The Washington Post

NO MERIDA MAKEOVER? ‘Brave’ director Brenda Chapman on Disney princess and ‘sexing her up’

WILL THEY or won’t they?

Disney announced this month that Merida, the strong and spirited archer from Pixar’s “Brave,” was entering its “princess collection.” But the Merida Makeover swiftly made Disney the target of criticism.

Disney, after being upbraided for sexualizing young Merida — and accused of de-emphasizing her strength — reportedlly said this week it was changing course with the makeover and reverting to Merida’s original form. And yet — speaking of targets — you can still find images of the Made-Over Merida on Target’s website.

The original Merida. (courtesy of DISNEY 2013 /.)

“As far as the Disney makeover, I was incredibly disappointed and frustrated, but not surprised,” Chapman tells Comic Riffs. “I do hope that Disney will correct it... . They have taken the images off of their Web site here in the States, but they are still up in other countries... so I’m dubious.”

Although Disney distributes Pixar films — and John Lasseter heads up animation for both studios — Chapman (who since “Brave’s” release has moved on to LucasArts) emphasizes the differences between Pixar and Disney.

“I thought ‘typical,’ when I first saw the artwork,” Chapman tells Comic Riffs. “So wrong-minded, [especially] when the Pixar crew and myself worked so hard to give them a completely different kind of princess — one that kids and parents today can relate to in many different ways. And Disney turned her back into the same old thing, taking away her symbol of strength and individuality, her bow and arrow, and sexing her up. Not cool.”

Many Merida fans felt a similar disappointment and disgust. More than 220,000 supporters have signed the petition “Say No to the Merida Makover.”. That response has pleased Chapman.

“I was blindsided by the overwhelming response to this issue,” Chapman tells ‘Riffs, “which is quite nice.”

The new Merida. (courtesy of DISNEY 2013 /.)

Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.
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