It may at first seem strange to say that Brave is a movie with a lot to prove.  After all, Pixar remains one of the few Hollywood studios whose name is a hallmark of quality, and it closed out the last decade with the one-two-three punch of Wall-E, Up, and Toy Story 3, a trio of films so sublime and so perfectly formed that in their wake an aura of infallibility seemed to attach itself to the studio.  Even if that aura was tarnished by the misstep that was last year's Cars 2--the first Pixar film to be critically ignored and shut out of the Best Animated Film Oscar category since its creation--there's no denying that, going by the numbers, Pixar is the most consistently excellent studio in Hollywood.  Of course, another way of putting it is that after Toy Story 3, there was nowhere for Pixar to go but downhill, and there are signs of trouble besides Cars 2's tepid reception--the fact that a studio that once prided itself on the originality of its stories will, by next year, have produced two sequels (Toy Story 3, Cars 2) and one prequel (Monsters University, which depicts the college years of the protagonists of Monsters Inc.) in the space of four years is deeply worrying, suggesting that Pixar is falling in line with Hollywood's other juggernaut animation studio, Dreamworks, and with the general Hollywood tendency to eschew originality in favor of multiple sequels, prequels, and reboots, of which the recent The Amazing Spider-Man, a pleasant but entirely unnecessary effort that mostly recapitulates the beats of a movie that came out only ten years ago, is but the latest example.  So Brave, as Pixar's first original story in three years, had a lot riding on it.  And when you add to that the fact that the film comes as a reply to the voices--raised most loudly in the wake of Up, which opened with the introduction of a magnetic, adventurous female character only to kill her off after ten minutes, but by no means silent before it--pointing out that for all Pixar's originality and flair, the stories it created were predominantly stories about men, the burden of expectations is more than doubled.

Brave opened in the US a few weeks ago, so by now you will have heard that it has not proven equal to this burden.  Though by no means a bad film, it lacks the narrative and thematic complexity that have characterized previous Pixar films.  It's a simple story--much simpler and more shopworn than "a robot whose job it is to clean up the polluted Earth falls in love with a more advanced robot and follows her into space" or "a grieving, elderly widower decides to honor his wife by flying their house on the adventure they never got to share"--and very simply, and obviously, told--this is the first Pixar film I can remember, for example, that opens with a voiceover in which the main character explains (unnecessarily, for the most part) her world and her situation to the audience.  The worldbuilding in most Pixar films is characterized, and elevated, by its attention to idiosyncratic details--Wall-E doesn't just love Earth culture, he loves Hello, Dolly!; Carl wasn't simply inspired by film serials about adventures and derring-do, he was inspired by a particular explorer who, among other things, likes to fit his dogs with collars that allow them to talk.  Brave, on the other hand, seems to run more on clichés.  You've got your medieval Scottish castle, with a king, a queen, princes and princesses, visiting nobles, servants, warriors--all very well done, but in a very familiar way that the film never bothers to shade in or make its own.  The wacky, imaginative detail we've grown accustomed to seems here to have been replaced by funny accents and ethnic stereotypes.  (I'm quite curious to see what the reaction to Brave in the UK will be, since for all that it is a very funny film, most of the humor boils down to "look how Scottish these people are!")  The result is a world that, for all the obvious effort put into bringing it into vivid, gorgeous life, feels thin, and that thinness extends to the film's plot, which proceeds in rather obvious, clomping beats that seem to squander its running time.  There just isn't that much that happens here (especially in comparison with the nimble, fast-moving plots of previous Pixar films), and what happens is, again, obvious and familiar.

The real problem with this sense of familiarity, however, isn't the way it seems to indict Pixar's ability to craft original stories, but in the way it seems to indict Pixar's ability to write stories about women.  Far more than its thin world or plot, or its reliance on clichés, what troubles me about Brave is that when, after fifteen years of being synonymous with originality and unbridled imagination, the folks at Pixar finally set out to write a story about a girl, what they came up with is essentially a Disney Princess Movie.  Quite literally, at the most basic level--our heroine, Merida, is the first-born daughter of the high king--but also in terms of the story it chooses to tell.  Like Belle and Jasmine, Merida's story kicks off because she is being pressured into marriage, but actually craves a life of adventure.  And like Mulan, she rejects the feminine pursuits she's been encouraged to master in favor of martial ones--archery, horseback riding, mountain climbing, and the general joy in her physical accomplishments.  The film seems to owe a particular debt to Beauty and the Beast, and its climax, in which a transformed character is restored to humanity by Merida's declaration of love, feels almost like a direct quote.

