There has been a lot of hype recently surrounding Merida, from Disney’s Brave, officially becoming the 11th Disney Princess on the 11th May. She joins the ranks of Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Jasmin, Belle, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana and Rapunzel.
Unfortunately, it came as a surprise to many people when Merida was revamped for the part.
Now, I’m not going to argue whether she should have been revamped or not, but I am going to say my piece.
Quite frankly, i don’t care that she has been revamped. Yes, really. And here’s why.
Suddenly appearing more ‘cartoonised’ doesn’t change the fact that the movie Brave happened. It doesn’t change the fact that she could shoot an arrow and rejected marriage and was totally bad arse.
Suddenly having hair that is slightly less messy doesn’t mean her character has changed. It means she has been put into a form that is going to be easily reproducible for mass media, as is the intent of the whole Disney Princess franchise.
Being more curvy and having brighter eyes, lighter skin tone etc are all part of the same also. All of the Princesses underwent a revamp for the project. She has hardly been hypersexualised, as some have claimed, not in comparison to some of the other princesses.
And the last cause of outrage is her dress. It does of course come as shocking that a Disney Princess would have a formal dress. Because none of the princesses are known to be shown in formal dresses, no. Mulan, legendary warrior who saved China, never appears in her battle gear, she only ever appears in her bride outfit, which she very distinctly casts away at the beginning of the film. Belle only appears in her ball gown for the Tale as Old as Time song, yet hardly appears out of it in any official line up and Snow White doesn’t even have a ball gown in the film, and has magically been made one.
So yes, all of these things have happened, and questionably they are shit (personally, I just don’t like the new look). But I don’t understand why that, and not other inconsistencies inherent in the whole marketing of the Princesses, is what is cause for outrage. The whole franchise is money making ploy to exploit little girls and their parents pockets. There are no Disney Princes range (which is rather sexist in itself) because it could just never bring in the amount of money that a Princesses range could.
So maybe, instead of just defaulting to an angry position when Disney does something, you should look at the social mechanisms that have allowed it to be so. They market it this way because they know that’s what’s going to sell. They pay a lot of people a lot of money to figure that out. If you have a problem, look at why those things sell, stop and have a talk to younger children about what makes it appealing, what they would really rather see and whether they in fact even care, because I know I sure didn’t. What she looks like doesn’t change who she was as a character nor what the movie represented.
I’m not much of a ranter, and definitely not much of a feminist ranter at that, but boy things really annoy me.