Wednesday, November 14, 2012


I just got into another argument about Brave. Probably the third or fourth one so far. Kind of ridiculous, but I just needed to write a post about it, describing my opinion on the matter. 

I guess the thing that bothers me is that I feel like people judge it over-harshly just because it's pixar. It's not any worse than a lot of other movies. I felt the same way about Kung Fu Panda, but everyone else loved it to death. And if I were to dare say "plot holes", "cardboard characters", and "avengers" in the same sentence, I'd be lynched on the nearest tree. 

(Don't get me wrong. I liked Avengers well enough. But only as much as I generally like a random movie that I saw because I was bored.)

I went into Brave expecting it to be terrible, because everyone had said it was, and I ended up really liking it. So I kind of feel this need to remind people about all the good things. 

To start with, the soundtrack was amazing. The graphics were amazing. And one of the things I loved about it was the Scottish feel of the whole thing. The environment and the aura of the movie was very well crafted. 

The feel and mood of something is just as important as the stuff that happens in it. I don't read Dracula over and over because I've forgotten what happens, and I want the action again. I read it over and over because I'm in the mood for a gothic, creepy, dark world for a little while. 

I won't watch Brave again because I forgot what happened. I'll watch it again because I want to be Scottish and magical for a little while.

A perfect example of that Scottish feel. =>

Here is the first part of the current argument against Brave. 

"Brave sucked! It has so much potential to have a real coming of age story with a strong female lead and they turned it into lolololol bears. Brave is just a mix of brother bear and Mulan. Easily the laziest pixar movie story wise of them all."
First of all, "anything sounds bad when you say it with that attitude." (Awesome points if you name the movie.)

Saying something with a snobby air doesn't actually change facts. 

Second, I would definitely say that Cars was the laziest of the pixars. With my own attitude thing, I say, a deusch-bag car that gets lost on his way to a big race, and has to learn how to not be a deusch so that he can get to his fans in time to get paid? Why should I care?

In that line, cars is just a mix of every male macho movie ever made. Thor, anyone? Dude who's a jerk. Loses his limelight. Has to learn to not be a jerk so he can get his powers back.

(Again, don't get me wrong. I liked Thor too. But seriously, if we're trying to talk about plot line originality, Brave doesn't fall nearly as short as some of the other pixars.)

Merida is a character that a lot of people can relate to. A rich and famous car is... what exactly? I root for Merida to get what she wants. I don't care one way or the other if the jock car makes it to his stupid race or not.


Putting personal preference aside, yes there was room for improvement on this count. There ALWAYS is. In every movie. The perfect movie has yet to be created. Not even by pixar.

The second part of the argument:

"So the fact that the first part of the movie had NOTHING to do with the rest of the movie doesn't bother you? Scottish games? Wedding suitors? Who cares, the movie was about magic bears! It was all just a set up to get to the bear parts, and then provide comedic relief. Pixar was lazy in that they have two separate story lines going and no way of tying the two together. The girl didn't change her mothers mind, being a bear did. I fail to see how she's even a strong character honestly, her role was terribly cliched and just when you think she's going to really start developing (after the arrow tournament thingy) nope, magic bears, because why not? Every thing from that point on was just downhill development wise for Merida.

I get that she's supposed to be a strong female lead, and I really wanted her to be because that would have been awesome and unique and something that Pixar of all movie studios could have pulled off wonderfully. Brave is ultimately a movie that didn't know what direction it wanted to go so it tried to go both and missed the mark on both ends. Forgettable characters and major plot flaws, the only redeeming thing about Brave was the fact the main character was a "strong female", if that wasn't the case the movie would be laughably forgettable."


Firstly, Why not? Is there a really good reason that bears aren't allowed as magical accessories in a magical story? Because if not, what's the problem?

Secondly, it's not actually about bears anyway.
I don't think the two parts of the movie were nearly as disconnected as all that. 

Mother and daughter clash over a really big life choice. Their relationship is smashed to pieces. The only way they can repair it is by actually listening to each other and trying to be a mother and daughter again. Trying to see the good in the other person. But they're both so dang stubborn that it only happens when they're forced into it by drastically bad choices. IE. through "your basic spirit guide transformation magic." (10 more awesome points if you can name that movie.)

In other words, it's not a movie about magic bears. It's a movie about the relationship between a mom and her kid, and them learning how to not be too stupidly stubborn, and remembering what's really important in life. It just happens to involve bears. If it had been crocodiles instead of bears, the movie would have been exactly the same. (Though much less Scottish.) 