On one level, this is very disappointing.  Boys, it seems, can in Pixar's conception lead any sort of story.  They can be the caretakers of a small child's imagination, or the architect of a plan to protect their home from invasion, or a doting, over-protective father.  They can learn how to be a chef, or go into space, or travel to South America in a flying house.  But when asked to tell a story about a girl, the first thing Pixar plumped for is a princess who is told she can't do things because she's a girl.  That this turns out not to be true is a heartening message, but it was already a heartening message in 1991, and the fact that we're still concentrating on climbing that hurdle more than twenty years later is dispiriting.  Because the fact is that by going back to this well, by bringing up terms like princess, marriage, and the conflict between "masculine" and "feminine" pursuits, what Pixar is saying is that a boy's story can be about anything--adventure, grief, parenthood, longing for companionship, learning to be the best at what you love--but a girl's story is always and forever about being a girl.  How much more encouraging would it have been, how much more positive a message would it have sent, if Pixar's first story about a girl were no different from their stories about boys except for the gender of its protagonist?

All that said, there is another way of looking at Brave, and that is that it is trying to examine, and in many ways dismantle, the conventions of the princess movie.  For one thing, there's no love interest.  One of the main points to be laid against Disney Princesses is that for all that their stories may revolve around self-actualization, they invariably end with romance and marriage.  Belle sings about wanting more than a provincial life, but what this ends up meaning is marriage to a rich man.  Jasmine isn't even the heroine of her story, and though she protests that she isn't "a prize to be won," narratively that is her role.  Even Mulan ends her story not as a general but as a girl receiving a suitor.  In Brave, Merida says that she doesn't want to get married, and the film takes her at her word.  The three suitors who come to her father's castle to vie for her hand remain minor characters, played mostly for laughs.  Instead, the central love story in Brave is between Merida and her mother, Elinor.  It's Elinor who pressures Merida to be feminine and ladylike, and Elinor who arranges the contest for Merida's hand, which drives a wedge between mother and daughter.  Merida's rebellion leads her to buy a potion that will change Elinor's mind about marrying her daughter off, but instead it transforms Elinor into a bear.  In order to reverse the spell Merida must heal her relationship with her mother.  Especially when one considers how little space mothers, and the relationship between mothers and daughters, take up in movies, and how particularly in movies about girls--be they Princess Movies, movies about Strong Female Characters, or some cross between the two--mothers are sidelined, either dead or just not very important, this emphasis is refreshing and laudable.

Even more intriguing, however, is the ambivalence with which Brave treats both Elinor's insistence on ladylike decorum, and Merida's preference for martial pursuits.  The film showcases the latter, and Merida's joy in them and in her physicality, in its early scenes, and after her transformation Elinor learns to appreciate her daughter's accomplishments in this realm, and even develop a few of her own.  But Brave remains skeptical of the value of these accomplishments, especially when it contrasts them with the way Elinor uses her power.  Elinor draws her power from femininity--she's the sort of woman who, by behaving like lady, gets to insist that the men around her behave like gentlemen, and as the film opens she's using that power to try to make peace between fractious clans, and needs Merida to follow her lead and use her femininity in order to accomplish this by marrying one of the clans' heirs, a plan to which Merida is resistant.  Merida's first attempt to avoid marriage involves showcasing her martial abilities.  She chooses archery as the field in which her three suitors will compete for her hand, then beats them all at it.  It's a badass moment, but Merida's (and our) triumph are soon punctured by Elinor, who points out that by humiliating her father's guests, Merida is risking war.  In one of the film's climactic scenes, we see that Merida has learned this lesson.  With the lords she enraged on the brink of fighting, she steps in (in a direct echo of an earlier scene in which Elinor had calmed a rambunctious mob by walking into it while female) and talks them all down, echoing her mother's words about the importance of cooperation and peace.

