Posts Tagged ‘fathers’

[As a brief sidenote before I get any snarky comment about it:  I’m aware there is debate, especially in feminist theory circles, about the phrase “strong female characters” and the mere flipping of gender roles and denial of femininity and all that.  That’s all fine and good for grad seminar or the like, but I’m looking at this through the eyes of a father who wants to continually expand his daughter’s experiences of what girls can be like.  So, yeah, strong female characters it is.]

Modern Primate just published my article on Disney/Pixar’s Brave, which you can read here if so inclined.  It is less of a generic film review than a response to a few overly positive reviewers who seem to be falling over themselves to congratulate Disney for finally creating a princess character who isn’t stereotypically girlish and driven by desire for romance and marriage.  Sure, the film has this element, which is a huge deviation from past Disney princesses, and Merida is certainly a strong, non-traditional character in a lot of ways.  Despite this, the film is very conservative overall in how gender roles, patriarchy, and parent-child relationships are portrayed.

One of the things I took note of that I think bears more consideration is the portrayal of Princess Merida’s father, King Fergus, and what that means for how the film may or may not challenge traditional gender norms.  I wrote:

In the close of the film’s action, King Fergus is shown embracing his beloved wife and daughter as the patriarch whose role has not really changed throughout the film’s crises.  There is little new understanding between father and daughter or husband and wife because Fergus is a mere caricature.  Because of the way the story’s world is set up, and the lack of development of Fergus, very little of importance can change due to Merida’s rebellion, recklessness, and bravery.  While she may indeed be a strong female lead character, her story ends as a lesson in traditional values.