After massive protest, Disney pulls new Merida from site

Exciting news! Today, Rebecca Hains, blogger and media studies professor, reports:

“As of today, Disney has quietly pulled the 2D image of Merida from its website, replacing it with the original Pixar version. Perhaps we’ll be spared an onslaught of sexy Merida merchandise yet.”

YAY! Check out the link, it’s true! BRAVE Merida is back.

I guess Disney was right to be so terrified of creating a strong, BRAVE, female protagonist (along with Pixar studios which hadn’t had ANY female protags before “Brave.”) It looks like Merida could be turning Disney’s franchise on it’s head. That’s pretty damn heroic.

Another mistake Disney made with “Brave?” They hired a female director. They fired her, but it was too late. Brenda Chapman wrote “Brave” based on her daughter. She was furious with the character’s transformation and wrote publicly about Disney’s terrible mistake.

Of the debacle Hains writes:

That’s right: Although Merida was created by a woman as a role model for girls, the male-dominated consumer product division at Disney has ignored the character’s intended benefits for young girls, sexualizing her for profit. Compared with her film counterpart, this new Merida is slimmer and bustier. She wears makeup, and her hair’s characteristic wildness is gone: It has been volumized and restyled with a texture more traditionally “pretty.” Furthermore, she is missing her signature bow, arrow, and quiver; instead, she wears a fashionable sash around her sparkly, off-the-shoulder gown. (As Peggy Orenstein noted when she broke the news of the redesign, “Moms tell me all the time that their preschool daughters are pitching fits and destroying their t-shirts because ‘princesses don’t cover their shoulders.’” I’ve heard the same from parents, as well.)

Is the sexualized  image of Merida gone for good? Has Disney learned a lesson? Or will that lesson be: No more strong female characters leading a film! No more female directors writing about their daughters! Keep the females weak and quiet!

It’s up to you. This could be a turning point. Parents, please use your voice and your wallet to keep strong, heroic females showing up in narratives and images marketed to your kids. Right now, girls are missing from children’s media and when they do appear, they’re sexualized. This is normal. Not healthy, but tragically, perfectly normal.

Yesterday, Melissa Wardy posted this image on her Pigtail Pals Facebook page, reminding us Merida’s new image was not created in a vacuum.

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Objectifying and sexualizing girls is dangerous. A first step to abuse is always dehumanizing the victim. Propaganda, in the form of images and narratives, effectively dehumanizes on a mass scale.

Images/ narratives of Jews circa 1938

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Africans circa 1931

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Females circa 2013

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It’s easy to look back on history and wonder: How did people ever put up with that? I’d never buy into it, not to mention expose my child to it. But what are you participating in right now that is completely accepted, not to mention celebrated, by our culture?

Be part of the solution. Demand narratives with strong female characters for your kids.

Update: New Merida may be off Disney’s site but she’s showing up all over the place including Target. Below is Target’s web page.

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King Fergus of ‘Brave’ demands to know: ‘Where’s my makeover?’

Since his daughter, Princess Merida, made national headlines with her makeover– she’s skinnier with tamed curls, a new off the shoulder gown, and the belt that once held her quiver has morphed into a fashion sash– King Fergus wants to know: “Where’s my makeover?”

"BRAVE"

Fergus says, “It’s not fair. I’m the King! Why are princesses always the ones who get to look pretty? Some would call me fat, hairy, and I’m missing a leg for goodness sake. Where’s my stylist?” Throughout DunBroch, Fergus has posted these before and after pics of Merida:

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Now, King Fergus wants to know:  “Artists, what can you do for me?”

Fergus won’t be getting a makeover because male characters are allowed to occupy a whole range of looks (including rats or planes) and personalities. Male characters aren’t clones. Please sign the petition to Disney: “Say No to the Merida Makeover, Keep Our Hero Brave.” (100,000 signatures and counting!)

Disney destroys Brave’s Merida with sexy makeover #NotBuyingIt

From the Mary Sue:

“On May 11th Brave‘s Merida will be officially crowned as the 11th Disney Princess, the impact of which is that Disney will be selling more stuff with her on it, I guess? Anyway. Along with the “coronation ceremony,” to be held at Walt Disney World, Merida’s gotten a new redesign…”

A great summary from Toward the Stars:

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Here’s one of my favorite pre-botox, pre-makeover Merida expressions.

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Pithy analysis from Peggy Orenstein on the eventual fate of way too many of Disney’s female characters:

Because, in the end, it wasn’t about being brave after all. It was about being pretty…I’m especially creeped out by Belle who appears to have had major surgery… In addition to everything else, they’re pushing the brown girls slowly but surely to the edges…

I’ve always said that it’s not about the movies. It’s about the bait-and-switch that happens in the merchandise, and the way the characters have evolved and proliferated off-screen. Maybe the problem is partly that these characters are designed in Hollywood, where real women are altering their appearance so regularly that animators, and certainly studio execs, think it’s normal.

The disease of homogeneous, anorexic, botoxed, generic females has spread worldwide, through these kinds of images. Did you see the Reddit story about the Korean beauty queens: “Has plastic surgery made these beauty queens all look the same? Koreans complain about pageant clones.” Talk about creepy.

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One commenter wrote:

‘The surgery takes away their individuality and uniqueness and its sad. Most are beautiful without it but telling them that their Korean ethnic features are in fact lovely is as effective as screaming at a brick wall.