If it were a movie where the action was important (like in the avengers) I would understand the point and agree with it. What the heck? But it isn't. If the intelligence of all animals was judged based on its ability to climb a tree, dolphins would be royally screwed over. You just can't judge it with the same filter. A feel-good, warm fuzzies, relationship movie will never accomplish what a smash-em, bash-em, blow-em-all-up movie does. But neither one is inherently better or worse than the other. They just reach different audiences. 

As the audience for Brave was clearly a warm-fuzzies, generally female, focus on the characters type, I posit that it accomplished exactly what it was trying to accomplish. 

Thirdly, I think "forgettable characters" probably depends on the personal taste. That isn't something that's empirically measurable. I mean, I'll remember Merida significantly longer than I'll remember lighting McQueen and his

Dang. I honestly don't remember what her name was. Or even what color she was. I only remember that scene about the pinstriping tattoo.

Huh. Well, case closed on that account.

Fourthly, major plot flaws....

Hmm. I feel like the definition of "major plot flaws" would be something to the effect of things that are so jarring that you can't get over them in order to enjoy the rest of the movie. The poster child for Major Plot Flaws would be Snow White and the Huntsman, sadly a movie that even Chris Hemsworth couldn't save. Worst case of arbitrary convenient occurrences ever. I even started counting how many times the queen could have offed Snow White right then and there, and had done with her, but monologued instead. I lost count halfway through the movie. 

<= Chris Hemsworth. The only good part of that movie, and even he sucked in it. Pretty badly. 

A good movie that still has a few plot holes would be more accurately housed in the "minor plot flaws" section. Like how the Hulk conveniently learns how to control his power while falling to his death. And how Iron man conveniently falls back through the portal just in time to not be nuked to death. And how the alien forces conveniently all die when their mother ship gets blown up. And how Iron man says "This thing is gonna blow in less than a minute", and yet it takes over two minutes to fly it up into space and let it actually blow up. And how Odin conveniently finds a way to send Thor back to earth in order to get Loki, although he can't seem to do it so that Thor can be with his girlfriend. Or how Hawkeye can shoot his bow backward without looking and still hit stuff? Seriously?

Need I go on?

The point is, a movie can still be very good and very enjoyable to the masses, even when it has some random stupid little conveniences. Brave does not have any Huntsman level plot fissures. Even though I can't think of anything off the top of my head as I type this, I'm sure it does have some holes on the "minor plot flaws" scale. But they obviously weren't jarring enough to rip me out of the movie. Therefore they are forgivable. Just as those Avengers conveniences are forgivable. 

And now for the end:

"If you're a company that has built it's self up a reputation of being as close to perfection as Pixar has and leveraged that to make billions of dollars, yes, it is fair to hold them to a much much higher standard. Pixar is where they are now because they've demanded perfection in every aspect of their business model and it's worked with very very few exceptions. Cars/2 was a let down but it was creative enough to still be unique. 
 I agree on your about the relationship between the mom and daughter and I like that it was focused around that, I just feel that there are better ways to go from A to C with our having to resort to the magic as B. The visuals and soundtrack were both amazing I'm not arguing that at all.
Pixar are master story tellers, that's their "thing". Brave as a regular movie was just ok, a feel good movie and aimed largely at a much younger audience. As a Pixar movie, it was a let down, Brave could have been so much more, and frankly deserved much more than it was given."

 Firstly, of course that is true. Pixar has built up a reputation. It needs to uphold it. But that is not at all what I mean by my argument about how people judge it too harshly. This is what I do mean:

When I was a kid, I proudly told everyone in Virginia that I was from Utah where they had "real mountains". I was so excited to get back here where the mountains were so epic, and then... I did. And those everest-ine peaks were just piddly little brown chunks of dusty rock. 

This is what I expected. 

This blip is what I got.

Now, the rockies are not piddly at all. (Except maybe directly around provo. :P ) But I built them up so much in my little kid imagination that the real ones will never again hold any magic for me. 

Therefore, in regards to Brave, I don't mean that it didn't deserve to be as good a movie as Pixar could make, or that Pixar made it flawlessly. I just mean that when expectations get to a certain point, they are unattainable, even when the result is still awesome and great.

When we all imagine perfection, near perfection will always be a disappointment. 

Secondly, I just read an essay on this exact thing, and I refer to the words of C. S. Lewis and his abundant wisdom when I say this.The use of magic is not inherently "resorted to", and I take exception to the inference that it is. 

A person can create magic in their world because they want it to be magical. Not everyone who does so is only doing it because they can't think of a better plot device to get their point across. To assume so is to be exceptionally close-minded and judgmental. My novel My rules. Fire-breathing princess, if I freaking want it. 

