Brave, the Oscars and the Scottish Cringe.

25 February 2013

1:47 PM

25 February 2013

1:47 PM

Hurrah for Brave, the little movie that could! And did! All Scotland salutes her Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Another triumph for the plucky underdogs at Disney-Pixar.

That, at any rate, is the Scottish government’s view. This “Scottish film” (according to the SNP’s official twitter feed) is another example of Caledonian excellence. Only pedants and churls – of which the country possesses no shortage – can fail to be stirred by the movie’s victory in a minor Oscar category.

Well, of course, there’s nothing wrong with liking Brave – a perfectly decent movie – and nothing wrong with preferring it to animated movies you most probably have not seen. But, really, there’s something desperate, something dispiriting, about pretending that its success owes anything significant to its setting. If Brave is a “Scottish film” then the latest version of Les Miserables is a triumph of French cinema. Somehow, however, I doubt Francois Holland felt the need to associate himself with that sprawling mess. The French have no need to debase themselves in such a fashion.

Moreover, by these standards Brigadoon is also a triumph of “Scottish” cinema even though the movie’s producers found nowhere in Scotland that looked sufficiently Scottish in which to film it. The suggestion that all Scots should somehow be cheered by Pixar’s latest triumph, allowing us to bask in some modest measure of reflected glory, makes about as much sense as “supporting” a production of Macbeth at the Olivier awards.


Again, there’s little wrong with Brave. But it was depressing to witness nationalists (on Twitter, chiefly) complaining that the BBC had (initially) failed to afford Disney’s latest triumph the space, attention and recognition it deserved. Was this, the inference went, because the movie was set in Scotia? Oh dear.

Similarly, it was suggested that only the sourest-spirited Unionist could fail to be cheered by this movie’s success. Again, the implication was that if you weren’t aboard the Team Brave bandwagon you were guilty of “talking Scotland down” or some such other example of pompous tommyrot.

Worse still, noting that it is daft to claim a movie as “Scottish” simply because it happens to be set in a fictional, fantasy Scotland was, I was told, clear evidence that the naysayer was crippled by the famous Scottish cringe.

But, actually, I think the cringe factor works the other way round. It is one thing to boast of the country’s real successes, quite another to invent them in the first place. There’s nothing especially grievous about the mythical Scotland in which Brave is set but I’d only note – in passing – that this romantic, fantastical Scotland often tends to provoke left-wing (and some nationalist) ire when it’s delivered by the wrong people (you can guess who they are).  Perhaps there is a Disney exception.

The Scottish government cannot be accused of missing an opportunity for grandstanding, however. The First Minister attended the movie’s premiere in California while VisitScotland and Disney arranged for a tourism campaign costing a reported £7m. A nice piece of corporate welfare, that. And who knows, perhaps Brave will persuade some folk to take their vacation in Scotland rather than elsewhere. Perhaps. Not much harm in that.

Nevertheless, Mr Salmond’s suggestion that Braveflies the flag for Scotland” is nonsensical. All this relentless boosterism becomes wearisome. It doth protest too much. It reminds one of Sally Fields’ gushing, toe-curling Oscar acceptance speech in which she breathlessly declared: ‘I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!’

The cringe lies not with those largely indifferent to Brave’s success but with those who suggest we should be flattered – nay, honoured! – by the fact that an American movie company chose to set a cartoon in Scotland rather than in Iceland, Transylvania, Peru or any one of a thousand other locations that could just as easily satisfied the movie’s story demands. Look at us! Just look at us! Hollywood loves us! There is something oddly demeaning about this.

It’s a good wee movie. If you liked it then, sure, be happy it has done well. But, really, it’s got next to nothing to do with us and pretending that it does risks making you seem slightly silly. A truly confident country – or political sensibility – wouldn’t need to make exaggerated claims for it.

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Show comments
  • terregles2

    Oh Dear
    The Britnatz cringe is back.BBC biased as ever, is cringing away from the latest Westminster Government GERS figures. Refuses to debate them because they show Scotland’s economy is in a much better position than the dowgraded triple credit rating for the UK.
    No doubt they will double the scaremongering tactics.

