Guest Post by Andrew Payne, Student at Southern Evangelical Seminary.
This is me being a curmudgeon about the new Pixar movie, Brave. So first, it would be profitable to turn to the dictionary to define exactly that which I am going to be while writing this note:
Curmudgeon: a cantankerous person (…uh?)
Cantankerous: an ill tempered and quarrelsome curmudgeon (…sheesh)
Brave: features a myriad of creative and endlessly fun characters to watch and be amused by. The story will draw the audience into it in such a way that we laugh when it wants us to laugh, we cry when it wants us to cry, and we sigh when it wants us to sigh. On top of all of that, there is a fantastic Americanized Celtic symphonic score. In short: it is a very well done film. There. I said it. Now, the rest of this palaveric posting is going to contain plot spoilers and grumpy, condemning speech. Be thee warned.
The story of Brave features a young princess who longs to make her own fate; to be free to live her life the way she wants to live it. Needless to say, her mother has other plans in mind for her. She wants her princess/daughter to do what princesses do and conform to this perfect image of what society demands she be.
The conflict is escalated to truly hyperbolic ends as the mother is turned into a bear by the daughter’s selfishness. The ensuing adventure finds the mother learning the truly usefulness of all the skills that her daughter has acquired, and her daughter realizing that her mother, though still misguided as to what is best for her, is truly acting out of love. The torn bond between mother and daughter is mended (literally and metaphorically), and the kingdom is restored. Mother and daughter ride off tomboyishly into the sunset. Everyone ends up happy and everybody gets exactly what they want.
The daughter did not change a cotton picking bit. True, she loves her mother now, but that is only because her mother realized that her daughter had been right all along. Thus the message becomes: parents pridefully seek to impose their wills over that of their children, who really know what’s best for themselves. What did the mother really want for her daughter? She wanted her to mature into a woman. Maturity does not mean letting the world come and bow before you, conforming itself to all of your desires and wishes. That is the definition of the mentality of a spoiled brat. Maturity means just the opposite! It means putting away childish things and instead investing yourself in things of meaning beyond yourself. The message espoused by this film is that of: become the equivalent of a spoiled brat and the world will come to realize that you are the best spoiled brat that it has ever seen! This is NOT a message that needs to be floating around in the heads of young kids – especially in the crazy world we live in now.
But does this really work? No…emphatically no! Let us refer back to the book of Judges. It opens up with the line that “in those days there was no King in Israel and everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” News flash: Hitler was following his heart. So was Mao. Was that a good idea?
Ironically, inside the “America” building in EPCOT, there is a quote on the wall where Walt Disney states that the most valuable commodity of the nation are the minds of its children. What they are to become is what will shape the future. I realize that I am being a curmudgeon, but this is a message now being promulgated by Pixar, our last best hope of something better for the youth. And the youth deserve something better.
More on Andrew Payne:
Andrew is a philosophy major at Southern Evangelical Seminary http://www.ses.edu/. He enjoys pontificating on the finer moralistic and action points in the TV series 24, and analyzing the economic downfall of western civilization, and doing it all with either a fake English or Irish accent as the case may be. Occasionally, he switches to Chinese. He’s not discriminatory. If you want to hear a Swahili accent, I’m sure he’d try.
As he does not have a Twitter account, you cannot follow him…if you follow him anyway, that could get creepy.
Thanks for guesting, Andrew!