brave and the presenting of Merida as a strong a female heroine. I loved the theme of listening to our kids and empowering them to make their own decisions. But sadly the writers at Pixar broke the princess stereotype at the expense of dishonoring the role of fathers.
***Side note: Apple fans will love that one of the clans in the movie is named Macintosh and that Steve Jobs is honored in the credits with the mystical blue will-o’-the-wisps hovering around a special dedication to the father of Pixar