In a desperate bid to catch the fleeting attentions of the notification obsessed 15 to 21-year-old demographic I’m doing a Buzz Feed. Woo yeah! Loud Noises. Bants…
I feel so old…
Dad’s in fiction are everywhere. In today’s list-pretending-to-be-actual-content we (I mean ‘me’ but I like to give myself an image of corporality) pick the top six dads in fiction.
1. Atticus Finch – To Kill A Mockingbird.
Strong, morally courageous and a superb role model to Jem and Scout, Lee’s fictional dad is everything many parents
aspire hope to be.
2. Darth Vader – Star Wars.
Okay, so a little bit absent at the start and doesn’t know he has a daughter (that’s a chat show paternity test we’d all love to have seen, chortle, chortle) but he comes good in the end. Also, The Force would mean you could babysit from the pub. LOLZ.
3. Man – The Road.
In a land that is bleak and terrifying, this character does everything he can to protect his son after the ‘Event’. His moral compass waivers somewhat but he’s done a good enough job as a dad to let his son guide him when it goes
4. Homer Simpson – The Simpsons.
No list of fictional dads would be complete without the yellow symbol of fatherhood making an appearance. Whilst mostly moronic and at times downright negligent, Homer Simpson has shown his love for Bart, Lisa and Maggie on so many occasions, to exclude him would be
5. Daniel Hillard – Mrs Doubtfire.
Played to perfection by the late Robin Williams this film about how far a dad is willing to go to spend time with his kids is laugh-out-loud funny, heartwarming and a wry nod to the trials and
tribulations bad things of being a woman. Probably.
6. Mufasa – The Lion King.
Noble and proud, Mufasa guides his son Simba through the
profound complexities bad and good things of childhood. And after his tragic death – who didn’t blub a little – he still provides paternal guidance from beyond the grave. Spooky.
And there concludes my lazily thrown together list of the top six dads in fiction.
Yay! Boom! Smash! I heart disaffection. Yolo. Swag. Bants. Etc. Etc.
And it is lazy because selecting any number of fictional dads that display the qualities we best associate with fatherhood is remarkably easy.
What isn’t easy is to do the same for mothers.
Think about how many fictional mothers are actually represented in texts and how they are represented and a very different image of parenthood emerges.
In my ‘research’ for this post (a cup of coffee and Google doesn’t really count) I came across The Guardian’s ‘The 10 Best Fictional Mums‘ picture gallery published in April 2011 for Mother’s Day.
Whilst I’m aware of the subjective nature of ‘best’ – for example, Iago is in my opinion, the best character in Shakespeare’s work, even though he is pathologically evil – it seems to me that if you are aiming to put together a list of characters to celebrate Mother’s Day, you should aim to include generally positive maternal role models.
I say this because the list includes Gertrude from Hamlet and Norma Bates from Psycho.
Gertrude, for those of you who don’t know, quickly beds down with Hamlet’s uncle after the death of Hamlet’s dad. Hamlet is somewhat miffed by this and then, spurred on by his dad’s ghost, seeks to bring down his uncle and his mother whom he loves, possibly in an Oedipal way. Ultimately, everyone dies. The end.
And yes, I know that feminist interpretations of the play paint Gertrude as the victim of circumstance as well as her trying to maintain the sovereignty of Denmark by ensuring there is a king on the throne (Norway is always trying to invade, the buggers), but she’s hardly the apotheosis of motherhood.
The most maternal thing she does is ask if Hamlet’s okay (he isn’t) and then get his best mates to spy on him.
And as for Norma Bates…well, she’s a desiccated corpse whose presence has driven her son mad. Not exactly what you would call award-winning parenting.
I could go on -the list includes the absolutely batcrap-crazy Eric Sayers from Black Swan and the scatty social climber Mrs Bennett from Pride and Prejudice – but I won’t.
What I will do is wonder why this is? Why do we celebrate fictional dads and not fictional mums? Or at least, when we do celebrate fictional mums they are for reasons that don’t contribute to the idea of being a decent parent.
I think it is partly down to subverting expectations. We expect women to be instinctively maternal so when they undermine that idea we see them as interesting characters. When they are ‘just’ mums, we shrug and go “yeah well, so what?”
The same for men. At least two of the dads in the list I compiled above are single dads (Vader was single but is now going steady with Chantelle, a 23-year-old cocktail waitress from Braintree in Essex), we don’t expect them to be able to parent well and marvel when they do. Indeed the stereotype of the hapless dad is a source of constant humour. I know, because I use it on this blog for comedic effect all the time.
The amazing work that dads do is rightly celebrated in fiction. It would be great if mothers had their opportunity too.
So I have an idea.
In one month’s time (15th March 2015) it is Mothering Sunday in the UK. Between now and then, we should make a list of the top mums in fiction.
And I mean mums who show the absolute best qualities of motherhood. Who are brave and strong and bring their kids up despite the machinations of a vast and uncaring universe. They surely must exist.
Once we’ve got that we’ll put them together into an uber-list of brilliant fictional mothers and send it round the internet.
And if we can’t think of any, we’ll send that too.
If you can think of any female characters that demonstrate awesome mothering skills then put them in the comments section below.