  • terregles2

    Really the BritNats are clutching at straws now. Suppose we must get used to more nonsense from them as they are fast running out of logical argument. Desperate and dispirited rather an apt description of Mr Massie. Think we deserve better.

  • Theuniondivvie

    I wonder when Mr Massie will provide a similar dissection of the latest iteration of the American owned Bond franchise? The pathetically insecure, nationalist self-aggrandising that film has produced has been a sight to behold.

    • dercavalier

      Hear, hear! And doesn’t it sit well with the rabid BritNatz Festivities of last year? Np doubt Eddie will have an anti-Scottish rant claiming that it was all Scotland’s fault.

      • Wessex Man

        Oh dear, do you want to read, or get someone to read for you theuniondivve again?

  • Charles Patrick O’Brien

    Read the comments what a load of nonsense,so childish in some and churlish in others.

  • JohnMcDonaldish

    So Visit Scotland includes Brave and its publicity in its marketing mix because the agency estimates it will help in reaching their objectives. The film goes on to win an Oscar and Salmond does his job as First Minister and praises the film’s success.

    Which one lives in Brigadoon? Salmond or Massie?

    Whit next??

  • Maureen Luby

    Oooooooooh! Sour grapes anyone! lol

  • Eddie

    A while ago Salmond was singing the praises of Iceland saying how Scotland’s banking system could be as successful ad theirs. Oh dear…
    Then he praised Royal Bank of Scotland – which the English taxpayer had to bail out. Oh double dear.
    Now he clings – as desperately as a rat to a turd – to some mediocre movie portraying a fabricated history (just like Braveheart then) which is about as Scottish as Scotch eggs or other things no invented in Scotland (bagpipes, Welsh-invented whisky).
    This really is desperate – but the paradigm is always the same with wee nationalists, and it goes something like this: ‘We the true Scottish are the perpetual victims fighting bravely against the English enemy, who are much bigger than us, so that’s the only reason they always win!’
    It is all just sad really. Alex Salmond is to Scottishness what Andrea Dworkin was to women. A hate-filled haggis of weirdness, in other words.
    At least The Welsh has Shirley Bassey singin’ at the Oscars!

    • dercavalier

      And here we have a third or is it the fourth anti-Scottish racist rant. He is either a demented Englishman or worse a demented Labour supporting Scot.

    • terregles2

      BritNats are just so dreary and negative. Hate filled haggis of weirdness? Salmond thinks the country that he lives in should govern itself. What is weird or hate filled about that?
      Some English people living in Scotland my neighbours included are voting for independence. If people living in Scotland feel that Scotland would be better governed from Edinburgh what is wrong with that? Every country in the world governs itself. Why is Sotland the only country that should not do the same?
      Why do the BritNats have to denigrate one politician. Is it because they cannot put forward a logical argument against Independence.
      Independencer has nothing to do with Salmond he might not even be First Minister after Independence. Scotland will be here long after the present politicians are long gone.
      What Andrea Dworkin was to women. That statement suggests that your grasp of feminist issues is perhaps on a par with your grasp of the Independence issue.

  • terence patrick hewett


    • Wessex Man


  • Johnny Purves

    Unimaginative warblings from a unionist, Your type never ceases to amuse me massie. I’m laughing in the face of your hate filled ignorance for all things Scottish. The fact you actually get paid to write drivel like this actually gives hope to the uneducated. You sir are a buffoon. I long for the day your type pack your bags,

  • Peter A Bell

    A pedant or churl might well be defined as someone who, for their own petty purposes, dismisses Best Animated Feature as a “minor Oscar category”.

    Being neither a pedant nor a churl myself I am satisfied that the government is supporting the marketing exercise built around Brave which is set to benefit the country’s tourist industry by several millions of much-needed pounds.

    I certainly don’t see any great political significance in the movie. I doubt if anybody does. Other, that is, than those who are always alert for an excuse – however contrived – to snipe at the Scottish Government and/or the SNP.

    So really, which Alex is making exaggerated claims, here? Which Alex is evincing the worst Scottish cringe? Salmond? Or Massie?

