The Myth Of The Fiery Redhead

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 21 2012 @ 7:57am

L.V. Anderson worries that Pixar's new movie is "poised to pass the stereotype on to a whole new generation":

The spectrum of fiery redheaded-ness has at least a couple of axes. Fiery redheads can be promiscuous like Jessica Rabbit or the titular Red-Headed Woman, or asexual like Pippi Longstocking or Anne of Green Gables—this usually depends on the age of the target audience of the book or movie in question. They can be ruthless, like Rebekah Brooks (whose hair gets a mention in virtually every article written about her) or ultimately kind, like Mrs. Weasley in the Harry Potter books. (Rebekah Brooks is, of course, a real person, unlike the other characters mentioned here, but the press has been happy to cast her as an archvillain in the New International hacking scandal.) And, of course, there are degrees of fieriness, from the petulant, perpetually mid-tantrum Merida to the cool, collected Joan Harris (née Holloway) of Mad Men.

Hanna Rosin is much more positive:

The radical question this movie takes on is women and power. Not power as in leadership—it’s perfectly clear that the Queen is the only legitimate leader—but raw physical power, edging over into violence. In her essay "Throwing Like a Girl," philosopher Iris Marion Young argues that the early-life failure of girls to use their bodies in lateral space or to throw their whole weight behind physical tasks limits their imagination and sense of potential. These are the kinds of limitations Merida takes on in an early exhilarating scene when she rides through the forest shooting everything in her path.