Um, no — she’s a girl in a fairy tale. But a post suggesting a cryptic gay-pride message gets a huge response
In the tradition of instant non-analysis of made-up issues — the tradition that made the Internet the wonderful place it is! — Adam Markovitz, of EW.com’s PopWatch blog, put up a post over the weekend suggesting that the fiery Scottish princess Merida, heroine of Disney’s new animated hit “Brave,” might be a lesbian. (If you haven’t seen “Brave,” and you still want to — well, hell, it’s a free country, right? Keep on reading! A few spoilers won’t kill ya!) It sort of goes like this: Merida is good at archery, she climbs rocks, she’s kind of a tomboy type, and she doesn’t want to marry any of the three dimwit suitors for her hand. If she were a person in the real world — which, I will hasten to add, she isn’t — and if her real world were a touch more modern and liberated than medieval Scotland (which was not exactly a gender-blur society), then sure, that girl might grow up to be gay. Or, on the other hand, she might not!
That’s really all there is to say and, in fairness, Markovitz does not pretend that one can draw any conclusions about a Disney fairy-tale princess (one who, mysteriously, seems to have been named after a city in Mexico) when evidence is completely lacking. In fact he seems to draw all conclusions at once — “Merida isn’t an overtly lesbian character,” but she “absolutely” could be gay — before drawing none at all: “Ultimately it doesn’t matter if Merida could be interpreted as gay.” That’s an impressive display of having and eating all the cake in the bakery, but if it doesn’t matter, friendo, then we read your whole article because … well, OK, I actually do understand the because.
Markovitz’s post sparked intense debate and social-media activity for both honorable reasons and borderline-sleazy ones. On one hand, it’s startling to be confronted by the fact that even in 2012, with same-sex marriage legal in many jurisdictions and gay men and lesbians serving openly in the military, LGBT people are still so starved for role models and friendly archetypes in mainstream Hollywood movies. On the other hand, Markovitz sneakily suggests — without ever coming out and saying so — that Disney/Pixar snuck their maybe-lesbian princess into the marketplace of ideas on Pride weekend as a sort of secret signal to the gay community.
Today, crowds will line the streets of cities like New York and San Francisco for parades that mark the high point of LGBT Pride Month. At the same time, legions of kids will swarm into theaters to watch Pixar’s “Brave,” the animated story of a young Scottish princess named Merida who goes to extreme lengths to avoid having to marry one of the three noblemen that her parents have chosen for her. The two events don’t seem to have much in common at first glance.
Or do they?! Hmm? As pop-culture conspiracy theories go, I give this one about a B-plus. It isn’t true, but it has its merits. Disney has long been known as a gay-friendly oasis in corporate America (although these days every other Hollywood studio, and many other large corporations, can match the Mouse on that front). Pixar, now a Disney subdivision, is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a reputation (possibly exaggerated) for encoding liberal social values and a smidgen of adult-oriented intellectual humor into its films. Add all that background, and a release date that coincided with the biggest Gay Pride parades in the country, to a rebellious redhead who handles a bow and arrow better than any boy, and you get — well, you get the shifting ideal of girlhood circa 2012, that’s what you get.
I don’t believe that “Brave” co-directors Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman and Steve Purcell, or the Pixar team, had any intention of creating a lesbian-coded heroine. Instead they created an autonomous, independent-minded and indeed pre-sexual or nonsexual character, whose principal relationship is with her mother. (Although Merida appears to be a teenager, the intended audience for the film is much younger.) But pop culture is a fluid marketplace, and if Merida’s challenge to the traditional mode of femininity strikes a chord with viewers who’ve been fighting that fight their entire lives, then all you can say is more power to them, and there isn’t a theater proprietor in the country who’s likely to refuse them tickets. No one at Pixar will be dumb enough to say anything about this at all, most likely, except perhaps “Oh, gosh!” and “We welcome all points of view!”
There’s a germ of something here, to be sure, even if it’s completely unintentional. Merida strikes me as a younger-sister forerunner of Katniss Everdeen, the adolescent archer played by Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games.” If anything, Katniss seems a more consciously lesbian-coded character than Merida (at least in her original form in Suzanne Collins’ novels), with the crucial difference that she’s not available as an LGBT icon because she’s officially heterosexual. Who decided that bow-and-arrow proficiency was the standard for awesome girlness? I guess that was the Greeks, a few thousand years back, who used much the same cover story for Artemis, goddess of the hunt and a glaringly obvious precursor of both these characters. She was supposed to be straight too, although she was a virgin constantly surrounded by female attendants and known for killing guys who came after her. The only man she ever loved was Orion, her fellow hunter, whom she killed by accident (whoops!) and hung in the sky, where we can see him on summer nights when we’re done arguing about the movies.
