My Observations of Strong Women in Media

Sheenah Archive, Books 0 Comments

I have a bone to pick with Disney. No, I assure you, you are not in the Twilight Zone. For years, Disney has made girls all googly and giddy over princesses. I have no qualms against it. There are plenty of great role models in each Disney princess that each girl can take from. But it’s this latest Pixar movie that has me irritated. I’ve been super excited to run out and see Brave the moment I found out about it (maybe two years ago, now?). The premise was great and I’m interested to see what Pixar, most known for their amazing boy-geared movies with emotional content, is going to do with their first girl as the main character.

And then the commercials started coming in…


Most of the commercials I’ve been seeing in my area have been more or less like the one above. It’s filled with every single slapstick and one-liner that the movie might have, all perfectly condensed in this little time frame. It tells me nothing about the movie. Absolutely nothing. Based on the above commercial, if I had no previous knowledge of the movie beforehand, I would assume the movie was a light-hearted comedy and not some sort of epic adventure.

Let’s compare how the U.S. is marketing the movie and compare it with the Japan’s marketing, shall we?


Better? Gives you more of an idea what’s going on, doesn’t it? And it would appear that Merida is very much like another red-haired Disney princess — Ariel. I have some things about Ariel that irk me, but I’ll save that for another day.

It irks me that Hollywood believes that in order to make a huge blockbuster hit out of a movie featuring a strong lady as the leading role, they need to surround her with able-bodied men and a plethora of humor or over-sexualize her. And I should correct myself. It’s not just Hollywood. It’s everyone. There’s a really good article on the comic book industry over-sexualizing women that goes on about how the artists take random scenes and kill the story because they feel the need to make the women super sexy and put them in ridiculous costumes. Hey, comic book artists. Tell me how ridiculous it would look if Green Lantern was wearing an outfit like Star Sapphire? Exactly. So don’t do it.

Seriously. Why were they in the movie?

As for Disney, I can’t just deny the existence of animal sidekicks. I accept that they are the thing to give to princesses, but if they’re not going to be actual characters in the story and are more or less there for gags, take them out. Let’s ask ourselves: How much better would Pocahontas have been if the animals were out of the picture? Maybe Jeffrey Katzenberg’s dream of seeing the film reach the same level of esteem as Beauty and the Beast would have been reached without the animals. Speaking of the success of Beauty and the Beast, guess what? THERE WERE NO ANIMAL SIDEKICKS. Sure, Belle had her horse, but Phillipe was kinda there in the shadow. It was the humans–er, enchanted objects–that were actual characters and nobody was merely there for simply gags (except maybe Lefou, but it wasn’t overbearing).

Thankfully, The Hunger Games was such a huge success. The men around Katniss aren’t exactly able-bodied. Haymitch is constantly drunk and Peeta is more like a damsel in distress; they both contrast wonderfully to Katniss. And the best part? She’s not into that romancey stuff. So here we see proof that a strong woman will drive people to the box office. Because guess what? If the story is great, people will pay to see the movie or read the books. And men aren’t bored or embarrassed to see an action movie with a leading female character who isn’t wearing some skin-tight suit and strutting around like a ditz. They’re just as excited as the female audience and going out and buying the books and aren’t afraid to read the series in public.

With the huge success of The Hunger Games I’m really hoping that if the movie industry decides to make another action-adventure movie with a female lead, they won’t feel the need to over-sexualize her or put in unnecessary gags. Because as Katniss has proven, a strong woman can make movie-goers go to theaters. And please, Pixar, if you ever decide to make another movie with a female lead, don’t follow Disney’s example and put in a bunch of gags and animal sidekicks into your film. Especially your trailers. Okay?

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