Disney and Brave

On a recent plane ride, I was bumped up to the Economy Comfort section, which meant a little extra cushion on the head rest, a little more of the coveted leg room, and free movies or tv.

Knowing that sound on planes leaves something to be desired, I opted for a lighter movie: Disney’s Brave.

Princess Merida - Disney's Brave

I would give it a solid “meh.” There we’re aspects of it I liked, and aspects that either didn’t work and some things that frustrated me.

Things I liked:

  • the movie wasn’t just about a Princess growing up and automatically falling in love. I appreciate that. Girls can do other things.
  • both parents were alive. Unusual for Disney princesses.
  • the central relationship was the mother-daughter relationship. Since the mother is usually not alive for the story, this was a pleasant change.

Things I didn’t like:

  • the pacing was sometimes a little labored. Maybe it’s that I’m not 8, but I got tired of watching them race around the castle after a few minutes.
  • the 3 little brothers. I think they were supposed to be funny, but again, I’m not 8, so it wasn’t as effective for me.

The main I didn’t like:

  • the portrayal of men

And now, the soapbox:

What really bothered me was thinking the reason Princess Merida didn’t want to get married was that all her options were oafish males who were more interested in hitting each other over the head than…pretty much anything else. I think it’s great to see a story about a girl who isn’t just interested in finding true love, but it would have been more interesting to me to hear her saying, “these guys are nice, but I’m just not interested in them.” In this movie, the guys gave her no reason to be interested in them. In fact, you’re relieved she isn’t settling for the stupid one or the vain one or…the third one. I forget why he was objectionable, but clearly, he didn’t have much going for him.

Even Merida’s father, who loves and cares for his daughter, is a little slow and clueless–all the thinking is done by his wife. He is a giant fighter who is easily distracted by weapons and ready to pick a fight at a moment’s notice. His wife does all the planning and I think the only reason he was made king is that every other male is equally interested in fighting, so his prowess made him a good choice. And his wife probably convinced all the other wives that it would be a good idea.

I know the story was trying to tell girls that other interests matter, and that you should listen to your mother occasionally, but what does this tell boys who sit through this movie with their sisters? I know many men who are intelligent, kind, and not easily provoked into hitting each other over the head (well, maybe if they’re age 3 they might be more prone to hitting; but I’m talking about adults here). By all means, tell us about princesses who find other things to do with their time (and the princesses who get married need to do something once they’ve found a prince), but we do not have to tell those stories at the expense of men.