Can There Ever Be A Female Hero?
Not if you are watching a Disney movie
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 26, 2012 04:10
When Pixar’s Brave came out, critics touted the movie as a breaking through a glass ceiling with the first female protagonist in a Pixar movie. Despite Disney’s common treatment of princesses—waifs-in-waiting always looking for love as an escape—the world was enthralled with Merida, the fiery young girl who goes on an adventure that involves all the stereotypical tropes of a Disney movie: magic, witches, trouble with parents, and love.
But as these critics swooned over the concept of Merida, they neglected to realize that this character, in spite of their wishes, was not a hero at all. The archetypal hero follows a fairly specific plot. The hero encounters a call to action, some trials, a pretty tough challenge, and a grand return with something to bestow upon the common people. This concept has been consistent for thousands of years in literature. It is, quite literally, the hero’s tale.
If we look at Merida, we don’t see this at all. Her call to adventure is a mere adolescent screw up. While it’s magical and interesting, by no means makes a hero. It’s more of a coming-of-age story, which would make me say that it’s nice to have a female coming-of-age story finally. But it’s not the female hero.
Let’s broaden the conversation and bring in Katniss from the Hunger Games. She’s big in the “female hero” world right now. While she is undoubtedly a strong woman, she is used as the prize and an object. Peeta is the real winner of the hunger games, as he “wins” Katniss she has to pretend to love him. In later books, she is quite literally objectified, but I won’t spoil those until the movies come out.
While I’m hoping that someday there can be a female hero—a true hero, who fits the archetype and fits in as a role model to young girls—it's safe to say that the world hasn't seen one just yet. Ladies, if we want a strong female to look up to, it’s looking like we have to be the ones to make her.