I went to see Brave last night, but I didn't think the message was very brave at all. This, of course, is my own personal opinion, but I was sad to see that in order to empower girls and give them encouragement, Disney had to present us with clueless, silly male characters.
There is no hero in this movie, only a heroine. However, Disney not only gives us a purposefully absent prince or love interest (long gone are the days when a princess needs saving by a man), but they draw the men as violent, rash, stupid, silly, pompous males. The king, arguably the most normal man in the movie, is unable to publically speak without his queen prompting his words, and every clan leader and clan leader's son is a laughable joke until the main character princess comes in and rallies them all to enlightenment and proper decision making with her speech on unity, breaking tradition and forging your own path.
What I found particularly unbrave about Brave was the moral of the story. I couldn't really find an admirable lesson. Perhaps there was a pale innuendo that pride leads to misunderstanding and trouble, plus reconciliation is necessary when we fight. Any trace of this was erased, though, by presenting us with a selfish princess (even admiting she is selfish) who decides her desires for her destiny are most important, even if she has to hurt others to get there. Sure, she ultimately has remorse for what she does to others, but all is excused at the end, and she ultimately still gets her desires, as if it were all worth it in the end.
My favorite Disney movies have had solid moral stories--Cars teaches us about not being prideful and relying on others, not judging a book by its cover (Mater and Sally), and that oftentimes fame and fortune are disappointing, superficial paths. Toy Story teaches us to be a loyal friend, to not let jealousy take hold, and to love each other for our own unique strengths--forgiving mistakes and working on weaknesses because we all have them. Up teaches us about empathy and the strength of love. Even in the recent Tangled, the characters may start out as flawed and self serving, but they realign their priorities for what is right and good.
Brave didn't teach me much. It is a miss to me. I don't understand why we have to belittle men to build women up. I don't know why bravery is equated with selfish drive and ambition to decide one's own fate. It seems cowardly to me to hurt others in order to achieve your dreams. Though Merida tries to correct her hurtful decisions, there is no compromise with others at any point in the movie, no hint of true, selfless sacrifice.
I'd rather have my children watch a movie about real heroes and heroines who sacrificed for others and considered others better than themselves--even if they take a flawed journey to get there. That is what I consider brave.
Have you seen Brave? What were your thoughts?