  • dougthedug

    It’s a cartoon about a Scottish Princess, set in Scotland where 11 out the top 15 characters in the cast are Scots and that includes the main character.

    VisitScotland reckon that one in five people are inspired to visit a destination having seen it on film or on television and they’ve actually made a website featuring Brave to lure visitors to Scotland. Estimates for the boost to the Scottish economy are about £150 Million.

    The First Minister Alex Salmond said, “Mark Andrews’ wonderful depiction of Scotland continues to bring excitement and delight to those who see it and I am certain that winning the top prize in the movie business will now mean it is seen and enjoyed by even more people right across the world.”

    In other words, quids in for Scotland.

    I’m not sure where you get all this “plucky underdog” stuff and or who’s pretending that it got an Oscar because it is set in Scotland.

    So what’s got you foaming at the mouth about all this Alex? Is it that like Braveheart, love it or loathe it, it is set in a Scotland which is not defined as part of Britain?

  • Austin Barry

    Surely, the SNP must claim as its own that apotheosis of Scottish ingenuity, business acumen and creativity, the splendid chain of West Highland restaurants which have, from the unlikely base of Glencoe, conquered the world: McDonalds.

  • Ron Kane

    In years to come the SNP will re-write history. They will claim to have despised Brave all along.

    Just as now they claim that anyone daring to suggest the SNP bought the Braveheart propaganda is a braying fool. They want to forget that SNP branches picketed Braveheart screenings with recruitment leaflets and that at the time they pitched it has the ultimate Nationalist feel-good movie. Only a decade of their opponents pointing out that Braveheart was filmed in Ireland, using the Irish Army as extras to an American-Australian actor with a pronounced Anti-English streak to his movies caused them to disown it in public. But I bet each one of them has the Directors Cut Blu-Ray in the house.

    • dercavalier

      You are bloody right I have the Braveheart Movie on my shelf. And I’m not an SNP member. It was a superb film about Scotland and any Scot who says differently is a cringing idiot. It received multiple Oscars and even the English enjoyed it. Yes the details were not historically correct but the basic facts were all there. A man called Sir William Wallace stood up for his country against a tyrant, raised an army and defeated the tyrant in battle. He was then betrayed by some of his fellow countrymen for English gold and was tortured to death in London by a megalomaniac. You, Kane and your Labour supporters hate it because it shows Scotland in a superb light.

      • Eddie

        Braveheart was a rubbish movie, starring an English-hating catholic weirdo, and won at the Oscars because of a haggis hectoring campaign. It was and is not a good movie. Utter dodgy tosh – and fabricated history, which most Scots seem unaware of.
        The dates are wrong’; the characters are wrong (one died before another was born in real history); and the fighting depicted was largely between mercenaries from mainland Europe, not Scots v English (like some sillly pigs bladder Wemberley mash-up). Scotland did not exists as a country at the time of Braveheart – and indeed, modern Scotland is a recent creation, and most Scottish traditions and symbols of Scottishness were invented by the Victorian English and the Borders bard, Walter Scott. Oh dear. Even the Welsh monks invented whisky on Bardsey Island!
        Maybe why nationalist Engliah-hating racists like you adore it so much eh? If an Englishman shared your hateful bigoted nationalism (and that exhibited by Salmond et al) then his natural home would be the BNP (no actually, they are too liberal for you).

        • albacridhe

          I would think most Scots would be able to recognise the film for what it is. history being part of the curriculum and all. Perhaps if you bothered yourself with any Scottish history you wouldn’t make unsubstantiated statements about the non existence of Scotland as a country at that period – since there exists plenty of evidence to the contrary.

