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This topic is coming up a bit late, but it’s something I thought was interesting. Having three jobs and running my section every three weeks in the summer can be a bit limiting.
Brave came to theaters on June 22. Seemingly it is just another animated Disney-storyline film with a princess and a witch and anthropomorphized animals. You know the schtick. But, along with bringing in $66.7 million at the box office her first weekend, Princess Merida has also brought along with her some unnecessary controversy.
Spoiler alert: Princess Merida, a young Scottish girl with a knack for shooting arrows from her bow, doesn’t want to be forced to marry a stranger. As per royal tradition, the king and queen arrange for Merida to meet three suitors, one of which she will have to marry to carry on the royal lineage. Merida doesn’t want to. She’d rather do her own thing.
Do you see why I preface the word “controversy” with the word “unnecessary”? The weekend after Brave hit the theaters, bloggers and the media were speculating if Disney and Pixar were trying to make waves by implying that Merida could possibly be a lesbian.
I liked this film. I can obviously relate a little, because I’m nearly 24 years old and not married. At this point in my life, I haven’t actually made a conscious decision about whether or not I will ever get married. It isn’t because I’m a lesbian. It’s because I’m just a person who has the freedom to do what I want to do. I am fortunate enough to live in a place and time where my father doesn’t decide how many oxen he’ll trade my hand in marriage for to the smelly farmer down the road. It’s really nice.
Now, don’t get me wrong. If Disney/Pixar were to have a gay character, I’d support it, but in all actuality, there were no allusions to Merida being a lesbian whatsoever. Mostly all she was was a young woman with passion for something who wanted to be her own person. She never even said that she never wanted to get married, but that she’d rather do it in her own time if it felt right.
I feel like society takes a big step back when an implication about one aspect of a person is his or her defining character. Saying Merida is a lesbian because she likes to shoot arrows is like saying I’m a superhero because I am a journalist. Boxing people into an easy stereotype is lazy and boring and at times can lead to more trouble than it’s worth.
It’s 2012. This is not a new concept, and I don’t know why it even has to be addressed. Human beings are multifaceted, and one decision they make for themselves rarely defines them wholly. In my not-so-humble opinion, I’m glad that Merida is the face of the new Disney princess. Teaching children that they have the option to fall in love or shoot arrows or both or neither is exciting and exactly where we need to be.