Disney sure hit a nerve when it attempted a "makeover" of the rough, bow-wielding Merida character from the cartoon movie Brave into a glossy princess fit for marketing. A Change.org petition quickly drew more than 200,000 signatures last week from parents and others asking that Disney leave the inspirational Merida character just as she was in the movie -- disheveled hair and all. It was interesting to see comment after comment on the petition site from a Minnesotans.
Tim Kirby of St. Paul: "Stupid. Crass. What is wrong with your marketing people? Are you not listening to your audience? You got her right so you're going back to spoil her? Like my daughter needs yet another unrealistic body image. Dumb, guys. Really dumb. Way to lose our dollar."
Lisa Cawthra of Ramsey: "Merida is the only princess my tough little daughter likes! She likes her just the way she is in the movie."
Michelle Beddor of Chanhassen: "I'm female and I have young nieces and nephews and I want them all to see girl characters valued for who they are, not what they look like. This change in Merida's appearance to a sexy, skinny, mature princess is more of the same old message. Give us this one, for goodness's sake. We value her just like she is. Same with our girls! Support them."
It's not giving away the movie to say that movie Merida is a free-spirited princess resisting the destiny that tradition and her mother have laid out in front of her. Her independence obviously appealed to a lot of kids, and parents worried these days about the hyping of beauty and sexualization in the media.
Jessica Banks of St. Paul: "There's no need to sexualize a strong, young, active role model. Instead of making Merida fit the princess model, maybe Disney should change the princess model to fit girls like Merida."
Hard to say whether the petition made a difference, but it no doubt gained steam when the writer and co-director of Brave publicly expressed her concerns about the re-design of her character.
Petition organizers and others claimed that Disney removed the new Merida images from its web site. But Disney officials shrugged off criticism, saying that makeover Merida was just for a limited run of products and marketing materials and that the original girl was always in their plans.