I hope you will forgive the presumption of this long-time fan. I have always loved your movies but, I must admit, I loved them for the singing. Not the princesses, not their dresses. Sure, I am a fan of happily ever afters, as well, but I am not addicted to them.
Now, Brave was obviously not my favourite movie: too little singing. But it had an incredible, quacky sort of charm, featuring a strong female protagonist, a girl who is everything but what she is supposed to be, and despite this, manages to find and build her own place in the family, kingdom, and wider world.
Yet, I heard that you are looking to redesign Merida, the protagonist of this movie, with a view to inducting her among your other princesses. You, I am told, want to make her more shapely, better dressed, and better groomed.
Now, some people are questioning your judgement; why would a teenage heroine who isn’t ready or interested in the other gender be more shapely? Why would a girl who rips the seams of her nice gown to shoot a bow be better dressed? And how would someone who spends any spare minute in the woods find the time to be well-groomed (let alone, find a possibility to actually maintain such a ‘do)? This alteration simply goes against the character and the storyline.
That said, though, this is not why I am writing to you. I remember at some point reading an article explaining that Disney is the sort of brand that should be well above little fads. Although the writer of that article was using it to say why Disney shouldn’t cater to spur-of-the-moment flavours, the key point, in my eyes, is that people equate Disney with children’s role models; for some, this has meant suing you when characters kiss on screen. But for me it means- please think about what you want to teach little girls out there. You are not the right brand to market sex. You should be looking to the future, and the future is at “stronger girls o’clock”.
Yes, having Merida be less of a sexy miss might make a dent in her popularity compared with some other princesses; but it puts her in a league of her own as a role model for the girls of today, the women of tomorrow. In terms of merchandising, and of selling, characters like Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are only acceptable to me because they are… ancient, because they are the princesses of bygone eras, to whom Disney has given a certain face and voice. My first contact with them was through the Grimm brothers, not through you; you have just materialized them better than other brands. The same goes for Ariel, Belle, Rapunzel and Jasmine. They are Disney princesses, but their stories, and their conservative attitude well predates you.
But Merida, well… she is something new. Your own mark in the world; if she were not such a complete break with everything that has gone before, she would be totally uninteresting to me as both a character and a princess. In fact I would certainly discourage my children from acquiring toys labelled “brave”, should the character’s bravery not free her from the constraints of a tight-fitting corset.
I don’t know if my daughter will like Merida someday; if she remains unchanged, I do hope so. However I know that if Merida the Brave becomes Merida the Sexy, she will be persona non grata in our household, by order of the resident Queen Bee.
Thanks for hearing me out