Photo: Disney / Pixar
“She bristles at the traditional gender roles that she’s expected to play: the demure daughter, the obedient fiancée. Her love of unprincess-like hobbies, including archery and rock-climbing, is sure to strike a chord with gay viewers who felt similarly “not like the other kids” growing up. And she hates the prospect of marriage—at least, to any of the three oafish clansmen that compete for her hand—enough to run away from home and put her own mother’s life at risk. She’s certainly not a swooning, boy-crazy Disney princess like The Little Mermaid’s Ariel or Snow White. In fact, Merida may be the first in that group to be completely romantically disinclined (even cross-dressing Mulan had a soft spot for Li Shang).”
He goes on to say that, “regardless of whether or not Disney/Pixar intended it, those same traits are bound to make Merida an unofficial gay icon — even if she never comes near a Pride parade.”
The post was heavily shared, and lead to hundreds of passionate comments. “I found this article to be offensive. Whenever a girl wants to be independent and not obsess about boys, she is presumed to be gay. This article just encourages that kind of narrow minded thinking,” said a commenter named Julia.
Some have questioned the need to classify the character’s sexual orientation at all, considering she’s the star of a animated children’s movie.
Since Pixar films appeal to all ages, it’s easy to forget that they are made first and foremost for kids. This isn’t “50 Shades of Brave.”
Disney would never broach the subject and risk potentially millions of merchandising dollars by stating the sexual orientation of their newest character, so don’t expect a definitive answer. Not that there should be one.
Films, books, and all forms of popular culture are open to personal interpretation, and “Brave” is no different. Gay or straight, Merida is a strong, independent female character (Hollywood’s been churning out a lot of them lately) and that’s reason enough for praise.
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