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Archive for February, 2010

Treasure Planet – Father hunger, in space!

February 17, 2010 2 comments

Treasure Planet is Disney’s ‘In Space!’ version of the classic novel, Treasure Island. It is the story of Jim, a troubled youth who is adrift in the world as he searches for his path and his purpose. The cause of his aimlessness is the loss of his father, at a fairly young age, leaving him unsure, sad and angry.

This is actually one of the most honest portrayals of fatherlessness I have seen in a film, especially a family cartoon.

The story begins with Jim as a happy, smiling, chubby child, enjoying story time with his mother. We then transition to teen-Jim, a rugged, obviously rebellious youth out for thrills.

We see all the problems he has been having, with the law, in school, communicating with his mother. It is only a ways in that we learn the trouble started when his father left. This is where the film begins to dig into the problems of fatherlessness, later on detailing Jim’s father’s departure in faded flashbacks.

Jim goes through all the problems which sons always experience when they grow up without a father (or even a father figure). Aggression without focus, a lack of drive, no discipline. All this stems from a lack of father involvement, a concept which is reinforced by Silver becoming Jim’s father figure, of sorts, which helps to give him some focus and helps to set him down the right path.

Jim eventually becomes caring, confident and focused, the things any good man should be.

What is important to remember is that these problems are not caused by a bad father (although they can be), but by an absent father, and this isn’t limited to fathers who willingly leave. Deceased fathers and those whom the mother leaves are also absent in the same way, having a similarly negative effect on their children.

While Treasure Planet only shows one situation which can lead to fatherlessness, it is honest enough about the problems and keeps the focus enough on Jim that it is not limited to talking only about fathers who left their families, but about missing dads in general. It doesn’t focus on the evil of the absent father, which keeps it from coming off as an attack on fathers. It focuses on the problems Jim faces, making the point without making fathers feel bad.

The feeling is that the problems don’t come from the father having left, but from him not being there, allowing the message to cover all reasons for absent fathers.

Another thing I like about the movie is how it handles Silver as a father figure. His positive effect on Jim is undeniable, but he is not played as a full replacement father for Jim. Too often movies will show new men stepping in to take the place of the biological father in the lives of children, but this usually doesn’t go so well.

Silver is really more a mentor, just one of the many roles of a father plays, but perhaps the most important to a young man approaching adulthood, like Jim.  This helps to give a sense of the absolute importance of fathers without trying to claim just any man can be a true father figure.

All in all, Treasure Planet is a fun movie, one of my favorite Disney movies, which tells a powerful tale of fatherlessness and a young man’s search for himself in the cosmos.

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Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian – How the mighty have fallen

February 12, 2010 6 comments

You can read my post on Night at the Museum here

As I said not so long ago, I quite enjoyed Night at the Museum. Its sequel, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, is quite a bit lacking in many ways, mostly to do with the ‘lead’ character, Larry.

The character of Larry is devoid of most of his charm in several ways, differing greatly from his previous screen appearance and giving a much weaker performance overall.

Firstly, Larry’s role as a father barely comes into it at all. His son is only in the movie for a few brief scenes and there is no real interaction there. Nor is Larry’s struggle with his ex-wife covered in any way. This side of the character seems to have just vanished.

Larry is also lacking the sense of empathy shown in the first movie. Beyond a brief pep-talk to Col. Mustard, he doesn’t really interact with the exhibits much. This also has him much more out of control than he was before. In the first movie, he worked with the exhibits to get problems resolved, but little of that leadership, problem solving ability and sensitivity is seen here, leaving us with a story which tries to be frantic but lacks any intelligence to hold it up.

Larry also lacks any sense of control over his own actions. I commented on how he was actually surprisingly confident in the first film, but this time he spends most of the film getting pushed/dragged around by Amelia. He is almost disturbingly submissive to her, just following alongside and not really doing much of anything, expect a bit of combat in the final confrontation.

Another example of the stereotype of men only being any good with a weapon, and then never against a woman.

I quite appreciated the first movie’s tendency toward having Larry win with knowledge, not with strength of arms. All that is gone however, leaving us with a rather empty character who you wouldn’t really miss had he just been edited out altogether.

Overall, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian has a much weaker male lead who is basically tagging along after his female co-star. You barely know he is a dad, or even alive for that matter.

WFP Women’s Food Entitlement – The key word really is ‘entitlement’

February 4, 2010 11 comments

Beard Reel is mostly about media, but some things in politics simply must be discussed.

The recent earth quake disaster in Haiti has been in all the news, and rightly so. It was a truly devastating event which has left the country in ruin. It is extremely important that other nations help them to re-establish livable conditions.

However, I think the U.N. may be a bit confused on how to do that.

As reported on here, the World Food Program has a policy (readable here) which directs that all food resources be given out exclusively to women, as in ‘no boys allowed’.

