For reasons I don't quite understand, film viewers and reviews have instantly begun equating the lack of a prince and Merida (the main character)'s lack of desire to marry with her sexual orientation. This article does a really good job of discussing why this is just silly, but I do want to dwell on it a bit further. Why does not wanting to get married equate with being gay? I guess if we're still saying marriage is strictly between a man and a woman (which if this is your precursor, then you've already lost me), then that's were this line of thought must be coming from, because otherwise it makes no sense. I know many lesbians who absolutely 100% want to get married - just not to a man. No where does the film Merida suggest that she doesn't want to marry a man; but it's also not that she couldn't be a lesbian. It's just that because she doesn't want to get married and she likes shooting arrows and riding horses and she's a bit of a "tomboy" that suddenly "oh my God, she's gay." The logic doesn't follow, it's a huge assumption (about gender norms, among other things), and what does it matter? It's not about her romantic relationships. Brave is a movie entirely about mother/daughter relations. And this is where the focus should be.
Another thing I loved about this movie was Merida. She's quirky, she's funny, she's a ginger (ginger princess for the win!) I've been pondering ideas of "strong female characters" here recently and stumbled across this post on Tumblr about it. I absolutely love this post; what it says is so accurate. Too often we either group women into damsels in distress or ass-kicking action heroes. The problem is that both of these groups are just 2-D facades when what we really need are human women; not specifically strong women. We shouldn't have to classify characters separately if they're strong, but we do because they seem so exceedingly rare. What I like about Merida is that she is strong - physically and mentally - but she gets upset, makes mistakes, and shows her weaknesses as much as her strengths. She might be the most three-dimensional Disney character I have ever encountered and she isn't strong so much as she's human. I wish this movie could have come out when I was little - I feel like being exposed to a character like this when I was younger would have greatly changed my experiences and my perspective on the world for the better. Also, I would have been utterly obsessed with her (and her hair. I totally love the hair - but remarking upon this, I love that their is very little mention of appearances in this movie. So much of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast - while I enjoy these films - are on looks and beauty. The only mention of appearances is in reference to Merida having to look courtly - which she loathes. God is it nice to have a princess whose not stereotypically pretty and whose looks are barely mentioned).
So, is this my favorite Disney movie ever? Yep. Yes it is. :D