A Comparison of Merida and Rapunzel

Guess which one scares me more?

It struck me there just last week that we’ve seen two major princess movies from the Disney umbrella in the last few years, although despite claims that we’ll see no more, one is already well under way. So I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the two already released to see just how different, or similar they are. The two in question are of course Merida from Pixar’s Brave and Rapunzel from Walt Disney’s Tangled.

For starters, they’re both teenagers. Yes, every adults favourite people to hate and for good reason. Teenagers tend to be obnoxious, whiny, annoying, conniving, rude, clumsy and above all, rebellious. Both Rapunzel and Merida imbue all these qualities ans more in their respective films. Merida directly disobeys her mother as does Rapunzel.

Both seem to have issues with issues with the life that is set out for them. Merida as a wife to an eejit and Rapunzel as an everlasting source of life for Mother Goethal. Neither is satisfied and both disobey the requisite adult. However, that is where the similarity ends, as Merida dashes off into the woods, her mother is fully aware that she has left. Rapunzel, in contrast, sneakily knows that her mother is gone and is more than willing to head off without her knowledge. Rapunzel is clearly the fuller character in this case.

Both characters coincidentally have wild hair, but whereas Rapunzel’s is a plot device, Merida’s is more of a set piece that is played up multiple times throughout the film. It’s fair to say that while Rapunzel’s hair adds to her character, Merida’s can’t help but distract the viewer, as was the case when it was highlighted in just about every single review of the film.

Both princesses are strong female characters 9the kind we all know and love) but Merida is undoubtedly the lesser of the two. The reasons here are complicated, but the long and winding gestation and execution of Brave are probably the root cause. In Tangled, Rapunzel’s character evolves throughout the film. She has to learn to trust Flynn Rider Eugene Fitzherbet (a good ol’ Irish surname there) and only by going through her experiences does she learn the truth about her past.

Merida on the other hand is very much presented as is. Yes, she does learn a lesson in the course of the film, but that doesn’t change her character. She’s still fundamentally the same person at the beginning as she is at the end. We learn (comparatively) little about her. A rather disappointing state of affairs given the wonderful setup we’re given (ancient Scotland and all that).

The princesses approach to love is also drastically different. Rapunzel is more than happy to comply with the established Disney norms; Merida, not so much. It should be noted that neither approach is right or wrong but in Tangled, love is clearly meant to imply marriage whereas in Brave, marriage does not necessarily imply love; an important distinction but one that tends to go against the formula for princess movies.

Overall, both are likeable character that despite their teenage label have mass appeal beyond the kids. It’s curious how different the two characters are despite Pixar’s attempt to make Brave a different kind of film. In the end though, we should be grateful that both films give the characters enough room for them to come into their own.

 

Grading the Disney Princess Magazine Covers Part 4

Continuing out look at a series of magazine covers featuring the Disney princesses as created by the Petite Tiaras tumblelog, (previously parts 1, 2 and 3), we’re onto the final post.

Tiana in Vanity Fair

Yet another one by Conde Nast, Vanity Fair describes itself as:

a cultural filter, igniting the global conversation about the people and ideas that matter most. With a dedication to journalistic excellence, brilliant photography, and powerful storytelling, Vanity Fair is the first choice and often the only choice for the world’s most influential and important audience. From print to the social stream, big screen to smartphone, Vanity Fair is the essential arbiter of our times.

So VF basically proclaims that it’s the best magazine in the world. End of story. Although is Tiana the right character to grace the cover?

Perhaps focusing in on the “igniting the conversation” part of the description, Tiana herself was stirring debate long before she made it to the big screen. Notable for being the first African-American “Disney Princess”, there was much debate about how the character would turn out, and whether it was simply corporate pandering for the sake of political correctness.

All that was dispersed when the film was released, and although it didn’t light the box office on fire, Tiana was praised as a character with much integrity.

Overall, it’s a B+

Rapunzel in Teen Vogue

Although we’ve already covered Vogue, Rapunzel gets a turn in Teen Vogue:

Influence Starts Here. This simple mandate sets Teen Vogue apart. Style-conscious girls everywhere know there’s only one source for relevant fashion, beauty, and entertainment news communicated in a sophisticated tone with the power of the Vogue brand.

Confused? It’s basically marketing speak for “hook ’em when they’re young”.

Compared to Snow White, Rapunzel makes a much more appropriate character for Vogue simply because she is much closer the typical teenager of today, and as a result fits right into Teen Vogue’s target demographic.