The logic arises from the issues women can face in obtaining food when they have to confront larger, stronger men vying for the same resources. To resolve this the U.N. decided to just ban men all together from the food distribution compounds. They also seem to think that women are somehow better suited to the distribution of food.

This is messed up on so many levels that I’m not even sure where to start, but I’ll try.

First, there is the obvious (like the moon) flaw in this system: it excludes half the adult population! Apparently the WFP is going to take steps to ensure all the men get fed, but that is planned for stage 2, some time in the future. Too bad many of those men won’t live that long.

If it seems obvious that this is an attempt at unfairly empowering women, that’s because it is. That is one of the official reasons for it. Since empowering people is so important, I guess the old patriarchal system wasn’t so bad. In Haiti we are empowering women by giving them control over the food, something they are apparently better at using. By that logic, it was good that we used to give all the jobs to men, since they are better at them, empowering them to be better people. Empowerment is what really matters.

Seems fair to me.

What they are calling equality is pure sexism.

The men of Haiti are now going to have to go through women for their food, leaving them in a potentially life threatening position of submission. This leaves them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, just as women are said to have been in the past age of patriarchy.

If that was unequal, how is this any more equal?

As an additional insult to men, it seems the WFP intends for them to work as body guards to earn their supper:

The women are encouraged to bring male family members or friends to wait for them outside the distribution compound, to protect them and help them take their food home.

So the women are the only ones suited to get and distribute the food, but men are still expected to go out of their way to protect these women, and then have to rely on them to get any food.

It seems to me that it would have been easier to just ban women from the food centers. Then everyone would have been on the same physical standing, and the people could have protected the food themselves.

The misandry in this whole policy is mind-boggling, but I think the worst part of it is how it blatantly insults countless generations of male sacrifice. For millennia, it has been men (and often boys) who have died on the hunt, in the field, down the mine shaft and on the assembly line to provide food for their family, including their women. Now the WFP is insisting that women can better serve as primary providers and so should be given the food. However, they still need protection from men, not that the men should receive anything special for providing that protection. This is the first time I have heard of a group being expected to be both submissive to and protective of another group.

They just spit in the face of every man who has ever died for his family.

Maybe it’s time for someone to spit back.

Categories: Politics Tags: , , , , ,

A Knight’s Tale – Prove yourself!

February 1, 2010 2 comments

I want to start by saying that I actually enjoyed A Knight’s Tale (and it has a nice father-son relationship). While not a masterpiece, it was a fun movie. I am not going to criticize it, but there is a theme in it which I find interesting and which appears in many parts of the media.

What I speak of is the concept of a man ‘proving his love’, as we see in A Knight’s Tale. In this film, this young would-be-knight is asked to prove his love to the fair lady. He does so, winning her heart and all such stuff.

This plot element is common, not only in knightly tales but in many forms of drama. It often takes the form of men changing themselves or their life styles drastically. It is also not just fictional, as such activities have been going on through much of history.

Now, I have no problem with someone going out of their way to prove their love (although it seems a bit rude to tell someone to prove their love to you). What I find interesting is that it only ever seems to be men who do this proving, both historically and in media.

I can only think of a very few cases where a woman has had to prove her love to a man. And when a man does want a woman to prove her love, he is usually portrayed as a jerk who the women soon dumps. I wonder why that is.

It obviously isn’t completely a modern media construct, since there are examples of it going back many thousands of years. However, one might have expected to see women doing such deeds of daring do after feminism graced our shores, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Men are still apparently expected, in many cases, to demonstrate their loyalty.

I actually find the contradiction in this rather amusing. Throughout history, men have often been held to the highest standards of honesty and honor. A man’s word is his oath, as it were. On the other hand, you have women, who have often had the reputation of being manipulative and not so prone to keeping their word.

Yet here we see how a man’s loyalty must be proven, while a woman’s is taken for granted.

The reason for all this, as given in A Knight’s Tale, is that a woman doesn’t want to

Uncross her legs for nothing.

That is understandable, in a world where any intimate relationship could lead to pregnancy, and with no courts to enforce paternal responsibility.

However, that is no longer the case. Contraception gives women fairly complete control over pregnancy, and if there is one thing our courts actually do it is enforce paternal responsibility (if not paternal rights, but that’s a different issue).

That would make you think that men shouldn’t need to prove any special loyalty, since a woman will only take on extra responsibility from a relationship (ie, motherhood) if she wishes it.

It seems then that it would make sense that both men and women are equally responsible for their own loyalty and that neither should have anything extra to prove.

If anything, in this world of paternity fraud, mother-centric family courts, abusive restraining orders and unfair domestic violence policies, it is women who should have to prove that they will not take advantage of their partners.

Yet it seems men still must prove themselves.

For equality’s sake, I guess we should start having women wrestle wild animals to prove their love.

I know some hungry mountain lions out in the hills. We could have cougar-versus-cougar matches. Any takers?

Categories: Film Tags: , , , ,