Let me tell you what this article is not about, first. This is not a writeup protesting women empowerment or battle of the sexes. Our very own, Andy, wrote an article on how Cars 3 is not an example of feministic propaganda.
This article is about highlighting and praising the rare cases where fathers and husbands not only strive to be a good role model, but are respected in their own home. The lack of father-like qualities in films these days are a pressing issue in our modern culture that negatively reflects poorly on the father’s authority over their children. The lack of a husband’s leadership role in film storylines, diminishes the love and respect that the husbands’ family has for their father. Of course, it is easier to love and respect the husbands and fathers who are committed and respectful to their wives and children.
If I were to write an article about a list of films where fathers and husbands are the joke of the family, I could easily come up with a list of 25 off the top of my head. In a culture where we are told to respect others, listen to our leaders of authority, and accept everyone, it sure does seem backwards when it comes to fatherhood. No agenda-pushing screen writer or public figure actor would openly admit it, but the unwritten rules to fatherhood and husbands in American film making are as follows.
- The father needs to be seen, as incapable of handling several things at once.
- The wife, if present, clearly has more power on decision making or approval of the children’s permissions. (“Whatever your mother says”.)
- If the father is not present from the start of the story, it is usually because of his life choices. If the mother is not present at the start, often it is because she passed away. Of course, there are many exceptions here.
- Either the wife or child/children are to make subtle or blatant, cutting jokes at the expense of dad.
- Most of the dumb humor comes from or is at the expense of the male figure.
- If the husband makes any kind of big mistake, as the wife discovers it, the husband takes the tail between the legs mentality and the wife takes the boss mentality. Both accept their roles in the film.
I will preface our list by outlining the criteria. The following three films have either a father figure or husband as one of the main characters or who are related to a main character. The fathers are well respected by the mother / wife (when present) and the children. The fathers and/or husbands below are not at the butt of family jokes or looked upon as foolish figures. Yes, these films were hard to find without just looking at 1950s silver screen classics.
Here are the three films below.
1. Lion King
This is probably the only “A” list, major animated Disney movie in the last thirty years, that depicts a father figure with a strong, humbly confident role in his family. Simba may have been up to no good at times but he knew his place when he spoke to his father, Mufasa. Sarabi, Mufasa’s “wife”, never questioned Mufasa in front of Simba or in public. This did not make Sarabi any less powerful in their home. If anything, Sarabi used her respectful power to unite her and Mufasa’s front, by expressing her family decision concerns only with Mufasa. Likewise, Mufasa respected and loved Sarabi. He did not humiliate Sarabi or talk about her in a negative light. He included his wife on decisions about the tribe and about Simba’s well-being. In turn, both Simba and Sarabi respected Mufasa.
2. It’s a Wonderful Life
OK, I went way back in time to find this one. Is that cheating? The film is just too iconic to exclude from the list. George Bailey didn’t provide much reason for his family to have a lot of confidence in him. [Spoiler alert!] However, during his what if I was never born scenario, Mary Bailey remained respectfully by her husband’s side. Of course, I am referring to the Mary version that married George in Bedford Falls, not the what if Pottersville Mary. Mr. Bailey’s plethora of children approached their father out of complete respect. They did not need to be fear-stricken while talking to their daddy, with one exception in an extreme life scenario. The Bailey kids had confidence and security throughout their childhood. They knew two things when it came to relationships; to respect others (especially authority) and that their parents’ love for each other took precedence over life’s hardships. Mary, Zuzu, and the rest of the children respected George Baily.
3. The Patriot
Mel Gibson’s character, Benjamin Martin, did not have a wife or mother figure in his family for most of the film. Nevertheless, you could sense the lasting impact that the late mother had on her children. It was true for the father of the family as well. The few times that Benjamin Martin was questioned by his family, was over the emotional conflicts of war and his oldest child growing into adulthood. Otherwise, the Martin’s lived effectively and out of respect for their father, even amongst warfare and oppression. If Benjamin’s authority and respect should ever be questioned, just look at three scenes. One, where Gabriel, played by Heath Ledger, desires his father’s blessing over his future marriage. This was a very commendable act. Gabriel respected his father. The second scene is when Benjamin and two of his younger boys pursued an English squad. The sons had more fear in them than they probably had in their entire young lives, yet they followed their father’s orders. The fear was towards the danger and not deriving from their father directly. Out of obedience, the two boys respected their father. The third scene really captures an element not tied to any order given or direction administrated. The youngest daughter, Susan Martin, seemingly couldn’t talk after dealing with loss, guilt, and pain. After she did not respond to her father, Benjamin turned to leave for battle again. Little Susan cried, “Daddy”! The poor girl didn’t know how to navigate through her thoughts and emotions, yet she knew one thing; that she needed her daddy’s help. In this case, she grew up in a house where daddy helped and cared for everyone in the home. Susan respected her daddy.
So, who is to blame for this misguided depiction of fatherhood and spouse-ship? Is it because of a generation of wives cutting at their husband’s authority in the home? Is it because of a generation of fathers that didn’t do their jobs? Is it because those fathers are now making movies about their life experiences? Whatever the case, the responsibility lies with “you”, the father or the husband. That statement is directed back at me as well. We as fathers and/or husbands need to embrace our roles in our families through leadership. We cannot rely on what we see on our televisions or movie screens. If you feel unequipped, you’re not alone. Be encouraged that if you have the desire to be a good father or be a good husband you are part of the way there! May I encourage you to have grace where a family member might cut you down. Begin to encourage them. Surround yourself with great fathers and great husbands. If you don’t “fit in”, meet with a great father or husband that is equipped to help you. A person who shares accountability with you will have greater influence on you than a movie will ever have! If the reward is totally worth it, why not strive to be the best father you can be? Why not strive to be the best husband you can be?
Check out our article about 3 reasons why Darth Vader was actually a good father.
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