The Internet rarely makes me angry. I feel like I’ve seen it all by now. Insane racism, extreme homophobia, rampant ignorance, misspelled death threats. Nothing shocks me. Seriously, NSFW might as well mean LOL here at the Crushable offices. They’re both archaic notions that have no relevance in my life. So that’s why when something I read online does actually manage to piss me off, I feel compelled to write a response. Using only emoticons. But apparently people don’t read emoti-rants and therefore, all my efforts to express myself via various frustrated/angry/confused yellow faces would be a waste. So I must type out my feelings using words.
This weekend Entertainment Weekly, a publication/website I usually respect, wrote an article titled, “Could the Heroine of Pixar’s Brave be Gay?” In honor of pride weekend. When I saw the title, I hesitantly clicked on it. Maybe, I thought, just maybe I’m about to read a wonderfully satircial essay about lesbian stereotypes and the overanalysis of childrens’ films. But no. Instead of breaking any new ground, it just retread on tired cliches about lesbian behavior.
Adam Markowitz kicks off his essay by asserting that Merida’s not an “overtly lesbian character” and Pixar did not promote her as one. And then goes on to write the most ridiculous review of Brave that you’ll read anywhere on the internet.
But could Merida be gay? Absolutely. 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).
So let’s go over this. Because Merida doesn’t want to participate in her arranged marriage and because she like sports, she’s a lesbian. Parents all over the country with teenage daughters who don’t want to get married because it interferes with their high school sports practice schedule should just join PFLAG right now. Their daughters are all gay. It’s a shame right. Unless, and this is a big unless, unless their daugthers are openly swooning over boys and carving their names into their arms. Then there might be hope. Otherwise, gay, gay, gay, gay gay.
Katniss Everdeen levels of lesbianity. Oh she’s a lesbian too according to this criteria. Think about it. Archery, an aversion to kissing a boy for the sake of others’ happiness, ARCHERY!!!
Of course Adam’s not trying to be offensive. He thinks that this might actually be a wonderful secret message for all LGBT kids who feel a little different. After all, they’ll identify with the girl who’s “not like the other kids” growing up. Unless they’re LGBT youth who don’t fall neatly into preconceived notions about what gay boys and lesbian girls do. Then they’ll just be like, ” I thought I was a lesbian. Until I noticed all the girly clothing I wear. And now I’m thinking I might be straight.”
While I would gladly cheer on a children’s film that nonchalantly celebrates an openly gay character, Merida’s not a lesbian. Not even a hidden lesbian with a secret Pixar pride weekend agenda. She’s an independent female protagonist who wants people to see her an individual with her own wishes, hopes, dreams, thoughts and aspirations. But clearly, Adam Markowitz, missed that entire lesson. Which is understandable when you’re watching a children’s film with the goal of outing an animated character.