        • dercavalier

          Again another bigoted and racist rant. And he doesn’t even know he’s doing it. How stupid can you be? And he confirms his stupidity by not knowing that Scotland was a country with King, church et al when the Angles, Jutes and Saxons were still living in mud huts somewhere in Eastern Europe. The Scottish Kingdom of Alba or Scots was formed ca 800 AD

          • Eddie

            Ooooo temper temper!
            An English-hating Scots nationalist nutter calling me racist and bigoted.
            Almost as big a joke as Rab C Salmond himself!
            Scotland was not a kingdom until the 11th century, dumbl – so is a lot younger than England. Saxons in mud huts? Errrr…why don’t you leave you haggis love-in and visit the big bad city of London, jimmy, and admire the Anglo-saxon treasures at the British museum.
            BTW DNA tests show that there is no significant difference between the ancetsry of Scots, Welsh and English. A few Anglo-saxons and Normans came over to create England – however, they ruled an already existing population! Your Scots nats history is utter fantasy – there is more historical fact on Dr Who, son!

            • dercavalier

              Are you REALLY dumb or do you work at it all the time? If you are Scottish, and with your racist anti-Scots rages, you just could be a Labour nut case, and a totally uneducated whacko. But if you are English then you are just the usual half educated dumbo from south of the border.
              We had Celtic treasures long before the Anglo-Saxons new what treasure was. And what a joke you are if you’re English. You ‘ve obviously not heard of the Big Battle at Hastings in 1066 when the French conquered what at the time were a bunch of different illiterate tribes and made them slaves.

              • albacridhe

                A quick peek at Mr Eddies rants on various subjects will confirm a hatred for pretty much anyone who isnt just exactly the same as him (including all Scots, Americans and the entire nation of Islam). I shouldn’t try to apply any education here – like trying to spit on a bush-fire.

                • dercavalier

                  It’s allright Alba. I’m just winding him up.You cannot educate racists. They do not have enough brains for that. He’s also been taken in by the English myth that it was ‘The Normans’ who enslaved them. When everyone knows it was the French.

                • Eddie

                  All Scots nationalists like you are racist scumbags,. The biggest bigots in all Britain.
                  YOu do not know the difference between the Normans (ie Viking-led oppressed northern French people – in places England owned later like Calais and Normandy) and the French (ie those who live in the centralised 15th century creation which includes the south).
                  Still, no surprise there. I have heard that Scottish school are rubbish and you are living proof.
                  You probably also think that Stephenson invented the train 9he didn’t – Trevithick did) and that the Scots invented whisky (errr that was monks opn Bardsey Island, Wales), or that the Scots culture included all the stuff that Walter Scott and the Victorian English invented.
                  You great big Haggis-hugger, you!

                • dercavalier

                  I am LOTFLMAO because I’ve just noted that Sheep sha66er eddie thinks that Stephenson was Scottish. My God where do they educate you lot. Up to the end of primary school only?

                • Eddie

                  I meant Watt. He didn’t invent anything either, of course.

              • Eddie

                You and your wee laddies from the Scots nats are ALL racists and bigots. Just listen to yourself and what your commandant says about the English! Offensive racist twaddle.

                The French did not conquer England. The Normans did – they were in fact Vikings (the grandfather of William was a Viking, and probably a legit claimant to the throne anyway). They replaced the ruling class, but not many came here – maybe 1% of the population. They did not enslave anyone, dumbo!

                Scotland is a younger country than England – and as a young country it is full of bigoted nationalist ignoramus hotheads likle you who fabricate history and pretend you have past greatness that you can again achieve. Zzzzz…..

                What you think of as Scottish was invented by the Victorian English and Walter Scott actually; not much that you would recognise as Scottish from over 300 years ago.

                Oh and genetically there is no significant difference between the residents of Scotland (Picts, Gaekic Scots, Vikings, Anglo-Saxons) and the English. Look at the DNA science, not you silly ‘pure Scottish blood’ racist fantasy.

                That’s perhaps one reason why there is little difference between Scots and English culture either – except for religious bigotry and secretarianism, which you do so well north of the border.

                • Aitch-Aitch

                  Eddit….Decavalier is correct… must be dumb…..dumber than dumb in fact. Sir – you are an idiot!

                • Eddie

                  If you keep ranting to yourself like that you’ll start to resemble the many drunken Scottish immigrants in London whose careers seem to involve standing on pavements and in parks, knockig back tins of tennants super, and vomiting abuse at passers-by.
                  Yah great big numpty yah!

