Brave: A New Kind of Cartoon Heroine?

I’m a Pixar Fan (and, like everyone else, I was disappointed with Cars 2) – not only because their animation is gorgeous, but because they tell real, heartfelt stories that make your heart soar. I cried with Carl when Ellie died in Up, when Andy gave his toys to Bonnie in Toy Story 3, when Wall-E held hands with Eva -  you get the idea. But the one thing I didn’t love was that it was constantly male heroes and lead characters – while Pixar never had a real red-flag-worthy portrayal of a woman, their heroes were constantly male – Flick, Buzz, Woody, Andy, Carl, Russell, Wall-E, Lightning McQueen – all dudes.

So when I heard that Pixar was coming out with a film in Summer 2012 that had a female lead, I became antsy with anticipation – will they do girls justice? Will I be happy with this or write a blog of disappointment? And when the trailer came out this week, I was on the edge of my seat…

And from what I can tell so far, it’s going to be great. Here’s why:

  • She is presented as a thing of legends, important in her own right – so often, girls in fairy tales or epic adventures feel that they are just a nobody at first (Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Mulan) – but she is presented as important right off the bat.
  • She is synonymous with the word “brave” – something girls usually aren’t synonymous with. Yay!
  • Her hair is down and flowing, but not polished and primped – in order to be strong and courageous, she doesn’t need to be masculine or hide her femininity, but she also doesn’t need to primp herself in order to be a girl and important female figure.
  • She is alone – no chaperones, no companions – just herself. Too often in fairy tales, the girls and women involved get there thanks to an older woman who they turn to for guidance or a man. Pocahontas has Grandmother Willow, Mulan relies on the Cricket and Dragon, Cinderella on her fairy godmother, Rapunzel on her rescuer, Snow White on the 7 Dwarves, etcetera. Instead, this is her adventure- and nobody else’s.

Even the Synopsis has me twiddling with excitement (from the official website):

Since ancient times, stories of epic battles and mystical legends have been passed through the generations across the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland. In “Brave,” a new tale joins the lore when the courageous Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald) confronts tradition, destiny and the fiercest of beasts.
Merida is a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.

She makes mistakes, but hopes to fix them herself with her skills (Archery) and her determination to be her own person. I’m SUPER pumped for what seems like it’ll be such an amazing strong female figure for girls (and women)!

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About beckawall

Recent AU Alumni, feminist, master of nutella brownies. Lover of JFK, politics, analyzing popular culture, and general nerdery.

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