A couple weeks ago I watched the movie Brave; the Pixar flick about the Scottish princess who doesn’t want to get married so she turns her mom into a bear and she’s really good with a bow and arrow. It’s not Pixar’s best, the plot has already been done, (it’s essentially Freaky Friday) but it’s still an above average cartoon movie and the soundtrack and visuals are fantastic.
Brave is a different princess movie as there is no prince. The story is about a relationship between a girl and her mother not a girl and her crush. Because there was no prince, many feminists approved of the movie. There were some critiques of the plot being a little basic and Merida being a little too schoolgirl tomboy in personality but no one seemed to notice the obvious.
Brave makes the case for gender roles but in an intelligent way. The very first scene, a mother and father combine to protect their child from a bear. The mother grabs the child and runs while the father stays and fights the bear, losing his leg in the process. Women protect children, men protect women.
One of the funniest scenes in the movie is when three different tribes arrive with their finest warriors vying to win Princess Merida’s hand. Chaos quickly ensues and all the men are brawling in the hall. Even the king, Merida’s father is getting in on the fun. It’s not until Merida’s mother, the queen, calmly walks to the front of the room and commands the men to stop that things settle down. Men are wild, women calm them down.
Later in the movie Merida comes across the same bear that took her father’s leg. The only reason she escapes the bear’s clutches (despite being an excellent shot with her bow) is because her mother, who is now also a bear, helps her get away. There is no way Merida would’ve survived the attack had not Merida’s mother literally been a bear. Women aren’t able to take down big strong foes with their bare hands except in fantasies involving special powers and abilities.
Part of the movie’s charm is the way it even showcases male vs female attraction. Males are visual creatures who think about a specific topic more often than women. At the very end of the movie the queen gets turned back into a human and is unclothed except for the blanket she is wrapped in. The first thing her husband does after hugging her is try to get a peep at her naked body. I actually chuckled at this part because any woman who has dated a man has experienced doing some sort of normal, seemingly non-sexual task whilst inadvertently turning their guy on.
While Merida can handle a bow better than any of the fellas, in war, you need brute strength too. This was especially true in the olden days but is still important today. The average U.S. soldier carries an extra 60 pounds in gear. Special Ops forces carry even more weight. Now that I’m writing this I’m realizing Brave also makes the case for concealed carry. Guns are the only equalizer in a literal battle between the sexes.
Men are needed to fend off bears and fight wars, women make sure that’s not all they do.
The fact is, any story involving male and female relationships that doesn’t acknowledge this truth won’t resonate with anyone. That doesn’t mean women can’t be tough and men can’t be sensitive. Merida is a badass and her dad has a soft side but women and men are designed to do different things. And I mean that scientifically.
Brave shows the dynamics of men and women but in a subtle way. The bravest person in the movie wasn’t Merida who ran to a witch to solve her problems with magic. Nor was it Merida’s mother who can’t fathom the idea of jigging the system by not forcing her daughter to marry. The bravest person in the movie is Merida’s father who, even after getting his leg ripped off by a bear, didn’t hesitate to charge into battle against the very same bear in order to protect his wife and children.