Shocking News: Usher Raymond New Album Looking 4 Myself Has Disappointing Debut Sells Only 128,000 Copies!!!
According to the website Hits Daily Double, Usher Raymond new album Looking 4 Myself will debut at number one on the Billboard charts. However, Looking 4 Myself sold a disappointing 128,000 copies! Usher previous albums Raymond Vs Raymond, and Here I Stand were multi platinum hits! This is very strange and bizarre result! I hope Usher sales in international markets are better much higher.
Last year, a young black woman Issa Rae decided to create her own web series called Awkward Black Girl due to the paucity of entertainment geared towards black women. The show is a hit on You Tube! Issa and her friends worked together, got on Kickstarter and raised the funds for the web series. In fact, Issa Rae has received a lot of mainstream media attention from CNN, New York Magazine, and other publications. Issa also had discussions with television networks interested in her series. Issa Rae wants to maintain control over her show and give the audience the entertainment that is lacking on mainstream television.
Ten years ago, Halle Berry was on the top of the world she made history by becoming the first black woman to win the Oscar for best actress for Monster’s Ball. A decade later Halle Berry’s career is currently in the toilet she is struggling just to get work. Berry’s victory in 2002 was supposed to open the door for women of colour in Hollywood. High profile black actresses Vanessa Williams, Queen Latifah, and Angela Bassett all turned down the female lead in Monster’s Ball. In fact, in 2002, Angela Bassett told Newsweek Magazine that Berry’s character Leticia Musgrove was a “prostitute”.
It might be difficult for people who are not black to understand the anger and disappointment blacks had with Halle Berry. There was a huge uproar and backlash against Berry for appearing in Monster’s Ball. Berry was criticized by many blacks and her popularity with black audiences declined dramatically. A common complaint among blacks is blunt, why did the first black woman to win best actress have to screw a white man in order to win? Would Hollywood allow Nicole Kidman, Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, or Jennifer Aniston to have an explicit sex scene with a black man and win an Academy Award?
Many black people objected to the explicit sex scene Berry had with white actor Billy Bob Thorton because they felt the film promoted the licentious black whore stereotype. When Berry’s character Leticia Musgrove screamed the line “make me feel good” baring her breasts and nude body this upset many African-Americans.
The Monster’s Ball sex scene also alludes to white male dominance over black women and to the horrors of slavery where black females were raped by white men.
The pornographic scene in Monster’s Ball was similar to a rape scene and not a loving or romantic film scene.
Black women are consistently stereotyped as being lascivious, and sexually available for the disposal of men. Young black female pop stars such as Rihanna and Beyonce promote the black jezebel image with their sexually explicit music videos! Turn on MTV, BET, or Much Music, and the viewer will see young black women dancing seductively in tight clothing this promotes a disturbing negative image of black females.
Why didn’t Angela Bassett win the Oscar for her incredible performance in the 1993 Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got To Do With It? Why did a black woman have to take her clothes off in order to win the best actress Oscar? Was Berry character Leticia Musgrove the jezebel?
In the 1982, the groundbreaking black feminist classic book All The Women Are White, All The Blacks Are Men, But Some Of Us Are Brave, black feminists argues black women are still placed into sexist categories. A black actress is either the maid, or the whore, but she is never depicted on the silver screen as a three dimensional human being. Where are the movies with black women in leading roles as doctors, teachers, police women, firefighters, writers, lawyers, politicians, bankers, or dentists?
Last year, the success of summer hit The Help received some negative press in the black community because of the black mammy stereotype. Kathryn Stockett’s novel The Help is considered a feminist classic by mainstream white feminists. However, in the novel and the film the central theme of the novel is about Skeeter a young white woman’s evolution and change. The black female characters Minny, and Aibileen are just shadows to Skeeter.
Octavia Spencer won the best supporting actress Oscar for The Help but there was apathetic support in the black community. The reason is, despite Spencer’s strong performance in The Help she won an Oscar for being a white woman’s maid! Spencer’s best supporting actress win is not progress because it proves Hollywood is still incredibly racist against black actors.
Over seventy years ago, another black actress Hattie McDaniel also won an Oscar for being a maid in the racist film Gone With The Wind. Octavia Spencer’s victory cemented that fact Hollywood still places black women into restrictive racist and sexist binaries.
Meanwhile, ten years after Halle Berry’s victory she was unable to capitalize off her success. Time will tell if Octavia Spencer can maintain her success after winning the Oscar. For a short period of time Berry’s career was successful.
