Merida meets 'Murica
So Disney gave its newest "princess" a makeover, and that's making some fans mad -- including the person who created Merida.
Those are the before and after looks for Merida, the heroine of Disney/Pixar's Academy Award-winning Brave. Disney officially "crowned" Merida as the company's 11th Disney princess in a ceremony at the Magic Kingdom last weekend. To publicize the ceremony and Merida's inclusion in the highly lucrative Disney Princess merchandise line, the company released several images with an, uh, updated look for the Scottish princess.
The obvious change is the switch to the sparkly dress. Hey, even warrior princesses aren't always dressed for battle. But Disney's stripped several inches off Merida's waist and hips, perpetuating a stereotype of rail-thin feminine "beauty." And Disney's reshaped Merida's mouth in addition to laying on her eye makeup with a trowel.
That's elicited a backlash from thousands of fans, as well as from Brenda Chapman, who created the character.
Let's remember that Chapman and Disney haven't had a fairy-tale relationship in the past. Disney sacked her during production, though she retained directing and writing credits on the film.
Yet the makeover reinforces an accusation that Disney simply can't seem to wrap its corporate head around a female character that doesn't look like a Barbie princess. Disney's princesses no longer look like their original selves, but instead most resemble 11 toy dolls with interchangeable bodies, distinguished only by the colors of their hair and skin, their haircuts and their dresses. Which, of course, can be swapped depending upon the occasion. Reducto ad merchandisum.
It's that merchandising that drives this, of course. For every person who signs the Change.org petition to change Merida back, hundreds more moms and dads will shell out big bucks to buy their daughters stuff with Disney princesses and their prefab look.
Merida, meet 'Murica.
Contrast Chapman's conflict with Disney with the number-one talking point that gets drilled into the head of any reporter who covers a press event at a Universal theme park. You can't get through a Universal press event without hearing its PR and Creative reps talk about how Universal cultivates relationships with filmmakers when it designs new theme park attractions -- whether that's Michael Bay on Transformers, Peter Jackson on King Kong 360:3D or Stuart Craig on Harry Potter. Left unsaid is an inference that other companies (read: Disney) aren't so accommodating with the filmmakers with which they work.
Look, Disney's going to continue to crank out impossibly skinny, Barbie-like princess merchandise so long as people keep buying it. Don't like it? Don't buy it. But theme park fans might also want to keep their eyes and ears open for how battles like this influence the creators who inspire and make tomorrow's theme park attractions. Chapman's public stance against Disney provides a relatively rare clear glimpse into the struggles between creators and executives that usually take place well behind the scenes.
"Left unsaid is an inference that other companies (read: Disney) aren't so accommodating with the filmmakers with which they work."
What bothers me about this "makeover" is that they've turned her into an adult, which is to say, they've sexualized her. Merida is an adolescent. Little girls need role models that show them there is more to being a woman than having curves and a seductive face.
I want to know why Snow White - one of the "original" princesses is shoved all the way over to the end on the left. She should be front and center with Cinderella and - to a lesser degree - Sleeping Beauty.
Although I can get upset about these things, I'm not. The original films show how the princesses look. These changes are for merchandising only. And you CAN get both the sparkly dress and the more drab original dresses at the Disney Store. The thinner look is for marketing. They certainly capture your attention and kids will want them, but they are not designed for adult consumption. You can stop worrying about the princesses appearing as adults. Kids do dress-up all the same.
She's still kinda ugly either way, so I feel like she conveys the original message regardless of change. It also proves that no matter how much makeup you apply, sometimes it just can't counteract ugliness.
Richard Faraci: "Avatarland was announced in 2011, there still hasn't been any construction started."
As a feminist and the mother of a young girl this sort of thing usually outrages me but this one just doesn't - it's nice to see I'm not the only one. (I'm also a stickler for character continuity). Merida isn't interested in feminine pursuits at her age in the movie, and it's a relief to this progressive thinker to have that sort of girl also represented in the Disney Princess Franchise. For instance, it angers me that Mulan is always represented in her formal dress instead of her battle gear.
Wait a minute. I think the real outrage should be with Ariel. How does she not have flippers for feet?
While I agree that the change is a bit strange, I am finding that there is more of an anti Disney bent being drilled into this website by Universal. I am down at the Universal parks today and was shocked to hear some of the exact talking points that are appearing in some TPI articles. I love the site, but can Disney ever do right?
Not to diminish some of the great points that have been made about real issues like equality, feminism, and stereotyping, but in this particular case all I can say is,
Count me in a part of the "Who Cares?" crowd. This in no way diminishes her personality and characteristics? Do people really want Merida (a girl who openly wipes her mouth with her own clothes after eating) to look awkwardly out of place with the rest?
Eh I don't really care ...brave was one of the most boring Disney and pixar movies ever made. A rehash of the tired out "I want to choose who I want to marry" story. Although girls may love that kind of story I find it incredibly irrelevant as forced marriage doesn't really exist in modern society and people are free to marry who they want. I think Mulan was a far better story if you want a warrior princess...she actually risks her life to safe her father ...very brave. The story was clearly written to appeal to teenage girls. Not the wider audience that Disney movies usually appeal to. And did anybody notice that all the "men" in the movie are mindless, belligerent morons? As a masculinist, Im highly offended that no males were portrayed with a balance of intelligence and physical strength.
The Disney & Universal comments on this site are generally about the same that are being said on similar internet sites. I don't detect a general bias on TPI. Most of the issues associated with Disney & Universal have been common talking points on other forums. There's pro Disney people, pro Universal people, and people that enjoy both companies.
Who cares it’s a frigging Cartoon…. Get over it…. BTW did you see the Bruins epic win last night!! Now that’s real…
Geez..now I'm scared. I was gonna express my utter outrage that Jessica Rabbit is not represented, then I saw that Brian mentioned the same thing. I fear for my sanity :)
Thanks Mike you made me laugh… Plus those curves on Jessica are almost as great as the Bruins win last night….. (Sorry I had to mention that again!) hahahahah
I'd say the trend is more like there are people who are both pro-Disney and pro-Universal and others who are pro-Universal and anti-Disney.
I'm not against the aging process. I'm not against the pretty dress... but I really don't like the make-over. They could have made her look like an older Merida without changing all her features. She was perfect just the way she was.
Disney already caved and put the original image back up on the princess page - This story made the MSN homepage...
This absolute obsession with Disney Princess stuff in the parks has always left me kind of cold. I have three sons and they hate it. We have been to Universal 4 times in the last 5 years, our boys have no interest in Disney any more. They feel Disney is more for little kids and girls.
Good point on the last comment. I think it would be nice if Disney made more emphasis on the princes and other characters... Like Chef Remy, Wall-E, Lightning MCQueen, etc.
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