Brave ends with a reversal of roles--Elinor the bear saves the day through force of arms, by fighting off the demon bear Mordu (another transformed human) who has been terrorizing the kingdom, while Merida saves it through feminine skills, by sewing together the tapestry depicting her family which she had previously slashed, a condition of lifting the spell.  So on the surface it seems that we've reached a sort of equilibrium, with both martial and domestic pursuits treated as equally important and potentially life-saving.  But this conclusion feels less important, and less central to the film's message, than Merida's choice to adopt her mother's point of view and her methods--to the extent that she very nearly agrees to marry one of her suitors before Elinor stops her--in the earlier scene.  Ultimately, Brave comes down on Elinor's side.  It may buck the tradition of Disney Princess Movies by not giving Merida a love interest and by ending with her still single, but this is quite obviously a temporary state.  Merida and Elinor's compromise is that Merida can choose who she wants to marry and when.  She doesn't get to choose not to marry, however, nor does she get to choose to run off and live a life of adventure, or to inherit her father's throne on her own.  Merida's fate--which the film and the character are so concerned with--is to become Elinor.  One day she will marry a prince or chieftain, become queen, and like her mother, use her influence on her husband and his lords to bring peace and cooperation to their land.

This isn't entirely a bad message, of course.  In this era of Strong Female Characters, it's worth saying that being warlike isn't a good thing just because a woman does it, and that being a peacemaker might be better (though I can't help but wish that peacemaking and femininity were not so frequently linked, as they are in Brave).  Being a wife, a mother, and a force for peace and civility are all things of value, and this is a point worth making.  But one does wonder whether a medieval patriarchy is the best setting in which to show off that value.  The fact is, the kind of feminine power that Elinor ascribes to--the angel in the house, the font of decorum and civility, the woman who, by behaving like a lady, forces the men around her to behave like gentlemen--is a pernicious lie, one that remained ubiquitous well into the last century and still has significant power today, and which feminism has worked hard to root out.  Elinor may be a diplomat and a leader, but she is those things only because of who her husband is, and she maintains her power only on the sufferance of her husband and his vassals.  All it takes is one sufficiently powerful man who won't play the game--or who won't play it with her, since her power derives not simply from being a lady but from being a lady attached to a particular man--to take all her power away.  For all their tendency to fall into the valorization of strength of arms, stories about women warriors gained popularity because they offered a corrective to the complementarian fantasy of this sort of feminine power, this strength through weakness, reminding women that power that is your own is better than power that is contingent on the goodwill of men--goodwill that often doesn't exist.

Brave tries to reconcile these two ideas of female power, but the only way it can do this is to posit a fantasy world in which all men are rambunctious but harmless children, who would never lift a hand against a woman and can always be whipped into gentlemanly shape by a stern word and a disappointed expression.  That's a dangerous message to send to young girls (and to young boys too), especially coupled as it is with the film's deprecation of martial strength.  For all the interesting things Brave tries to do with the Princess Movie template--it is, for one thing, a movie that treats being a princess as a job and castigates its heroine for shirking it--it can't get away from the inherent patriarchal assumptions at that template's core.  Or rather, it won't--a lot of the film's problems could have been avoided if its setting were not so famously associated with rampant misogyny, or if its conception of princessing as a job were extended to its obvious conclusion of making Merida the heir to her father's throne, combining his strength of arms with Elinor's desire for peace.  The result is a movie that, for all its best efforts to complicate this story, still assumes that a story about a girl is a story about being a girl.  What we need, however, are stories about girls and women who can do or be anything, not in spite or because of their gender but regardless of it.  This, it seems, is too much even for Pixar's unbridled imagination.


Tom Elrod said…
There's a good piece at the New Inquiry about Brave, which tackles in-depth the whole "Why did Pixar have to make a princess movie?" question:

I haven't seen it yet, so I can't really comment about how subversive or not the movie is, though these discussions are making me much more interested in seeing it.
Yes, I saw that essay earlier today. While there are obviously things I agree with there, I think Loofbourow underestimates the degree to which the film's setting, and the fact of Elinor's power being contingent on her relationship to a man, colors its statement about femininity and feminine power. I also don't agree that it was necessary for Pixar to address the Princess Movie - maybe ten or fifteen years ago, when those movies were still considered the pinnacle of animated achievement, but certainly not now - and I think it's very problematic to have chosen to do so in their first effort with a female protagonist.
Peder said…
There is much food for thought in your analysis here. While I don't think you're wrong about the potential problems of teaching women that they can only use their feminine powers at the sufferance of men, I doubt that this will be the message that young girls will take from the movie. I think that they'll see the (sometimes) need for cooperation with parents, especially the mother. And I think they'll see the idea that sometimes you need to dig your heels in and say 'no' to an outrageous situation. Also, not enough has been said about how rare it is for an animated movie to focus on the relationship between a daughter and a (non wicked step) mother.
I think you're dead on about how much the setting dictates the story. There is no realistic way that Pixar could have plopped down a genuine modern feminist into medieval Scotland and had the story turn out well. Patriarchal power was simply too strong and any bothersome woman could be dispatched all too easily.
It doesn't match the heights of the Studio Ghibli movies and that really is a shame.
not enough has been said about how rare it is for an animated movie to focus on the relationship between a daughter and a (non wicked step) mother.

Well, I did mention this, though you're right that it bears repeating. After posting it occurred to me that the only other Princess Movie I can recall in which the mother-daughter relationship takes center stage is Tangled, in which that relationship is toxic and abusive.

On the other hand, there's a reason that relationships between women are either absent or toxic in our fairy tales - because a system that teaches women that their only value is granted to them by a man encourages them to fight each other for the privilege of being the one special woman who has all the power. It is precisely that system that Elinor has mastered, and which she now wants Merida to work within as well, so in a way it seems fitting that the consequence of that is to sever their bond (the other women in the film, by the way, are the witch, who has stepped away from the patriarchal power structure, and Maudy the servant, who is so powerless she can't even control Merida's younger brothers). It's nice that Pixar is trying to tell a story within this patriarchal setting in which the importance of female bonds is nevertheless affirmed, but I think it would have been better, as I say in the review, to choose a different kind of story.
Andrea K Höst said…
Although I'd rather see this story than not have it, it is very much a story we've been telling for years - exceptional girl gets to do more than girl things.

I did enjoy watching it, particular for the Mother-Daughter relationship, but I had three major problems with it:

- It told us nothing we haven't seen in other stories.

- Elinor was really the only 'problem' in the story (it would better have been named "Mum Needs to Lighten Up" since no-one else is shown to really care about Merida acting like a princess. Her father showed absolutely no sign of wanting princessy behaviour or caring about the marriage.

- There were so few female characters! Merida has no female friends or enemies. The clans brought no women with them whatsoever (not even the chiefs' wives). It sorely needed a tribe of "Lost Girls" running about in Merida's wake, and making the compromise re behaviour/marriage to be for all the kingdom's girls, not only the exceptional princess.

It was pretty and atmospheric, but it wasn't powerful.
Andrew Stevens said…
Women warrior movies (except for gunfighters and I can't think of one of those) are also a pernicious lie though. There is a reason why combat sports are divided into weight classes. A poor heavyweight who couldn't stay in the ring with a good one can still defeat the world champion flyweight. A good martial arts instructor teaching women or small men combat for self-defense teaches them to distract or temporarily incapacitate to make time for escape, not to pin their hopes on defeating a much larger attacker, even if he has not been trained to fight. I am sure there will eventually be a female world chess champion; the world's greatest wrestler or boxer is never going to be a woman (barring significant artificial chemical intervention). A woman will never rank anywhere near the top. If women want power that men can't take away, guns are the only answer.
Andrew Stevens said…
Thinking on it further, were the gains of feminism made through negotiation and diplomacy or through combat? Are they more likely to be retained and expanded through diplomacy or through combat? Which, truly, is the greater lie? I am pretty sure I know which one I'm going to teach my daughter.
ibmiller said…
I really appreciate the way you bring home the points about Brave's worldbuilding - after the care and craft put into the worlds of Monster's Inc, The Incredibles, and Wall-e, this boy's fantasy kingdom where no one (except for the queen) must work and miraculous corsets (with no whale trade or societal structures to explain their appearance) felt like an extreme letdown.

I think it's probably worth mentioning that there seems to be a lot of unrest behind the scenes at the top of Pixar, including the replacement of the original female director of Brave, but also the way their directors have been leaving for live-action projects, and John Lassiter's promotion to head of Disney animation - which might explain why they've relied so heavily on their previous successes.

I'm not sure I would go so far as to say that Elinor is the only problem in the film, since Merida's actions - she basically poisons her own mother - are pretty objectionable too. But I do agree that it's a flaw that no one else seems to care about decorum and ladylike behavior.