        • Spammo Twatbury

          “and won at the Oscars because of a haggis hectoring campaign”

          Yes, the Academy is famous for being susceptible to “hectoring campaigns” run by minor (Braveheart pre-dated the Scottish Parliament) political parties most Americans have never heard of in small countries thousands of miles away.

          Honestly, can you even hear yourself spouting this pish?

      • Kennybhoy

        Dercavalier! How is my favourite cybernatic troll!

        Are you oor Wilhelm’s Scottish cousin or maybe even the man himself in disguise? 🙂

        You do realize that your every keystroke confirms Maister Massie’s analysis?

        Speaking of “Braveheart”…

        You never did get back to me about that nasty wee incident at the film’s Stirling premiere back in ’96…

        • dercavalier

          I have never heard of you and I haven’t a clue what you are on about.

        • Eddie

          What’s most hilarious is when this haggis-raping ranter accuses everyone else of being racist for saying what they see – and pointing out the utter bigotry and racism of Scots nationalists.

          • dercavalier

            Well at least I’m not a bum shagger like the English.

            • Eddie

              Brilliant! So the Scots Nat bigot calls all English people homosexual as an insult – thereby provig my point that Scots nationalists are bigots and racists and backwards. You are like the Scottish Taliban, the SNP. With Sadman Salmond desperate to create his Caledonian caliphate, a cult of personality based around his own greasy self.

              And if you think bum shagging doesn’t happen in Scotland, then you are obviously a numpty. Often keep it in the family up there though, or on the farm…

          • terregles2

            Not sure how Scottish Nationalists are bigoted and racist. Why does wanting to govern you own country mean you are racist. Quite a few English people living in Scotland vote independence and indeed some of our welcome Polish and Asian residents are campaiging for it as well.
            We are all Jock Tamson’s bairns and pathetic attempts to label anyone voting for Independence as racist will really not work.

  • Jim Fraser

    Oh, Alex, this was such a non-story. One cannot expect to make the jump up from the throwaway blog section to the grown up bit of the paper with stuff like this. Even if Fraser Nelson personally asks you to write a piece like this, it would be better to just to miss the deadline. Does your growing reputation as a writer worth reading no good at all.

    • CraigStrachan

      Hmm. I’ve never thrown a blog away. I throw the paper bit away all the time.

  • CraigStrachan

    Maybe the Nats see a parable in the story of Merida, a plucky, independent-minded wee girl who is determind to take her own path in life?

  • Spammo Twatbury

    This is sour-spirited stuff indeed, and stuffed with straw men. Brave was populated by almost entirely Scottish actors, something Brigadoon can’t claim. Was “Curse Of The Were-Rabbit” not “British” because it was financed and produced by the (very much American) DreamWorks?

    It was ludicrous of BBC News to spend two hours this morning fawning over the Oscars and not MENTION – not even once in passing – that a movie full of Scots (and English) actors had taken a major prize, and even more pathetic for numerous Unionists to say openly on social media that they were attacking the movie because “Alex Salmond politicised it”.

    Focusing entirely on the “fictitious” setting – rather than the entirely real Scottish cast – as an excuse to deny any Scottish/British interest in this fine movie’s success is churlish, disingenuous and far beneath your normal standards. And I’d have voted for Wreck-It Ralph.

    • dercavalier

      Spammo Twatbury

      I agree. What has taken hold of Massie to come
      out with twaddle like that? He should be proud that the film is a
      success. But then it is typical of Scottish Unionists to put their own
      land down. And for the BritNatz to disown it because of Alex Salmond’s
      efforts to boost it, that is disgraceful. What kind of people are they? I
      suppose the kind that would only be found amongst the cringers in
      Scotland and nowhere else on the planet. They and Massie are a sad, sad,
      The BBC too are a pathetic shower. Has it been
      instructed by Westminster that it must either not show any Scottish
      successes or if they do show anything that it must be downplayed?

    • Ron Kane

      The story was written by 4 Americans. Directed by 2 of those Americans, financed and created by the US Pixar and distributed by Disney. At least the man who invented Wallace and Grommit was English.