‘They wont believe you because they’ve been brainwashed to think westernization of their features is superior, I don’t think they want to look white, but a mix of white and Asian and definitely less Korean.’

This is how one “beauty” queen describes herself:

The student revealed her plastic surgery secret after photos emerged of her looking very different at school, but she said she hadn’t misled anyone.

But she defended her crown telling the Korean media: ‘I never said I was born beautiful.’

 

So sad because this generic look has absolutely nothing to do with “beauty” and everything to do with power, Westernization, capitalism, and status. TV host Stephen Colbert explained it well when he jokingly asked teen writer/ phenom Tavi Gevinson: “But if girls feel good about themselves, how will we sell them things they don’t need?”

How indeed? I was a huge Merida fan, as were my kids, and I bought my three young daughters several figures, books, and posters featuring her because she was cool. Here’s a framed poster over my four year old daughter’s bed so she can see her when she goes to sleep at night, along with her favorite Merida book.

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Like Merida, my daughter, Rose, has wild, curly hair that she hates to have brushed.

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I hope my daughter never feels that she has to look generic and homogeneous in order to be “beautiful.” I hope she always knows that her beauty comes from her spirit. That’s not some meaningless cliche. There’s nothing “attractive” about frozen-faced clones. Disney’s new, madeover Merida has absolutely nothing to offer my kids. I won’t be buying ANY merchandise with this awful, new image.

Reel Girl rates the new Merida ***SSS*** for major stereotyping.

Please Tweet @Disney We want Merida brave, not botoxed. New, madeover Merida is bad for kids #NotBuyingIt

 

 

More cool female action figures

I tore these cool women away from my kids long enough to get them photographed. My husband took the pictures.

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So here we have soccer players (they come with a ball they can kick), Catwoman with her whip and motorcycle, Batgirl, Wonder Woman with her plane, Hawkgirl, and Princess Leia.

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Next we have Coraline (who you’ve seen in an earlier post) Katniss and Merida (who were not Christmas presents but wanted to join the party) and Rue from the Hunger Games.

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Catwoman, Serafina Pekkala, Lyra Silvertongue, Black Widow, Wonder Woman (already missing her laso) and another Batgirl

All figures except for Merida and Katniss were found on A Mighty Girl or Toward the Stars. That little Wonder Woman on A Mighty Girl’s promo was the one who started me on my shopping spree.

Hawkgirl’s rack

A couple days ago, I posted about how excited I was to buy some female action figures. Some of the new toys have arrived, including one of my all time favorites EVER, Serafina Pekkala from The Golden Compass. I love her.

I can’t wait until Christmas and my kids get Serafina together with Merida and Katniss, there will be an army of archers.

But, I’m kind of bummed about Hawkgirl.

Is it me or are her breasts seriously distracting?

Her head is cool, her wings are cool, but I don’t know if I can get past that bright yellow cleavage.  The whole point of buying these toys is to give kids an alternative so why the torpedo breasts? I get that my kids were not foremost in the toy designer or comic book artist’s mind, but I wish they were. They should be, right? I have 3 girls, but I don’t think I’d be psyched to give this toy to my son either.

But tell me what you think. And what you think a kid would think. Just don’t compare big breasts to big muscles. If you feel tempted, read this post.

Update: So I showed Hawkgirl to my husband: “What do you think of her?” He said: “First she blinds them with her boobs, then she attacks!”

Basically, he thinks she’s fine as long as she’s one of many, diversity is key. He reminded me of a castle the girls had filled with all kinds of magical creatures. Barbie was there, but she was just one of so many different figures. I think I agree. So at this point, it looks like Hawgirl will make it under the tree. I’ll update you on the post-Xmas reaction.

The good, the bad, and the ugly: Catwoman’s ass vs Merida

I’ve had an amazing three weeks writing my Middle Grade book. The break from blogging has been productive but painful. I love to blog! What did I miss?

Lots! I could blog for hours, but because I’m still in Fairyland mode (and need to stay there) I’m going to cut it down to a low point and a high point:

Have you seen DC Comic’s new Catwoman cover? (Via GeekMom)

How can Catwoman fight anyone with her ass in the air like that?

This Catwoman cover is reminiscent of artist Kevin Bolk’s spoof on “The Avengers” if the males posed like the female. Notice the plural and singular nouns there. I posted Bolk’s art on my blog a few weeks ago. Here’s the picture again:

The good news is my post of Bolk’s art got about 400 shares. Maybe the sexism is becoming more obvious to people? Though how could it not?

What fascinates me about the ass-female-superhero-obsession is that that unlike breasts, every human has an ass. Therefore the argument– ridiculous anyway– that men’s and women’s bodies are different and that’s the only reason why women get so sexualized– doesn’t hold here.

It’s pathetically ironic too that these heroes are supposed to be fighting for justice. I guess, as with so many advocates for freedom– including Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and JFK– gender equality isn’t high on the list.

On a positive note, I LOVE seeing the pictures of Merida all over San Francisco! I have bought several “Brave” books already, and to those of you who think kids aren’t influenced by media imagery, I found my eight year old making a series of drawings. Here’s one of my favorites:

Remember, art creates reality and reality creates art in an endless loop. Phases aren’t outgrown, they mutate. So, please take your kids to this movie starring a powerful female. Take your sons and daughters! See it twice. I hope this film makes money. I’ll be out of the country when it comes out but it’s first on my to do list when I get back.

One more blog coming on Erica Jong’s book Sugar in My Bowl.

Hope you are having a great summer and please keep using my FB page to post and comment.


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