24 June, 2012
Maiden Mother or Crone, Brave Is A Small World After All
There you have it. Girls like horses, right? Merida gets a horse. The most important part of this story is Merida learning to respect her place and Elinor loosening up a bit, so focus on them. Unlike every other Pixar film (except, perhaps Up) and every Disney Princess ever, Merida has no confidantes. She has no comrades. Elinor has no support system. These two women are alone except for the men they must please. When the clans come to visit there is great talk of the close bonds between the families. Elinor is given the hushed impersonal respect common to Traditional Values while the men are excused from being reasonable. Her taming hand causes them to bow and scrape. When she's a powerful bear they tie her naked body down and prepare to kill her. I don't buy the "But she's a BEAR!" aspect of this. She is a bear when Merida's brothers recognize and obey her authority. In a film supposedly about women there are only three - maid, mother and crone. (Ok, there is a sexualized and fairly dim servant, but otherwise.)
Name another Pixar film where the main character has no friends. I'll wait.
Still working on that? In order for Merida or Elinor to have the same friendship offered other Pixar characters, they would have to be seen as something outside of their gender. As long as Merida is trapped in her Token Female Lead role, she is stuck in the trinity. I assume at one point Merida did have a friend. Andrews says he cut the extraneous characters, which means other plot lines were abandoned. Since Merida's father still has a large and varied social group it seems likely that women were once in the cast. Think about the scene just before the ending. Merida reminds the men what makes them great. It is their friendship, it is the service they have done one another. In a film about a mother and daughter, the most significant speech the enlightened heroine gives is... about the glory of men.