Your last point strikes me as one of the core flaws of the film. The absence of any other women - and most especially of the clan leaders' wives who might have offered an alternative to, or reinforcement of, Elinor's views - not only reinforces the sense that Brave is, as you say, a movie about an exceptional girl who gets to do non-girly things, but undermines the power of its message about the importance of female relationships.


Women warrior movies (except for gunfighters and I can't think of one of those) are also a pernicious lie

A lie? Maybe - though only if you assume that "the strongest woman could never beat the strongest man" is the same as "no woman can beat any man." But a pernicious one? I'm not aware that there's been some epidemic of women wrongly assuming that they can fight off attackers and being harmed because of it (I am, on the other hand, aware of several cases in which women successfully fought off attackers who were much larger than they were, simply by confounding their attackers by fighting back). The fact is, one of the effects of patriarchy is to alienate women from their bodies, whose value is perceived only in the appeal they have for men. Warrior women stories have their problems, but they do teach women to trust and enjoy their own physicality, to treat their body as a tool that they can employ rather than an ornament that they should groom and show off.

It's also worth noting that Merida's version of physicality is precisely the sort of "distract, temporarily incapacitate, and get away" variety that you mention approvingly. Her skills in the film are employed more in the purpose of survival - as when she builds a shelter for her transformed mother or teaches her how to fish. That's a fairly common approach in warrior women stories - see, for example, Katniss Everdeen, another archer whose skills are speed and knowing how to survive in the wilderness, who is specifically cautioned not to get in a fight with Hunger Games tributes who are bigger than her, and nevertheless triumphs.

were the gains of feminism made through negotiation and diplomacy or through combat?

Maybe you should ask the suffragettes who were beaten by the police, or force-fed until they suffered permanent harm. Or, for that matter, any feminist who has been called "angry" or "unladylike" simply for demanding equality. I'm not aware of any discriminated-against group that has gained its rights by asking for them politely.


It's obviously difficult to speculate about whether Brave's problems are the result of bad management and deliberate choices. This essay by Brenda Chapman, Brave's original director, for example, seems to suggest that her vision for the film was pretty closely in line with the final product. And, of course, I still haven't heard a compelling account of why she left and under what terms as far as completing the film was concerned.
Foxessa said…
" I'm not aware of any discriminated-against group that has gained its rights by asking for them politely."

One of the mantras for African American groups that are still being discriminated against and abused, even today.

Love, C.
Anonymous said…
Fair warning I’ve seen this movie about 5 times (so far ) I actually think I’m mildly obsessed with it.
You know when I first saw Brave one of my first thought’s was to wonder what the “feminist” take would be* so I do thank you for that. I hesitate to ask this a little ‘cuse it is kind of a trick question, but what would you have changed in Brave to make it a good feminist subversion?
Frankly I think that a lot of the division on this movie has to do with what people were expecting from it as opposed to what it in fact was. Was it a continuation of the totally awesome grade A++ pixar ** movie of awesome and/or a total subversion of the “Disney princess” specifically feminists stile with maybe a buch of epic tossed in . In which case ya I agree that an’t what ya got. However if you look at it more as a movie about a family one that while still having the sort of real problems you see in family’s practically those around parent maturing child relationships is also a family that ultimately is a strong unit that will in the end of the day do right by each other. This is how a family should be, parents that truly love each other that complement each other and will work together to discharged there responsibility’s both of whom it must be said are willing absolutely to die**** for the family. Younger siblings that look up to their older sister as a guide and teacher not just as a playmate who when the chips are down a there for here with out hesitation and that older sister recognizes here responsibilities to them as guide and protector. In fact I’d say a big part of Merdia’s growth was in realizing the changing dynamics between her and her parents (primalry mother it must be said) as she approaches adult hood.
is a pernicious lie,…... . All it takes is one sufficiently powerful man who won't play the game--or who won't play it with her, since her power derives not simply from being a lady but from being a lady attached to a particular man--to take all her power away
well yes but couldn’t you say that about most if not all way’s of dealing with people/the world at lest to one degree or another? Not just talking about gender dynamics her but generally one of the way’s to cope if your losing is to “change the game/break the rules”.*** In fact I would say she dose have a way to deal with that sort of “take another option in the negotiations” ploy and it’s called Fergus the bear king. By the same token when Fergus finds himself in a situation that can’t be salved by strait force(or at least not optimally) or rough and ready battle field exhortation his solution would be Queen Eleanor of Dunbroch. To bring it back to the points above I don’t necasrly see the problem with that agine being part of a good partnership is filling in each others week spots.