Yes, there are other ways to get from A to C without B being magic. But that doesn't make them inherently better. Nor does it make magic the wrong choice. 

An author (or screenwriter) makes that choice based on the feel of the story he wants to present. As I said before, it could have been crocodiles instead of bears. But it would have made the story feel completely different. Perhaps egyptian instead of scottish. Wrong? No. Different? Yes.

They could have encountered something besides magic to get to their ending. Would that be wrong? No. Different? Yes. And in this case, different is not what they wanted. They went for mystical, magical-ness. That's what they got. 

Thirdly, are not all pixars aimed at younger audiences? The great thing about both pixar and disney is that they are masters of making a movie for children that adults not only tolerate, but love as well. I don't agree that Brave is the exception. (Hunchback might be, though. Good movie, but too dark for kids to really understand.) 
Ask anyone in the world, and they'll say that disney makes kids movies. All disney and all pixar are geared toward kids. But all of them make the movie good enough that not only to the children love it, and get exposed to quality media. But the parents and babysitters love it too, and are not driven to distraction by it. 

Lastly, yes, I agree to an extent. There are loads of things that Brave could have been given. But I don't know if I agree that they should have been added. As I've said about twelve million times already, the aura of the movie, and the type of story they wanted to tell were achieved successfully. Changing it into a different movie by adding more explosions, or less bears, or more handsome men, (blah blah blah) wouldn't make it better or worse. Just different. Sometimes different is good. Sometimes it isn't. 

So, in conclusion, I'm sorry that you were not part of the target audience for this particular installment of Pixar.  But Brave wasn't bad just because it wasn't for you. Tune in next time, and maybe cars 3 will suit your need for manly things.


PS. I don't actually believe this, but here's some food for thought. What if the reason that girls loved Brave and guys didn't is because the guys are offended at seeing an accurate example of how men really act?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

ABC's of not spouting false election information

People! People! *facepalm*

Let's get some facts straight, before you go off looking like complete idiots. Again.

"The mormon church is" alphabet:

A) Just a nickname for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (Yes, long, I know. But note the names involved.)

B) Does, in fact, worship Jesus.

C) The guy named Mormon was a historian. Like Herodotus or Plutarch. Just not greek. (Hence "The Book of Mormon". As in "The book of Matthew" or "The book of Mark" Not "A book that worships some random dude instead of Jesus.")

D) Does NOT believe that black people should still be slaves. (Seriously, where did that even come from?)

E) Does NOT believe that black people are an inferior race.

F) Does, in fact, have members who are *gasp* black. Quite a few, point of fact.

G) Actually does MORE for humanitarian relief than quite a few big-time organizations. ( ).

H) And no, I don't mean just money and blankets. Take a good look at all the work hours put in by non-paid volunteers.

I) Does NOT believe that women are inferior.

J) Does NOT believe that women shouldn't vote or have jobs.

K) Does NOT believe that women who have been raped "deserved it" or were somehow at fault.

L) DOES believe that families are of utmost importance.

M) Does NOT believe in tearing families apart.

N) DOES believe in love and tolerance.

O) Not to be confused with supporting bad habits or becoming enablers. But one can love a person and treat them with respect without agreeing with that person's opinions or choices.

P) Does NOT support bullying, hate-crimes, or persecution, no matter what the relevant issue is.

Q) Does, unfortunately, have members that don't always act in accordance with the above.

R) Does believe in the right of every human being to exercise freedom of choice.

S) Does NOT believe in using force or coersion to "convert" unwilling members.

T) Does want to share their beliefs with others. (When you taste a food that makes your tastebuds throw a happy-dance party, do you hide it away, or do you tell every one of your friends how delicious it was and that they should go out and taste it too?)

U) Does NOT have political affiliations. The official stance is: Go out and vote. Participate in the civic processes. Use your own freedom of choice to decide who you vote for.

V) No, that is not code for "You know how we want you to vote, but make it look like we're not controlling your lives". (Believe it or not, there are leaders at the head of the church from both major political parties.)

W) Is not a rich-white-people-only church. There are 14 1/2 million members, and over 8 million of them live outside of the United States.

X) Does NOT still endorse polygamy. That would be the Flds church. (A radical splinter group that broke off about 100 years ago, and became an official religion itself in 1932.)

Y) That Warren Jeffs guy? Yeah, Flds. (See above).

Z) Is NOT against science, knowledge, and informed rational thinking. Quite the opposite. The church strongly believes in getting a good education, and also believes that science does not contradict religion, but enhances it. God created the world. Science is the exploration and appreciation of that world.