You are here: home   Blogs   The Range Blog   Disney's Unlikely Heroine: The Huntress
The Range Blog

Disney's Unlikely Heroine: The Huntress

Document Actions
Tip Jar Donation

Your donation supports independent non-profit journalism from High Country News.

Ben Long | Jul 18, 2012 06:00 AM

For decades, Disney cartoons have reliably produced two stereotypes: brutish, cruel hunters and dizzy, passive princesses.  But, holy daughters of Diana, times have changed.

 

Maybe Disney’s anti-hunter bias is just the natural result of having a cast full of talking animals. But think about it: there’s Clayton, the evil hunter who nets Tarzan’s family of apes; there’s Gaston, the arrogant brute after the Belle in Beauty & the Beast; there’s Bugs Bunny’s nemesis Elmer Fudd. (OK, that last one is Warner Bros., but you get the idea.) Most notorious is the invisible hunter who kills Bambi’s mother, burns down the forest and set back public tolerance for deer culls and prescribed burns for generations.

But that was then. Have you seen the Disney-Pixar movie, Brave? If not, do. If you don’t have kids, borrow some. It’s a gas.

And the heroine, Merida, is more than just a pretty head of hair. She’s a cross between Annie Oakley, Howard Hill and Rob Roy.

She rides horses! She has a falcon! She shoots arrows! (With excellent form.) She stands up to angry bears! She endures disapproving mothers and oppressive social norms! (“Princesses shouldn’t have weapons, in my opinion, ” says the Queen Mother.)

Truth is, we hunters probably deserve whatever reputation we have. It’s easy Hollywood shorthand to throw a deer head on a set wall when a director wants to say “this character is a redneck idiot.” But hunters’ real-world behavior is what makes their reputation, for better or worse.

Still, in this overly urbanized world, I had to smile at Brave’s expression of elan for the outdoor life. One scene, young Merida must survive in the woods with her loving, but overbearing, mother. Hungry, Merida shoots a salmon out of a spawning stream, presenting the fish still quivering on the shaft to her mother.

It was … touching. Like a Mother’s Day special of MeatEater.  Hurray for Merida. Hurray for Brave and for Pixar’s screenwriter Brenda Chapman. They’ve come up with something new and delightful.

Essays in the Range blog are not written by High Country News. The authors are solely responsible for their content.

Ben Long is an author, outdoorsman and conservationist in Kalispell, Mont. He is senior program director for Resource Media and father to a boy who loves all things Disney.

Email Newsletter

The West in your Inbox

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Follow our RSS feeds!
  1. Rancher vs BLM: a 20-year standoff ends with tense roundup |
  2. Photos of a standoff | Armed militia members join a Nevada rancher to pro...
  3. After the standoff, what's next for Bundy and BLM? |
  4. The energy haves and have-nots | Will rooftop solar owners get off the grid — and...
  5. Why homes are lost to wildfire | This Forest Service expert says it's as much a soc...
  1. Why homes are lost to wildfire | This Forest Service expert says it's as much a soc...
  2. Locals resist a Bakkenization of the Beartooths | South-central Montanans oppose new drilling, forew...
  3. Photos of a standoff | Armed militia members join a Nevada rancher to pro...
  4. The energy haves and have-nots | Will rooftop solar owners get off the grid — and...
  5. Will the Colorado River reach the Gulf of California once more? | Photographs of last month's historic water pulses....
HCN Classifieds
Subscriber Alert
More from Recreation
Touring Indian Country via footrace How to run in a reservation race that's both sport and cultural tradition.
Mind over mountain A partly paralyzed athlete pushes his limits, as adaptive recreation booms in the West.
Native American tourism quietly thrives Can tourists benefit, not just exploit, tribal communities?
All Recreation
 
© 2014 High Country News, all rights reserved. | privacy policy | terms of use | powered by Plone