Merida and the Bechtel test

January 19th, 2013

The thing that most resonated about this talk was Colin Stokes’s defense of a particular Disney Princess: Merida, from Pixar’s Brave. I wrote a disappointed rant about that movie when it came out.

I still deeply dislike the “You are a princess, act like it!” storyline. I find it offensive, lazy and boring for Disney to recycle it. I find it even more disappointing that creative powerhouse Pixar would resort to it…I love Pixar. It hurts.

The more empowering heroines are not princesses, but normal, or even disadvantaged, and overcome their weakness. I prefer Hermione over Eowyn, even though Eowyn is a warrior princess and Hermione a nerdy schoolkid, or perhaps because of it. Satsuki and Mei from “My Neighbor Totoro” are an excellent example of normal girls whose story is worthy of the big screen. Even Disney has Lilo, from “Lilo and Stitch” as an example of a normal girl becoming a heroine.

I realize that I was a bit unfair to Pixar. Merida’s courage and intelligence led her to humility and leadership. The way she repaired her relationships with her mother, brother, and even her subjects is true heroism. Her mother’s insistence on proper behavior is probably accurate to what real-life princesses (Elizabeth II of England?) may have to live with.

But why the princess fixation?. Is that the most interesting story that Pixar can tell with a girl as a protagonist?

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