Is Brave Pushing the Limits?

bravemovieDisney and Pixar Studios has done it again.  Their new hit, Brave, came out into theaters less than two weeks ago and already it’s a story unlike any other.  This year’s princess isn’t a damsel in distress rescued by your quinessential knight in shining armor.  In fact, there’s no knight at all in this tale.  It’s about one girl: Merida.  And about how she changed the life fate was trying to hand her.

The controversy is minimal surrounding this fairy tale.  There’s no obvious pushing of the envelope, but even the absence of such challenges has brought some viewers to question the motives behind this adolescent tale of freedom.  Adam Markowitz of Entertainment Weekly even goes so far as to question Merida’s orientation toward women in his article, “Could the heroine of Pixar’s Brave be gay?” 

I was having dinner with a friend last night when she questioned the entire premise of the movie.  She felt the movie was flip-flopping gender roles in saying that women need to be the brave ones.  “Who are the ones who are supposed to be brave?,” she asked her 13-year-old daughter.  Men are.  God created them to be protectors.  Even Rachel Held Evans points out the weak men portrayed in this film, making the difference between daughter and father that much more stark.

S0, we ask you, readers: What do you think about this?  Is Brave simply a sweet compelling story about one woman’s fight for freedom, or is it something more?  Do you think there is an underlying agenda in play?  Or should we all just forget about it and enjoy the entertainment?

What do you think?

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5 thoughts on “Is Brave Pushing the Limits?

  1. Hey Sarah, while I haven’t watched the movie yet, it has been the topic of much thought lately. We all love those Disney movies, but honestly, when it comes down to it…I’m not usually thrilled with the messages they are sending to our oh so impressionable children. I’ve watched the previews and the resounding theme was…disobey your parents so you can fulfill your dreams. This isn’t a first for Disney…it seems to be what they put out there…The Little Mermaid immediately comes to mind. So, while we enjoy the entertainment of it, I wonder if we downplay their influence too much. Oddly enough, I actually like most of the Barbie movies…NEVER thought I’d say that in a million years. However, they (at least the older ones) support good morals and obedience to parents…I was pleasantly surprised! I’m all for a girl being independent and strong…that’s what I want for my girl…and it’s how I remember you. At the same time, I want her to honor her parents and obey the Lord…I don’t believe that those qualities need to remain separate…you, Sarah, are living proof that it can be done…for that, I thank you!

  2. Yeah, I’ve often been a little disgusted with Disney ~ both movies and TV shows ~ at the blatant disrespect for adults and authority figures. But this whole “you are the creator of your own self and destiny” thing is really just a reflection of our culture. That’s how virtually everyone thinks, even with regards to gender and sexual orientation. It’s no surprise that it’s the underlying theme in almost everything we hear and see. Whether it’s an agenda Disney is actually pushing or just a reflection of our culture is probably debatable.

    I don’t allow my girls to watch everything they’d like to, but I also don’t restrict their viewing as much as I could and sometimes feel I should. It’s tough to find a healthy balance. I don’t want them to be oblivious to the ideas floating around, but I also want them to understand what’s wrong with much of our day’s popular philosophies and how we SHOULD be viewing our lives and ourselves as the women God created us to be. I want them to understand WHY God designed families and desired children to have parents; the spiritual truth family is supposed to picture to the world. I want them to know how authority SHOULD be exercised and why God created it to be something beautiful they can love and rely on, while learning respect and obedience.

    Now, will we see the movie? I don’t know. I think I will wait until I hear more from others who’ve seen it. Fotunately, with my little town’s single cinema, if it even becomes an option, it won’t play here until the rest of the country has thoroughly viewed and reviewed it for me!

  3. Ok, maybe I’m just a feminist, or maybe it was because I actually liked the movie. I don’t know, I think there are all sorts of brave, all sorts of bravery. I find it laughable that the main character should be considered “gay” because really, in the true sense of the word it means happy. Merida, by no means, is happy. In fact it is that she is unhappy in the first place that allows her to choose, to change her own destiny. Now it is true that Disney isn’t a… Christian company. BUT! It does install a sense of justice, a sense of BRAVERY into a girl to choose her own path. As a Christian young lady, I find it that we are allowing God to choose our own paths. Merida goes out in to the world–yes she is disobeying her parents, but she also is being forced into marriage, she is also sticking to her beliefs, her sense of freedom that was at first installed by her parents.

    Her parents want the best for her, she just doesn’t believe that the best for her is the path her parents chose. It is because she sticks to these beliefs that she is able to reconcile, able to mend the bond once broken, between her and her mother. It may involve turning her mother into a bear in the process, but hey, she fixed it didn’t she? Both the parents and the princess learn something. Something about family, something about hardships, and something about bravery. Merida choose to be brave, she choose to be different. That led to her finding herself in a better situation, for all involved.

    Isn’t that what all parents and children want? Just to understand the other? The movie Brave broaches this topic. It doesn’t…gender swap, or flip flop the roles people are assigned to. I think, as a God following young adult that Brave gives girls a chance. It gives them the fact to follow their heart, do what they KNOW is right, even if no one else believes them. Isn’t that what the foundation of the bible is? Doing what is godly, what is right, even in the most dire of circumstances?

    Now, I’m not refuting that parents need to be there, we all need influences, good influences, but, Merida, she follows the influences her parents set on her. She follows her heart, as her dad taught her, and does it with the compassion and grace of her mother. Disney may have a lack of authority figures, and “be the change you want to be”, but that is only viewing the negative. Think, remember all the princess’s all the fairytale characters you grew up with? All had GOOD influences on them, all had people, creatures, and assorted beings that were there for them. Some may not have parents, but there was always a character written in to fulfill that void.

    But hey, I’m a 90’s kid. I grew up with disney, princess’s and was told I could be and do anything I ever wanted to do. The difference is I also grew up with a godly influence, and a GOOD influence, of my parents in my life. Trust me, there may be times where we are at each other’s throats, but i will always love my parents, just as Merida will always love her mother. All it took, was a little compromise.

  4. I’m glad Corrie Ten Boom didn’t wait around for a man to be brave, and instead took it upon herself to rescue people from the Nazi death camps. You seriously need to take your ideas of godly womanhood from women who followed Jesus, and not middle class, Victorian-era sex roles. I sometimes wonder if this Victorianism isn’t a plot by Satan to weaken the effectiveness of the church by holding back the female half of God’s army.

    • So well said Teresa! As a woman in ministry, I often think these same exact thoughts. I think of Corrie Ten Boom, or many other biblical examples of women who were required to be brave – because that was the godly thing to do. I think God requires Bravery of all of us.

      As children, we have to stand up for what is right, even when its not “cool” or peer pressure is staring us down. That’s bravery. As young women, we have to bravely fight to find our identity and virtue in Christ, and fight against the idea of “Prince Charming will make me whole”, or this apparent new concept, “If there’s not a Prince Charming does that mean she’s gay?” As a mother, I can’t imagine facing childbirth, motherhood, or marriage for that matter, without a healthy dose of bravery. God wants us to be brave, He designed us to do brave things. And as a female (& feminine) Christ-follower I will not be dismayed when brave things are required of me.

      Christian femininity shouldn’t be defined by our 1st world, Victorian-Era culture – it should be defined by biblical standards. We’ve forgotten that not long ago, the common women used to kill, pluck or skin the dinner they cooked. They were face to face with much more death and hardship than we are today. The fact that we can write about “such things” on a blog and still be considered feminine is because someone was brave before us. God has placed such value and purpose in His women, I hope we are brave enough to see it and move forward in it despite what the world may say.

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