She’s now an Oscar winner but most people knew that Brenda Chapman had been fired off of Brave and another director given the opportunity to “fix” what was wrong. What WAS wrong? Hear that sound? That is the sound of a million Pixar fan laments that it wasn’t as good as Toy Story, Ratatouille, etc. The Pixar branded no-likey that Pixar had gone in a different direction, namely the usual Pixar (Hollywood) paradigm of male on top, male discovering self, male growing up, with the help of a plucky female! The story works because we’ve all been so conditioned as audiences that we can’t really seem to accept anyone who messes with the structure. For some of us, we have to come off like militant feminists who rail against the status quo because no one else seems to mind – as long as money is being made, who really cares?
Brenda Chapman says that her experience to alter this status quo, to deliver unto Pixar something it never had before: a female lead. Can you imagine? In 2012 that this sentence even has to be uttered? And yet, it is. Women mostly make the world go round yet they most certainly do not drive “family entertainment.” Says Chapman, “Sometimes women express an idea and are shot down, only to have a man express essentially the same idea and have it broadly embraced. Until there is a sufficient number of women executives in high places, this will continue to happen.”
I dare say, even with women in high places it will continue to happen. The reason being, no woman wants to fail in a high powered position so they will probably do what male executives do: make money the best way they know how. After all, the most powerful forces in the Oscar strategist business are women – Cynthia Schwarz, Lisa Taback, Lea Yardum, Bumble Ward, Terry Press. To say nothing of the high-powered women who run studio. Their job is to sell a movie, not necessarily to sell a movie that corrects society’s ills. So I’m afraid the only people who will ever really change anything will have to be audiences who buy the tickets and loudmouth bloggers like me who continue to champion works by women and continue to make noise about it. Change will have to come from outside in, I figure.
As for Brave’s unconventional storyline, it’s probably that Chapman is a mother that I loved Brave’s odd story. Most were expecting a rollicking adventure, not something so unexpected as the story of a mother and a daughter. It made a shitload of money, $237 million, whether it won the hearts of Pixar fanboys or not. And isn’t money the bottom line anyway?