A Personal Letter to Disney: Be Brave

There is a storm brewing with the Disney release of a toy line featuring its first truly ‘brave’ heroine, Princess Merida. Seems that in an effort to appeal traditionally to little girls’ doll tastes, the rough and tumble star of “Brave” has lost weight, filled out her too tight gown and adopted that doe-eyed sparkle princess look….the look and the life that the animated Merida despised.

I will let anthropologists and psychologists dissect why this is right or wrong. Or just cowardly.

I will turn instead to my own experience, watching the animated film alongside a 7 year old redhead named Soleil.  From the moment that Merida, the cartoon ginger wild child, picked up her bow and galloped through the woods, Soleil’s heart pounded in the saddle alongside her heroine. Proud, cheering, valiant.

For once, the story wasn’t about a cookie-cutter forgotten waif lifted by a prince to a palace. This was true grit, the kind of beauty any girl with guts can achieve. The knowing eyes, the powerful stance, the in-your-face joy of being a girl alive in her own skin spoke to Soleil. And the hair, the untamed, boundless curls that said, “Remember me!” Go ahead, Disney, give our real ‘brave’ Merida a sparkly crown. We need her in the Magic Kingdom. But don’t mess with her curls or her curves or her courage.

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A Refund That Puts A Recall On Parents’ Downtime

The Walt Disney Company is now offering a full refund on all the Baby Einstein videos that didn’t increase infant intellect, as reported by Tamar Lewin in the New York Times (10/23/09).

We know that too much TV for little ones is not healthy; the American Academy of Pediatrics has told us so. Yet for years, Baby Einstein, with their highly successful and profitable DVDs, has been giving parents permission to use the television as a “developmental tool” rather than as an electronic babysitter.

Did parents believe these videos were going to help their child get into the right preschool? I doubt it. But the company did hit upon a real Whole Truth, that parents wanted to feel less guilty about using the television as a way to steal a few moments away where they didn’t have to be solely responsible for their child’s development.

Even when the Disney Company eliminated the words “educational” from their marketing materials in 2006, the implications were still apparent and embraced by parents. (Note that these videos are still listed as Top Picks at Babies R Us.)

So, does this admission via a full refund by Disney leave parents feeling gypped beyond the $15.99?

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February 29, 2024
by Mary Lou Quinlan

A look at an early production of WORK


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The God Box Goes Global!

“The God Box” has grown to include an app, audio book, philanthropic venture and solo show performed by Mary Lou across the US. Now The God Box Project goes global to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
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