Elinor may be a diplomat and a leader, but she is those things only because of who her husband is, and she maintains her power only on the sufferance of her husband and his vassals
But in the story as show can we say that? This is a young kingdom Fergus was made king of the clans(as apposed to chief of his clan) with in living memory. Can we say how much his rule depends on Elinor directly of not?

*my vary first thought was HTTYD crossover
**personally ‘eh good movies even really good but not quite the transcended product to which Brave is poorly compared to.
***there’s probley 50 odd pithy quotes for this but I couldn’t think of one off the top of my head
****or for that matter to kill, slightly different thing
Andrew Stevens said…
Abigail, perhaps I shouldn't have echoed your use of pernicious. I do believe there is an epidemic in certain populations of a lack of caution, but I honestly do doubt that warrior woman films have very much to do with it. I am probably being overly swayed by an anecdotal example from my own experience.

I would strongly favor more women's sports movies, by the way, which would do the job you want much better.

I'm not aware of any discriminated-against group that has gained its rights by asking for them politely.

Women are very different from any other discriminated-against group. Half of the ancestors of all men are women and vice versa. This fact alone makes analogies between gender relations and any other sort extremely problematic. Women received the right to vote in Wyoming without even asking for it. (They had been asking nationally, of course, but Wyoming went ahead without a single public demonstration or much in the way of public debate in 1869. When they were being admitted to the Union in 1890, they insisted on retaining suffrage, although they were asked by Congress to abandon it, and they got their way.) In the U.S., it wasn't until very late in the process, when women's suffrage was already more or less inevitable (waiting only for Woodrow Wilson to finally capitulate) before the militant tactics of U.K. suffragettes was brought into the country. I am aware, and do agree, that it was different in other countries, particularly the U.K.
Standback said…
I saw the film last week, and was sorely disappointed. I have difficulty even giving serious analysis when the movie seems like such a hodge-podge of recycled cliches. During the screening, I was struck by how very, very many of the core elements seemed cut and paste directly from Disney animated features - the Jasmine-ish "But I don't want to marry a prince" heroine; the Ursula-esque "Change everything, I'm desperate!" deal; the "transformation into an animal provides adversity which leads the protagonists to gain respect for each other" which was funnier in Emperor's New Groove and even in friggin' Brother Bear... Down to individual scenes and shots, like the archery contest or the angry mob setting after the bear with torches and pitchforks ("Kill the Beast!," anyone?).

The plotting and writing were simply sub-par - frankly, I was flabbergasted to see this level of writing from the usually-excellent Pixar. The beat-you-over-the-head-with-tension tapestry rip becomes a talisman we need to dwell over for the entire finale? A catching-fish-awkwardly montage makes everything all better? And worst of all - was it really so hard to give the central conflict some substance, something beyond the hollow back-and-forth "I wanna be adventurous and run around all day!" "No, you shall be shackled to the duties of the throne because I'm telling you it's important for some vague reason!" "You know, dears, I think the only way to settle this matter is to force Merida into an arbitrary unwanted marriage!". It's like they're not even trying. I'm pleased that they decided to portray a mother-daughter relationship, but they did an awfully poor job of it.

I just don't know what happened with the movie. The New Inquiry article makes a good case for an attempt to buck traditions established by previous movies, but if that was the goal, I think the actual story was lost in the process. They may have avoided some of the most egregious princess-y cop-outs, but they didn't substitute anything compelling instead - they just headed towards the same climaxes, but said "well, let's be sensible here" before taking the last step.

Or else they just really made a really mediocre movie.

Either way, I'm in full agreement with your disappointment that this should be the result of Pixar's first attempt at a female protagonist. I can only hope they'll have many more, set in one of their creative, inventive whirlwinds of worldbuilding. And that they'll get back in form.
Charlotte said…
Excellent and well written article! You hit on many of the points that I disliked about the film. I'm looking forward to the day that protagonists of films can be seen as universal - not a "boy's" story or a "girl's" story, but a story we can all relate to because we're human.

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