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Finding Nemo – A fish and his father

March 18, 2010 3 comments

Finding Nemo, one of the movies from the famed filmmakers at Pixar, is an aquatic adventure story set in the depths around Australia. It is a touching story of a widower and his only son, although both happen to be fish.

However, the cold blooded nature of the stars does not subtract one bit from the warmth of this family film which beautifully portrays the relationship between a father and son, as well as all their growth.

The namesake of the film, Nemo, is a young fish who never knew his mother. Since Nemo has a damaged fin, his father is very protective of him. Over protectiveness seems to be a common trait among parents, especially fathers, and this is the source of the conflict Nemo has with his father, Marlin.

Marlin, a widower before his children were even born (hatched), is a fantastic father figure. At first he is over protective, but that’s not entirely a bad thing, and once Nemo goes missing he sets out on his quest to find his son. Marlin demonstrates amazing dedication to his child, never wavering in his determination to find Nemo, no matter where in the ocean he may be. He faces all perils and all challenges to find his boy. Anyone who says men like to abandon their children should pay close attention to Marlin. They could learn a thing from this fish.

Beside Marlin, the importance of fathers is also praised in Finding Nemo by the character Bruce, the great white shark. A reformed carnivore, Bruce laments at the fact that he ‘never knew his father *sobs*’, further reaffirming the importance of fathers to children.

Come to think of it, Crush the turtle is also a good father figure. Something of a foil to Marlin, he allows his son to be very independent, letting him seek his own boundaries while also always being there when needed and encouraging his son in his exploration.

Through the movie, Nemo and Marlin both grow tremendously, Marlin as a father and Nemo toward his…well, ‘manhood’, if only in the fish sense.

Marlin must come to grips with the fact every parent must face, that their children are growing up. However, I greatly prefer how Finding Nemo shows this to many other portrayals. Often the analogy of children ‘leaving the nest’ is used, signifying the children separating from the parents. However, Marlin simply comes to understand what Nemo is capable of and to trust his judgment. There is none of the forced separation which is so common in American families.

It is not so much letting go as coming to be mutually holding on to each other.

Nemo also has to grow, to find his own limits and confidence. Being the impetuous youth, Nemo does not lack guts in the start, but he does have to find his self-belief, overcoming his fears to be able to do his best, taking a step toward being a good adult.

Through the whole movie, Marlin and Nemo show a deep bond which never wavers, even when they get angry with one another. Marlin never stops looking for his son and Nemo never stops trying to find a way to return to his father. It is a heart warming depiction of father and son which will remind anyone of how dedicated fathers are.

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The Incredibles – A super-man, but is he a super-dad?

January 26, 2010 2 comments

The Incredibles is one of my favorite Pixar movies, employing a great visual style to tell an eternally entertaining story which puts some great twists on the superhero genre.

At its core, Incredibles is a family story which centers on the father of that family, Mr. Incredible (I’ll call him Bob for short).

As so many men do (and as so many films portray), Bob is going through a mid-life crisis. The only problem is that he is a retired superhero, so he naturally wants to get back in the hero game.

The hero motif allows Incredibles to really dig into some of the issues of a man’s mid-life crisis in ways which less fanciful movies can’t. The major theme is Bob’s quest for ‘strength’, metaphorically shown through his urge to be a literally-Strong superhero once more.

However, as the film goes on it becomes clear that this is much more about inner-strength.

Bob needs to prove to himself that he is still worth something, that he can still be a hero for his family. What it really comes down to is self-esteem, a topic not often discussed in regards to men. While some men have a mid-life crisis mostly for themselves, Bob’s is really more about his family. Although he is suspected of it, he never cheats on his wife and he does genuinely love his family. He is seeking to be worth something to his family, not just to himself.

Toward the end of the movie Bob shows a nicely emotional side, undergoing great distress when he thinks his family has been killed. He wrestles with grief and rage, until he is finally and lovingly reunited with his family. He finally gets to see them as heroes too as they all work together to overcome the challenges before them, the love between all the family members deepened because of it.

Men are often taught to try to do everything themselves, and Incredibles touches on this in its conclusion, but not in a critical way. Bob tries to protect his family from all harm, possibly at the cost of his own life, because he cannot bear to ‘lose them again’. However, his family stands by him and his wife insists that they face all the dangers together, as a family. Bob isn’t criticized for wanting to fight alone, he is just lovingly offered help.

The Incredibles is a fun family adventure about a superhero’s struggles for identity and self-esteem. It shows a sincere, believable and loving family who stand by each other, including a wife who truly loves her husband and is determined to stay with him and a husband who must grapple with his own self-image as he tries to be there for his family.

LEGO “Build Together: House” commercial – Father and son, building a better world

December 21, 2009 Leave a comment

In ancient times, sons often worked with and learned from their fathers. In the industrialized world, this does not go on so much. Men usually only have a chance to spend time with their children while not working, but even this is often difficult. However, there are some hobbies which are perfect for fathers and sons to take up together, and it seems LEGO is making itself one of them:

Here we have one of the classic accelerated-building LEGO commercials, but it is not one of the kits. It is a father and son team building a free form house. This brings back memories for me, as I have often enjoyed free-style LEGO building. But personal feelings aside, this ad also has many good points in its portrayal of men:

  1. A Father and Son Team: It shows a man and his son working together on a project. They are skilled (even if only at a hobby) and they complete their project well, both happy with their work and with one another.
  2. Creativity: This ad actually encourages creativity, something not often seen in advertising. It is free form building and the narrator clearly states that the two builders have differing styles, each bringing odd, imaginative components to the construction.
  3. Respect for the Job: It is often said that many men work too much. At the same time, many hobbies for men are mocked to some degree or another. Usually the only thing for men to do is sports, but that isn’t immune either. This ad shows a man doing and enjoying an actually playful hobby, and one he can do with his children, and he isn’t even made to look silly for doing it.

Scenes like this are what could actually help to get men back into their families. Many sons and daughters miss out on time with their fathers, either because of too much work or divorce. Men need activities like this they can do with their children to help bring them closer together, which could in turn help improve men’s relationships with their wives.

Men need to feel comfortable at home, with their families, so that they do not feel required to over-work. People often use the phrase ‘boys and their toys’, and men do enjoy toys, things of play, and helping men to have a chance to enjoy such things of play with their children could lead to much deeper family bonds.

The next step would be to show the hobby being done with open acceptance from women.

Hear that, ladies? The LEGOs are come’n into the living room!

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