They may as well have named the movie "Strong Independent Girl." Apparently because Disney hasn't done enough damage to the intellectual development of three generations of American women, Pixar is introducing its much-ballyhooed first female lead, the princess Merinda, whom we are reliably informed is "more interested in archery and independence than in marrying and fulfilling royal traditions as dictated by her mother." How innovative, how subversive, how not exactly the same as every other movie and television commercial produced in the last 20 years.
In a gushing and inadvertently hilarious profile by the New York Times, we learn that the character and story were developed by a woman – quelle surprise – that she has fatter legs than the average Disney princess, (but they hide them under a dress so that girls will still want to be like her), and that the producers spent a remarkable time agonizing about her hair and precisely how curly it should be. Her hair, you see, is wild and scraggly, which is intended to be a graphic representation of her fierceness and independent spirit.
In other words, Pixar's ambition is for "Brave" to be the little girl's version of "Sex in the City." One wonders if Merinda's voice will be provided by Sarah Jessica Parker.
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Apparently Hollywood's arbiters of social mores are no longer content to render the concept of female strength and independence a literal joke, and are now intent on destroying the ability of men to view the concept of female bravery with a straight face. Will Merinda boldly go where no woman has gone before and slay a spider? Will she courageously tell a village of disapproving women that she has no interest in taking out student loans in order to spend five years chasing alpha males and ending up with nothing but debt, Chlamydia, genital warts and a useless sociology degree? Will she have the guts – no, will she have the testicular fortitude – to tell her mother that she sees no point in spending the next five years sitting in a soul-killing, gray-paneled cubicle, but would rather get married and stay home to raise her children?
Somehow, I doubt it.
Now, I am confident that Pixar will manage to make the story entertaining. The creative talent at Pixar is very, very good at what they do. But what they appear to be doing here is more than entertainment, it is also cultural propaganda. Since the movie hasn't come out yet, it's impossible to say whether the propaganda is as straightforward as the New York Times article makes it look to be, or if it is actually a subversion and the title is a deceptive one masking a story where the strong and brave independent girl learns the error of her ways and the value of tradition.
The potential problem is that just as the Disney movies encouraged multiple generations of young girls to think of themselves as princesses who intrinsically merited the loving devotion of a rich and handsome prince without having to so much as lift a finger, "Brave" appears to be based on the idea that young girls should pattern their behavior on male virtues rather than female ones and reject the advice of the many generations of women who have gone before them. The movie "Tangled" also echoed this theme, although in that movie, the heroine's defiance of her mother was cleverly justified by the fact that her mother was not actually her mother, but rather, her kidnapper.
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We shall have to wait and see if "Brave" is as culturally poisonous as the New York Times' enthusiasm would suggest it to be before pronouncing judgment on it. I tend to doubt Pixar is so financially suicidal that the movie will feature Princess Merinda personally defeating the anti-bailout villain in hand-to-hand combat, before rejecting the handsome Scottish prince in favor of a lesbian union with a shaven-headed Nubian banker girl whose parents are recent immigrants to Scotland. Presumably that movie would end with a touching scene in which the brave Merinda assists her Alzheimer's-stricken royal mother to commit suicide before learning that her lesbian lover is pregnant with the sperm donated by her rejected princely suitor. But perhaps Pixar, like Princess Merinda, is truly that brave.
I originally intended to write about today's Greek vote and its implications for the ongoing global economic catastrophe. But after reading about the "Evolution of a Feisty Pixar Princess," I find it impossible not to root for the catastrophe. Some societies are simply too stupid and shortsighted to survive.