Right from the off, it’s clear that the pink is very apt, even if the film itself used lavender instead. All of the stories seem appropriate too.

Overall: A-

Megara in Marie Claire

This magazine bills itself as:

…a compelling media destination that combines provocative features and outstanding fashion to inspire every woman who wants to think smart and look amazing.

That’s probably a bit brief, but I did have to grab it from the Facebook page.

This is perhaps the blandest cover of the lot, but that’s because Megara a a character is quite unique from the others. She’s a bit of an anti-hero in many ways and that makes any “stories” that would be relevant to her not ideal to the front of a women’s magazine.

Other than that, I think style-wise, her own unique style is something that would probably better suited to Harper’s Bazaar or even Jalouse.

So point’s for effort, but ultimately, this cover gets a B- but only because Megara herself is a tricky character to place.

Disney Deals To Brides!?

Most companies ignore the Immutable Law of Brand Extension and Disney is no exception. No market is ever too obscure or far-fetched to extend your brand into if there is money to be made in it, and how could a company stand by while so much hard earned cash is carelessly thrown away in a market sector it doesn’t have a toe-hold in? The answer is, get in there and grab a share!

The result is Disney Bridal (yes, really), a collaboration between Alfred Angelo (who?) of Philadelphia, PA and the Walt Disney Company of Burbank, CA. Let’s start with some choice quotes from the press release:

Dreams do come true, especially for women who grew up dreaming of a fairy tale wedding modeled after their favorite Disney Princess character……..the bridal gown collection is inspired by the essence, style and personality of seven iconic Disney Princess characters: Ariel, Aurora/Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Snow White and Tiana.

 

“This collaboration is a wonderful testament of two long-standing, established and respected industry leaders…the magic and storytelling heritage of Disney and the internationally renowned bridal fashion of Alfred Angelo”

 

“Every bride wants to be a princess on her wedding day, and through this collaboration with bridal fashion experts Alfred Angelo, we can now extend the reach of the Disney Fairy Tale Weddings brand and make beautiful Disney Princess-inspired gowns accessible to all brides at a broad retail distribution and affordable prices,” says Pam Lifford, executive vice president, global fashion and home, Disney Consumer Products.

 

Michael sought to capture every girl’s fantasy of feeling like a princess on her wedding day, while being inspired by the magic and identity of each Disney Princess.

So, there is plenty of the usual huff and puff you’d find in the press release. But how about the dresses themselves? Let’s have a peek, along with the descriptions for each.

Aerial

The treasures of the sea inspired Ariel’s gown. The mermaid silhouette features re-embroidered lace, pearl beading, and sequin sparkles.

Sleeping Beauty/Aurora

 Aurora/Sleeping Beauty’s gown is romantic with a dreamy, willowy skirt for this slumbering princess.

Belle

 Belle’s wedding dress, with a draped waistline is inspired by the iconic ballroom dance scene from the film and focuses on making a grand entrance.

Cinderalla

Cinderella’s gown radiates with sparkle as its inspiration is the fairy tale’s enchanted glass slipper.

Yes, but does it include a glass slipper as part of the outfit? If not, I’d feel cheated.

Jasmine

Jasmine’s wedding dress conveys freedom and individuality and as a result her shimmering soft satin gown is exotic with a bejeweled neckline and low cut back.

Snow White

Snow White’s dress is inspired by nature, beauty and grace like the Disney Princess character herself.

Tiana

The regal, one-shoulder taffeta gown for our newest princess, Tiana, reflects her independent spirit with an asymmetric bodice and ruched skirt.

BUT WAIT!

All-new for 2011 and just in time for the fabulous (and coincidentally timely) release of the hilarious Disney classic, Tangled, comes this latest addition to the collection!

Rapunzel

Yup, when it comes to Rapunzel, I’m sure not thinking so much about how inspired the dress is as much as I am how the bride’s hair will never live up to the fairytale image.

So there you go. The dresses range in price from a lot to a very lot and naturally have all the uniqueness that a Dow Jones company like Disney is renowned for. Being a guy with no fashion sense, I am nonetheless confident in saying that these dresses use the term “inspired” in the loosest way possible.

I’m sure even Disney knows that real inspiration for clothing like this comes from the character’s clothes more than anything else.

Thankfully, my fiancée saw right through the whole thing (she came up with the title of this post) as soon as she saw the ad in the Knot magazine. Head on over to her blog see why she won’t be getting one of these dresses.