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California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

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Pixar’s Next Protagonist Presents Stronger Role Model for Young Girls

After a string of 12 male-dominated hits, Pixar’s “Brave” marks the first female protagonist for Disney/Pixar production.

Unlike one of Disney’s first female protagonist ventures “Mulan,” whose main writers were all men, “Brave” is written and directed by mostly women, giving it a bit more credibility.

Merida — the film’s main protagonist — is an ancient princess made for the 21st century with wild red curls and a bow and arrow in hand.

Like many Disney films it’s also a fairy tale, but more importantly it’s the first time Pixar has taken on that task.

Larger roles and leads for women in Hollywood is something that has been fought towards for years, and Pixar’s “Brave” is a step in the right direction — not just for the film industry or women but for the country.

Women make up more then 50 percent of the world, however, they continue to be grossly underrepresented in film, animation or not, and when they are it’s often in weak or in supporting roles.

Women, little girls in particular, need strong, independent and driven characters to look up to, and hopefully Merida will be the catalyst to that change.

“We don’t do things by formula or checklist here,” said “Brave” producer Katherine Sarafian to the San Francisco Chronicle regarding why it has taken so long to feature a female protagonist.

“It’s really all about timing. Six years ago, Brenda Chapman pitched an idea to our brain trust, and that idea was based on her relationship with her daughter, who was six at the time. She was wondering what this kid was going to be like when she was a teenager, and so Merida, this spirited girl, came out of a filmmaker’s mind. It was the alignment of the right time and the right idea.”

Traditionally, female protagonists in the 90s and early 2000s were weak and still relied on the “knight in shining armor” to come and rescue her.

Many of us grew up with Disney films like “The Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin,” where the women were scantily clad seductresses and needed the strong male character to come rescue her from the bad guys.

Instead, my mother and father turned to women athletes and women in my family to give me females I could look up to. That shouldn’t have to be the case.

Boys have a number of male characters they can look up to and emulate in film, but that’s just not the case for girls.

Even more recent films like “Mulan,” where Disney attempted to have a strong female character were botched in that she still relied on men to achieve her ultimate goal.

However, “Brave” seemingly tries to venture away from that and present today’s little girls with a character they can look up to and admire without all the frills and hidden messages of Disney’s past films.

“I think when people think about a girl as a hero, they think less strong, less brave,” said associate producer Mary Alice Drumm. “But Merida is brave like her father and brave like her mother. She’s a very relatable person, and I think people are going to have some interesting things to talk about after they see the movie.”

While it remains to be seen whether “Brave” and Merida will be something and someone young girls can look up to, the future looks bright as one of the world’s biggest movie production companies has finally taken on a female lead character.

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Pixar’s Next Protagonist Presents Stronger Role Model for Young Girls