In December 2002, Halle starred with British actor Pierce Bronson and the film grossed $431 million dollars worldwide. In 2003, Halle was the star of the horror flick Gothika and the movie was a huge hit earning $141 million worldwide. Halle cemented her A list status by proving she can headline a movie by herself. However, in 2004 Berry’s career hit rock bottom with the disappointing performance in the film Catwoman. Despite winning an Academy Award she wasn’t the first choice which was Ashley Judd. Judd turned down the role for Catwoman and Halle won the part.
On various internet websites such as IMDB.COM, some fans were disappointed that a black actress obtained the lead role. The budget for Catwoman was $100 million dollars but the worldwide box office was only $82 million. The mainstream media attacked Halle for taking on the role. Although Catwoman was a disappointment, white actresses such as Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston, Charlize Theron, Angelina Jolie also have numerous bombs in their careers.
The dilemma for Halle Berry was, since she was the only A list black actress any failure was used to justify the myopic belief black actresses are not profitable. However, the truth is Hollywood doesn’t know what do with a beautiful, talented, black actress.
White actresses also have white skin privilege therefore they are allowed more opportunities to obtain leading lady film roles. An A list white actress such as Nicole Kidman can have a series of bombs yet she still have the offers for leading lady roles!
Halle Berry’s career as an A list actress was over after Catwoman she never was offered the same kind of roles her white female contemporaries get.
The Hollywood system still favours white women over women of colour and this is a fact. Mainstream magazines such as Vanity Fair, Vogue, Entertainment Weekly, Variety, New York Times, LA Times, promotes young white actresses over women of colour. Television shows such as E Talk, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, also have a prominent role of being a representation for white beauty.
Since Hollywood is a racist dream factory, the white woman is still placed on the pedestal as the ultimate beautiful woman. The image of a woman in the pop culture that is successful, talented, and attractive is still the white female. Women of colour rarely ever obtain the high-profile film roles despite being as talented, hardworking or beautiful. Halle Berry has complained in numerous media interviews that she receives the scraps the crappy film roles that an A list white actress doesn’t want.
Although Berry has a legitimate complaint that she is treated unfairly compared to the A list white actresses, she still had better opportunities than any black woman in Hollywood history. Berry was paid $14 million dollars for Catwoman, she also has endorsements with Revlon cosmetics, and she has her own perfume line.
Berry has also made some poor choices she honestly believed after she won the best actress Oscar for Monster’s Ball that she could cross over to white America.
The dilemma for Halle Berry is, although she is half white she still did not connect with a mainstream audience. Berry attempted to reach the mainstream with her roles in films such as Things We Lost In A Fire, Perfect Stranger, Frankie & Alice. Berry’s recent film the pathetic and dismal shark movie Dark Tide failed to reach an audience.
The quandary for Berry is, she is an aging sex symbol although she looks great and is physically fit she is also forty-five years old. Hollywood is a sexist business and judged by their age and not their talent. Men are allowed to age in Hollywood gracefully. For instance, Denzel Washington is fifty-seven years old yet since he is a male he still has the opportunities to obtain the high-profile film roles. Will Smith is forty-three years old and Jamie Foxx is forty-four yet their careers are more successful than Halle Berry’s career. Although black men encounter racism in Hollywood they still benefit from male privilege because they are men.
All women in Hollywood are treated to the unfair misogynist double standard that they can only be successful for an ephemeral period of time. Once an actress regardless of her race reaches the magical age of forty the roles start to dry up. Meryl Streep is the exception to the rule but for most actresses regardless of their talent they are replaced by younger actresses.
Since black women encounter discrimination in relation to their race and gender Halle Berry’s decline is incredibly sad. Unfortunately for Berry, Hollywood replaced her with younger black actresses such as Zoe Saldana, Kerry Washington, Jennifer Hudson, and Meagan Good.
Halle Berry’s contemporaries such as Queen Latifah, Vivica A Fox, Taraji P Henson, Sanaa Lathan, and Gabrielle Union are still working. One problem which Halle Berry needs to address if she wants to make a comeback is to make movies which appeal to the black female audience. Tyler Perry is successful because his movies have reached black women which is a lucrative market which mainstream Hollywood tends to ignore. Black women want to see other black women fall in love, have romantic relationships, and appear in exciting and interesting movies. Queen Latifah has not forgotten the black female audience and this is the reason why her career is currently more successful than Halle Berry’s career.
If Halle Berry wants to make a successful comeback she needs to make films which will win back the black female audience. Berry needs to consider making a romantic comedy or a dramatic film which involves romance.
What married-with-kids A-list movie star has his faithful assistant help him find dates with men on a gay s*x website that caters to guys who like Latino and African- American gangster-types? The actor, who has long been rumored to swing both ways, has a k*nky penchant for prison thugs!