Thursday, June 28, 2012

Things I Love: One Disney Princess

Two years ago this August I wrote one of my most looked at blog pieces on Disney Princesses (<--Click here if for no other reason than to read some of the comments.  Hysterical.  Especially the one telling me to turn off comments if I don't want them ... clearly that person doesn't understand reverse psychology!  And of course there's the comment that says something to the effect of "people with stupid facts ruin everything."  I'm pretty sure that comment is from a politician. Good logic, that one!).

In me previous Disney Princess post, I talk about my issues with the princess movies.

  • Princess either have no mom or a messed up relationship with their mom.
  • Princesses are weak and must be in the care of a man.
  • While princesses have amazing character qualities and talents, it is their physical beauty that gets the man--not the heart underneath.
  • Princess movies perpetuate cultural myths and are historically inaccurate
  • Princess movies can be super scary
Of course my daughter is slowly seeing these movies and we are talking about the stuff that bothers her and the stuff that bothers me (BTW--I never advocate not to watch them so don't get all bristly on me).  What's really funny is so far, she doesn't like most of the princesses.  And by most, I mean she only likes Rapunzel from Tangled.  She has not asked to see any of the other shows for a second time.  

Until now.

Now my daughter and I agree on one princess.  Merida (the star of BRAVE).

Photo from FilmFilia

We took our kids to see Brave and although there was still some scary magic stuff and some freaky bear scenes, I found the movie to be quaint and charming.

Did it perpetuate cultural stereotypes of pre-Christian Scotland being filled with dark, blood-thirsty, drunken men in kilts?  You betcha.  What do you expect?  It's Disney.

Was it filled with humor and great graphics? You betcha.  What do you expect?  It's Pixar.

Unlike other shows, though, I loved, loved, loved Merida.

Here's why I finally love a Disney Princess (and a princess movie):

  • Merida wears a dress but she is not overly girly.  She likes to run and be wild and do archery.  She's almost like a real girl, like my daughter, who can go from make up to mud in under thirty seconds.  Finally a movie that shows the fullness of gender roles (and how they can be crossed).
  • Merida has good and bad characteristics.  Unlike other princesses who are "always good", Merida is disobedient, sneaky, and selfish.  I love that she has some rust on her and that kids get to see the consequences of negative behaviors.
  • Merida has good characteristics.  Above and beyond being kind to animals and being a good singer (like most princesses), Merida is brave, loyal to her family, doting on her brothers. She's not afraid to apologize and try to make amends.
  • Merida has a mother.  YAY for mothers and daughters!  Yes, a girl ought to have the love of a father but she also should have the love of a mother (most Disney princesses have no mother relationship). Is Merida's mother a bit overbearing?  Yep.  Do they struggle? Yep.  Does her mother love her to the point of doing anything to protect her, even to change for her daughter?  Yep.  Finally, a Disney mother-daughter relationship that isn't sick and twisted.
  • Merida is girl next door pretty. She isn't flawless.  She isn't the skinniest girl on the block.  She doesn't have every hair in place or lipstick on her lips. She is alive and vivid (for a cartoon, that is).  Somehow not being drop dead gorgeous makes her so ... appealing.
  • Merida doesn't need the Prince.  Sure boys are vying for her hand, political alliances and all, but Merida is more concerned with her family and finding her path than being defined by love and a man.  Sure I hope she ends up with the right guy but I hope that doesn't happen until the right time.  In the meantime, I'm content with her strengthening her relationship with her mom, dad, and brothers.
Yes. It's true.  I finally love a Disney Princess.  I'll own this show and I'll watch it over and over again with my kiddos. 

**If you haven't seen Brave yet, then I encourage you to read the movie review by Plugged in (click that link).  There are some scary scenes in the show and, depending on your level of comfort, some themes might not be suitable for your children.**

3 comments:

  1. I keep forgetting to ask you how the movie was - glad to know it's a good one! I'm excited to see it...though Lil has a date to watch it in the theater again with Khale soon but I might try to crash the party. :)

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  2. As a mother of two daughters, one 5 and the other 22, I loved the movie. Took my 22 year old to it for her birthday, and we held hands and cried all the way through. My 5 year old is much like Merida, but then again, I think a majority of real girls are! I was so glad to FINALLY see a girl (sorry she was a princess/powerful/rich) whose tale was not all about the boy who saves her/marries her, etc. And here's why. Conversation with our younger daughter when she was four: GIRL - "I am a Princess!" DAD - "What do Princesses do?" GIRL - "They get married!" MOM - boring long diatribe about ruling classes and power and govt...yeah, that didn't work.

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