Count Jon Stewart among the many thousands of parents and moviegoers unimpressed by Disney’s controversial makeover of “Brave” heroine Merida.
In case you missed it, last weekend Merida was officially inducted into Disney’s “princess collection,” meaning that her image, like that of Ariel, Belle and Cinderella before her, will now appear on a slew of merchandise aimed at young girls.
The problem is that her image will look noticably different than in the hit Pixar film, which celebrated Merida’s independent spirit: Like a quirky starlet who’s submitted to the pressures of Hollywood by cutting carbs and hiring a stylist, the “princess” version of Merida sports tamer hair, a low-cut neckline, and a narrower waistline. Worst of all, she’s abandoned her trademark bow and arrow.
“Come on, the whole message of ‘Brave’ was that girls don’t have to fit in with society’s expectations,” Stewart said Thursday on “The Daily Show,” likening the new Merida to the University of Maryland sorority girl whose profanity-laced email (to put it mildly) recently went viral online, and the old Merida to one of her beleaguered pledges.
The host wasn’t buying Disney’s claim that being a Disney princess means “being brave, passionate and confident.”
“Yeah, and literally lying in a coma waiting for a man to give you life,” he quipped.
Nor was Stewart impressed by the company’s attempt to quell the controversy -- including an online petition that garnered 200,000 signatures -- by suggesting that Merida was merely getting “dress[ed] up for her coronation ceremony.”
“They think we’re … idiots,” he remarked.
In the end, though, Stewart reserved the toughest criticism for fellow parents who perhaps lean a little too heavily on pop culture.
“The point is this, Disney: You need to reconsider this makeover because you have an arrangment with the parents of America, of which I am one,” he said. “Our job is to make sure the children are sitting in front of the screen. Your job is to raise them right. And if you keep teaching them the wrong lessons, then we’re going to have to start doing it ourselves, and that’s not cool.”
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