On the subject of the movie brave
because I have nothing better to do besides procrastinate
so I was looking around today and saw a few strange complaints about the movie, most notably being that it “it’s all white people” and “100% crackerlicious crackers” (direct quotes taken from tumblr, not my phrasing) which is true! the cast is predominantly white. however, the reason why I found this complaint strange is because the movie is set in medieval Scotland, at a point when migration towards that particular part of the world wasn’t very strong and, as a result, there was one predominant ethnicity present - Scottish. White people!
While I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with wanting stronger public representation for racial minorities, or any minorities really, (opposite actually!), and critiquing media that exploits racial minorities at the expense of the characters/story is a big part of progression in contemporary society, critiquing a story because it is set in a time and place where the main race was white is strange. I’ve seen a lot of complaints from the sources I’ve quoted above wishing that Disney, for example, would twist their fairy tale stories to accomodate a broader cast of characters. Again, there’s nothing wrong with this - I thought Princess and the Frog was an interesting, original take on the story and it was pretty refreshing to have a new setting.
However, I do take issue with the fact that people seem to
- want this (completed) movie changed to represent characters besides Scots
- want the entire setting of the movie changed to accomodate this change
- want the characters completely changed as well
and at this point, is it really the same story anymore? I think there’s a little bit of a difference between wanting a fresh take on a pre-existing story, like Princess and the Frog, and wanting a complete rehaul of an original story that does not necessarily adhere to any pre-existing tales. A rehaul of an original story is simply a different story. That’s why twists on things like Princess and the Frog are refreshing - they’re new and different.
Does setting a movie in a time period and location where there’s one specific race present make the story and characters racist? Or are the movie’s creators trying to pick a setting where their story works best? And if you have ideas for ways to change the story, in ways that make the story completely different, are you best served critiquing this movie
(that you haven’t seen yet) against your ideas? At that point, and please don’t take this as me saying “if you can make it better WHY DON’T YOU”, when you have an entirely new idea, and a new take on a story, maybe it’s time to put that story into action! A lot of really great stories have come about because the creator was trying to implement their own critique of pre-existing stories into action, and who’s to say you couldn’t make one of those stories?
in conclusion, I just used the phrase “crackerlicious” in writing and it was a little weird
I understand complaints about all white casts in Medieval Europe, because there was a lot of trade there and lots of different ethnicities were mingling! Making everyone super white is unrealistic.
In comparison though, Pretania was relatively isolated. There is indication of heavy trade with the Greeks and Phoenicians, but trade seems to be all it was. When the Romans showed up, they described the Celts as “…a race of tall, fair-haired warriors, strong and agile, easily provoked to battle, boastful before combat like the Homeric heroes and terrifying in their battle rage.” There’s little to indicate that ethnic diversity encompassed anything more than the four different Celtic groups (Picts, Gaels, Britons and Angles), only one of which was described as looking significantly different than the others.
There was more of an influx of different races during the Roman era—in fact, DNA testing has shown some modern Scots to be of mixed African descent, which historians speculate may have occurred either during the building of Hadrian’s Wall, or from marriages between high-ranking African slaves or freedmen and the native Celts. However, Hadrian’s Wall was built for a reason, and a lot of that reason was because the Celts were so opposed to any kind of integration or subjugation that the Romans got fed up trying to wrangle them and shoved them all up into Scotland. They were not a people who supported the melting pot idea, is what I’m saying here.
So while having traders or other individuals of different ethnicities present in Brave wouldn’t have been farfetched in the least, there’s not going to be the kind of ethnic diversity you’d find in Rome or medieval Europe or even medieval England, because medieval Scotland was pretty much pissed off at the world and fighting to keep their own heritage.
Had Brave been set in modern-day Scotland, then yes, there ought to be more ethnic diversity. Hell, if it was about the Scottish guys who worked at the docks, or a Scottish farrier who works at a busy city, you’d see lots of different skin colors. But a movie about Scottish nobility is going to be pretty pasty.
If your people are rarely represented by media, you’re gonna get pretty pissed and apathetic about the long parade of white movies.
That’s pretty much the complaint.
That’s my complaint.
Plus the structural racism that’s been in place for centuries that makes it hard for POC to join and thrive in the entertainment industry compared to whites… and so overwhelmingly the directors and writers are white (and male).
So yeah. A bunch of white people run Pixar and Disney… and they continue to make white films. And Princess and the Frog has its problems too. Not a perfect movie with regards to representation by a long shot. Just look up “racism in Princess and the Frog.”
My problem isn’t necessarily with Brave itself as it stands alone but how it stands in the long line of white movies, and the small proportion of movies led by female protagonists that almost always are about “how being a girl is hard” instead of “here’s awesome things that characters who happen to be girls are capable of”.
