I’ll be the first to say it: I love Disney.
I grew up watching the movies, making up dances to the songs, and when I passed my driver’s test last week, I made a Disney playlist on my iTunes in celebration.
Disney represents dreams, believing, magic, love, adventure, overcoming obstacles, and doing what’s right. Great features right? Except that the last three pertain mainly to the male Disney leads. In fact, when I think about my favourite Disney movies it’s a two-way tie between Aladdin and Mulan. Followed closely by Beauty and the Beast and Hercules. Aladdin has all the fun, Mulan completely breaks the mold, Belle is smart and tough (but the real shining star of that movie is Lumiere) and Hercules sacrifices all to do what’s right.
Mom told me that when I was 9 months old she would plunk me in front of The Jungle Book and I’d sit quietly and watch it three times over. A few years later at daycare, when all the other girls wanted to be princesses for Halloween, I asked Mom to make me a Peter Pan costume. I mean Cinderella’s great but Peter… he can fly. No contest.
Though there are obvious exceptions, the male leads in Disney movies and Pixar for that matter, get adventure, they’re comedic, resourceful, and almost always have more fun. Bottom line, they just have better stories.
In 2012 Disney Pixar came out with Brave, a story about a rambunctious young Scottish princess and her relationship with her mother. Brave is awesome for several reasons the first being that Princess Merida is the first female lead in a Pixar movie. Merida is strong, independent, adventurous, and like Mulan, breaks the mold of her Disney predecessors. And it’s a love story between a mother and a daughter rather than the tired romantic one. Many thanks Pixar!
Merida is an original character so it’s only fitting that on May 11, 2013, she was inducted as Disney’s 11th princess at the Magic Kingdom at Disney World. EXCEPT. Disney went and redesigned Merida to look like the other princess merchandise. Here’s the new Merida:
Frankly I’m disgusted. I mean, really Disney?? You put Merida in that dress (which she hated), tamed her wild curls, added bigger hips (she’s a child so I don’t know how, biologically, she ended up with those), and doused her in glitter. AND THEN, you had the indecency to take away her bow?? I don’t often say this but… I’m in a rage!! This is the maddest I’ve ever been (at Disney)!
Why? Why would you do this? So she’ll sell better? ‘Scuse me Disney executives but Merida is already a beloved character. You did not need to Barbie-fy her.
Changing Merida sends the message to all those young girls who love her that they should change too. And that’s complete and utter rubbish. Girls already have enough self-esteem issues and this just adds to that false idea of perfection. The original Merida is a real person with real features. You don’t need to glamour her up because her personality’s already done that for you.
Hypable.com reported on this event yesterday and have a quote from writer and co-director Brenda Chapman:
“There is an irresponsibility to this decision that is appalling for women and young girls,” she said. “Disney marketing and the powers that be that allow them to do such things should be ashamed of themselves.”
“I think it’s atrocious what they have done to Merida,” she added. “When little girls say they like it because it’s more sparkly, that’s all fine and good but, subconsciously, they are soaking in the sexy ‘come hither’ look and the skinny aspect of the new version. It’s horrible! Merida was created to break that mold — to give young girls a better, stronger role model, a more attainable role model, something of substance, not just a pretty face that waits around for romance.”
Chapman adds, “They have been handed an opportunity on a silver platter to give their consumers something of more substance and quality — THAT WILL STILL SELL — and they have a total disregard for it in the name of their narrow minded view of what will make money,” Chapman wrote. “I forget that Disney’s goal is to make money without concern for integrity. Silly me.”
Here here Chapman, here here.
So artsies, today’s theme is rise above the glitter. And please enjoy some Disney songs acapella style to distract you. Because even though I’m mad about Merida, I will always love the music.
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