Even if you've only seen the trailers for BRAVE, you know that its heroine Merida wants one thing: to determine her own fate. Put another way, she wants everyone--particularly her mother--to stop telling her what to do.
That's the one thing that disappointed me about this film. Merida didn't have enough to fight for.
On the surface it seems there's plenty. She's fighting for her destiny. She's fighting to help her mother overcome an epic bout of magical consequences. She's eventually fighting to keep the kingdom in one piece.
But who cares? For what? Merida, if someone caved to your pouting and foot-stomping and said "sure, go on, choose your destiny"... what would you do?
As far as I can tell, she'd simply dash off to spend her days riding her horse, shooting arrows, and climbing rocks. In other words, she'd simply please herself. Even Pixar pokes fun at this in the film. Her father pretends to be her, saying in a falsetto, "I don't want to get married. I want to stay single and let my hair flow in the wind as I ride through the glen, firing arrows into the sunset." (Watch the clip at bottom of this post)
Not much of a heroine after all, I'd say. Shouldn't girls want more than selfish satisfaction? Shouldn't they want to better the world? Or at least better themselves beyond being able to hit the bullseye from 50 yards off?
I worry that our culture perpetuates a sort of entitled-brat attitude in girls these days: that our daughters deserve to get what they want, when they want it simply because they are girls. And nobody can tell girls these days what to do or what to want. They're in charge.
Believe me, you can't get much more feminist that me. I told my fifth grade teacher to address me as Ms, not Miss, and it hasn't stopped from there. I'm proud to live in a day when we can stand up and demand our rights, and not be locked up for it. Alice Paul was jailed for that less than a hundred years ago.
I don't think Alice was fighting for bratty entitlement when she went on hunger strike (see below). And she sure would have urged Merida to think bigger. Like archery? Perhaps you'd like to lead your army in defending Scotland from those shadowy sea invaders you referred to for all of two seconds. Or perhaps you'd like to teach your people how to be good stewards of the land, be the kingdom's first Chief Environmentalist. Or heck, Merida, remember that bunch of castle ruins you found?
Ever think of starting your own clan, Merida?
Nah. You were too busy whining.
Papa says it best:
And a reminder of what it's like when women fight for something bigger than their own selfish aims (warning, there is a graphic scene of Alice Paul being force-fed):