But when I mention any of the above (whether directly or indirectly), I’ve recently had lots of people telling me to STFU and accept the good graces of Pixar for granting me with a female-led movie. Racist and sexist much?
I really agree with everything said here, by both sides of the debate. Yes, black people and other ethnicities in Scotland in the time period portrayed would be unrealistic. However, it is equally unrealistic that in the vast majority of characters presented to us by Disney, Pixar, and Dreamworks, that they all happen to be white.
So both sides, I’d say, are right.
I think it’s silly to think about skin color in relation to movies. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not what’s important. Movies are about people, and the color of their skin shouldn’t hinder your view of the movie of your love of the story, unless the viewpoint it takes on those people is rude.
While many classic Disney movies do have white cast members, it’s not very nice to assume that the people who work on Disney films have racist thoughts on their minds just because they’re predominantly white. I realize that there are some irrational people out there who are like that, but it doesn’t seem to me like those people would be the ones to get a job at Disney working on childrens’ movies.
If anything, I’d say it’s almost the opposite. Animators aren’t worried about representing every single race in their movies, because that isn’t what’s important. The story, the character development, and the message of the story are. If race is relevant to that, so be it!
“If your people are rarely represented by media, you’re gonna get pretty pissed and apathetic about the long parade of white movies.”
This is a mindset that I understand, but that I don’t like. This mindset is racist. I understand wanting to have people of minorities in movies, and it’s great when they are! But if we really don’t want racism to exist anymore… people need to stop thinking of things in terms of race, even if they aren’t necessarily in negative ways.
In a similar way, people need to stop looking at Brave as another film about a girl who defies social norms, and start looking at it as a film about a person who chooses their own fate. It is about a PERSON who happens to be female, and who is an interesting character because of the things she has to overcome.
Your beliefs are wrong and you are wrong and obviously white and have never thought critically about this issue, so please never talk about this again.
It is not silly to think about how people who are not white are being screwed over in the media, and in meat-space. You’re wrong.
Jesus. Fucking. Christ.
Dear fellow member of white privilege:
No, you’re not a bad person. You’re not “a racist” - that mythological creature (not actually so mythical) we pat ourselves on the back for not being (you know, the one who uses racial slurs, who thinks the KKK had the right idea about things, who complains about immigrants [haha, oh hypocrisy, fuck you], who wants POC to “go back where they came from”). That’s not you. Probably (I don’t know you so you could be, but probably aren’t. We’ll be optimistic). So you’re a good person. You think people are people, and you like to think the best of people.
But you are perpetuating ideologies that support systematic, institutionalized, pervasive, invisible racism. Well, I say invisible - invisible to anyone with the privilege of being reflected, in every place, in every way, in every aspect of life, as part of the norm.
You have the privilege (and yes, it is a privilege) of saying “Animators aren’t worried about representing every single race in their movies, because that isn’t what’s important." because people who look like you, who share your history, your culture, your stories, and often your ideologies, show up in every media genre from the United States to Canada (and the UK too).
It is absurdly easy to say things are OK, people are people, when you don’t keenly feel the lack of your own representation.
That lack hurts.
That lack, is the reason many, many, many women are excited about Brave. Finally. Finally a Pixar leading lady. (We trust Pixar. Pixar tells good stories. Pixar is creative and artistic and brilliant. Pixar gave us EVE and Helen and Edna and Dory and Colette.)
That lack is the very same reason for some of the backlash against Brave (Princess? Why is she a princess!? Is Pixar so old, white, cis-male that they cannot tell a woman’s story without falling back on tired old archetypes? What about Russel and Carl Fredricksen and WALL-E and EVE and Woody and Buzz and Boo and Flik and Remy and Marlin and Dory - why can’t Pixar tell us a shiny, bright, strange, wonderful, new story with a girl main character. Where are the old ladies and the middle aged ladies and the young ladies who are people. People, not token feel-good, free-the-oppressed-women old archetypes. And, yes: where are the unconventional Women of Colour. Who don’t play second fiddle to anyone.)
Women - and men - of colour deserve and need to see themselves reflected in the stories told by our media as much as white women and men. Because these stories reflect and shape our culture. And it fucking sucks to be erased or invisible in these stories, because that says there is no room for you in our culture.
tldr: there are monumental historical and social implications happening in the background, and nothing in media exists in a vacuum, or without impact. Please, please please please, do some reading on the internet and learn about these issues.
If you would like resources, I am more than happy to point you in the direction of some. It is not easy reading, or particularly comfortable. Unpacking your privilege is often very fucking uncomfortable. But I believe walking that road makes you a better person.