Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Princess of the Day: Merida from Brave

A Princess Strives for...Perfection
If there was ever a Princess crying out to be crowned Princess of the Day, it is Merida, the medieval Scottish protagonist of Brave. Her fabulous flowing red curls are enough to earn her the honor. (I usually disdain the word "locks," but I almost used it in the last sentence because "hair" doesn't seem grand enough to describe that springy mass, which is in just the perfect shade. Next time I get my roots done I may show a picture of Merida to the colorist.)

Merida also is an excellent equestrienne, and expert enough at archery to show up the three goofballs competing for her hand in marriage. The conflict stems from Merida's refusal to get married. Besides the fact that she is young and wants to be free, you can't blame her for not wanting to marry any of the candidates. They are about as eligible as the denizens of Animal House, except they hang in a Medieval Scottish castle instead of a frat house, substitute mead for beer and bear hunt instead of playing football.

There isn't a single worthy male in this movie. If I was a man I'd be kind of pissed. King Fergus, the Princess' father, is a doofus, while her mother is uptight and no fun, training Merida to be a proper princess. "A princess never leaves her weapon on the table," she chastises. (Aside: the uptight mom/relaxed dad dynamic seems to be the parental template in every single comedy these days--see bumbling Phil/hyper Carol on the hilarious Modern Family. What's that about? Maybe another post for some other day after the kids are in bed.)

Merida stands her ground, and gets in a bit of trouble, such as accidently changing her mother into a bear. Oopsy. But of course it all works out and everyone lives happily ever after. There are those who have put forth the theory that Merida might be a lesbian. Maybe it is exciting to have an upstanding character in a mainstream movie for kids who might grow up to be a homosexual. But my first, visceral reaction when I hear this theory was annoyance. So if a female character is strong and confident, and doesn't want to get married, she's gay? Straight girls can't be strong and independent, and ride their horses, and refuse lady training? These qualities have nothing to do with sexual preference.

Merida kind of reminds me of Felicity, the American Girl from the Revolutionary War, who also resists her mother's urge to civilize her. I love the American Girl books, because my daughter learns about American history and the protagonists are all admirable. Just for fun, here is a chart comparing the two.

                                            Felicity                                 Merida
Hair                                    chestnut brown                      red
Horse                                  Penny                                    Angus
Meaning of name              Happiness                              Honorable
Nemesis                              Drunken Jiggy Nye               Killer bear
Mother                               Falls gravely ill                     Temporary bear
Romance?                          No. She's 10.                          No!


  1. Here is a skit that I love about the bumbling husband trope.

  2. Seems to me the bumbling husband/uptight wife is a straight-up misogynist fantasy of men doing nothing useful because women have to do it all in order to justify their existence. Women may have a hard time understanding it, precisely because it's a male fantasy.

    Instead of having a competent, useful, hard-working husband who cooks and cleans and helps you keep it together. There's nothing appealing about that.