Gone are the wild tight curls, relaxed now into auburn waves. Her waist is cinched, her bust inflated: skinnier and sexier is the new Merida, star of Brave. And gone, in some of the new art, is that troublesome weapon: no fit thing for a Disney princess, after all. Fans and websites lamenting the changes, chief among them A Mighty Girl, have spearheaded a change.org petition seeking to convince Disney to change its mind.
The redesign of Merida in advance of her official induction to the Disney Princess collection does a tremendous disservice to the millions of children for whom Merida is an empowering role model … In an interview with Pixar Portal, "Brave" writer and co-director Brenda Chapman stated, "Because of marketing, little girls gravitate toward princess products, so my goal was to offer up a different kind of princess — a stronger princess that both mothers and daughters could relate to, so mothers wouldn't be pulling their hair out when their little girls were trying to dress or act like this princess. Instead they'd be like, 'Yeah, you go girl!'"
There seems a deliciously vile bait-and-switch element to it all: design a character that will attract parents resistant to the traditional messaging, then recast it in same old mold once they've sold it to their daughters for you.
But you can see the problem in that Chapman quote, which is never really about the character. When "marketing" is the first principle of your art, even something opposing its dictates is doomed to gravitate around it in fast-decaying orbit.