“Brave,” Pixar’s new animated movie, is giving Scottish tourism a new lease on life.
In conjunction with the release of the film, the country’s tourism organization, VisitScotland, is spending £7 million (almost $11 million), on a new global advertising campaign, including buying television ads in North America for the first time in a decade. They expect to reach 80 million people with the effort, The Scotsman newspaper reports.
“Brave,” meanwhile, will be shown in 72 countries. Scotland’s tourism officials hope the movie will augment their campaign and help attract more worldwide visitors. If their hopes are realized, additional tourism will give a £140 million ($220 million) boost to Scotland’s economy.
But while Scots are thankful for “Brave,” some American commentators raised questions about stereotypes in the movies. In Time magazine, Scottish writer Graeme McMillan said he bristled at the buffoonish antics of the Scots in “Brave,” noting that Disney-owned Pixar often trucks in stereotypes (remember “Ratatouille?”). Slate editor L.V. Anderson noted that the film perpetuates clichés about fiery, rebellious redheads.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, “Brave’s” filmmakers and the actors whose voices were used in the production, including Scots, said the movie reflected the reality of Caledonia. “They really captured the essence and I think the humor of the Scottish people,” said Kelly Macdonald, who provided the voice of princess Merida Brave, the film’s main character.
Comedian Craig Ferguson, who provides the voice for Lord Macintosh, provided a more nuanced take on the issue:
What happens is, there are stereotypes about the Scottish people. There’s the positive stereotype of the kind of noble warrior poet, and there’s the negative stereotype about the angry, belligerent drunk. Both of these have a basis in fact. But what I haven’t seen captured too often in films made outside of Scotland is the sense of whimsy and the sense of fun that exists in the Scottish psyche.
Other critics might have gone a bit too far in analyzing the film. Adam Markovitz, writing in Entertainment Weekly, posits that Merida Brave might be a lesbian, even though he stresses that there’s no overt proof for that assertion.
Merida is a tomboyish princess who climbs mountains, dislikes girly dresses and doesn’t want to marry any of the three dimwitted suitors courting her. Does that make her gay? It’s probably wishful thinking on Markovitz’s part, but we’ll give it a scientific “maybe.” But she sure is…Scottish. You can check out the trailer (and the link to the Scotsman) below.