      It more suggests that the Americans simply hired British voice talent to work on their otherwise American production.

      • Spammo Twatbury

        “The story was written by 4 Americans. Directed by 2 of those Americans,
        financed and created by the US Pixar and distributed by Disney.”

        I know all that. What’s your point?

        • porridge_time

          The point is that it was about Scotland and we Scots should not be allowed to have any feel good factors.

        • La Fold

          I think it was the fact that it was described as a Scottish film is the point.

          • Wessex Man

            None of the above, your kids should be watching it not you!

          • Spammo Twatbury

            By whom? Actual examples, please, not just “some cybernats”.

      • dercavalier

        God! You are even more sour and bitter than Massie. Go and suck a sweetie.

        • Eddie

          Exactly, Ron Kane! Dercavalier, you are as sour and bitter as all Scots nationalists.

          If this movie is Scottish then ‘Lincoln’ is Welsh (well, Abe’s great grandparents were Welshies)

          Why do hateful hissing spittting bigoted Scots (mostly Picts actually and Irish – ie Scots in the original usage) always think they represent Scotland anyway. Talk to people from the Borders, the Highlands and Islands – outside the city slums of the underclass and the Catholic Western-Islanders.

          Moreover, lots of Scots in London and England left Scotland to get away from the macho, drunken, religious, bigoted, homophobic culture – at least 50 years behind England – that exists there. Not my words – but those of Scots I have known over the last 30 years who live in England and Wales, and indeed outside the UK.

          Scotland is not Alex Salmond; Alex Salmond is NOT Scotland. Though he is behaving like a tartan tyrant already, it seems…

          • dercavalier

            Just read what you have written in the cold light of day, If ever there was a bigoted rant you have just made it. And why would Scots want to go to England? A place so forlorn and lost that the main occupation of the populace is to get drunk and lie in their vomit in their town centres every weekend.

            • Eddie

              ‘A place so forlorn and lost that the main occupation of the populace is to get drunk and lie in their vomit in their town centres every weekend.’
              Aye laddie, but they’re all Scots – (three quarters of drunk park arena persons in London are Scottish or Irish).
              Surely getting drunk is something the Scots do very well actually. Your description of Glasgow is spot-on though.

              • Wessex Man

                I wouldn’t bother if I were you Eddie, this little ranter can rant for a week against we wicked English but will still vote to stay in the Union when he realises that without all the English handouts he will run out of his bacci and booze pretty quick and will have no one himself to blame for his stupor.

                • Eddie

                  Indeed. Without English subsidy, Scotland would look like Albania, not Norway. Most north sea oil is not in Scottish waters anyway – and they#d have to repay us the cost of finding and exploiting it, plus give the English a rebate for all our subsidy over the decades. Scotland still gets 10% more public spending than England or Wales – and far too much influence too. Still, let them have their flagwaving and tubthumping.
                  Most Scots know which side their bread is buttered for sure. And as always most of the noise comes from the shallow end of the swimming pool…

                • Spammo Twatbury

                  I think that’s the most factually-illiterate ignorance I’ve ever seen compressed into a single paragraph. Well done!

                • Eddie

                  And you Scottish Nationalist bigots are so busy spewing your abuse, vitriol, racist, bigotry, straw man insults and ad hominem attacks to have the self-awareness of the mountain of ignorant dung that farts out of your mouths continually.
                  Why not address the issues? For example, the dire finances of Scotland, the way it gets massive subsidies from England, the fact that a great deal of money and business will leave an independent Scotland, or the fact that most Scots most certainly do not want independence.

                • terregles2

                  Most Scots do not want independence you may be right. The thing is there are quite a few of my English neighbours here who are voting for it.

                • terregles2

                  You should really stop encouraging Eddie to spout such hatred and poison. He sounds so full of rage and hatred he might have a stroke. Try and encourage him to be calm. Apart from that it is embarrasssing for English people living in Scotland to see such venom and rubbish.

      • porridge_time

        All this anger and bitterness over a feel good animated movie based in Scotland… imagine what it would be like if there was a spy thriller made about the McCrone report.