60 second overview

  • In the last blog post, I suggested that the job of a father might be to create self-sustaining kids in a world containing risks to the thing they value.
  • Here, I provide a few examples.
  • It could be that this idea is ‘True’ in the sense that it appears in many places throughout our culture.
  • However, if I had been a father, I would probably have liked to show some kindness and support to the child I’d had – so that we remained friends in older age.

Examples of films which contain these themes

It was interesting to me that the films which most readily came to mind were children’s films.

  1. Dumbo
  • Separated from the mother: The film Dumbo begins with Dumbo being separated from his mother at the circus.
  • The hero goes on some adventures and meets a few people: On his travels, Dumbo meets Timothy Q Mouse. Timothy isn’t Dumbo’s father but he says a lot of the things a father might.
  • The hero has a job to do: Dumbo’s job is to fly around in a circus using his ears.
  • The bears in this world are: Exploitative circus owners and crows who take the piss out of him.
  • When he finds it tough: Dumbo has been using a feather to reassure him he can fly. At one stage he drops this feather and becomes convinced he is going to fall to his death. Timothy Q Mouse picks up his ear and says something like ‘It was never the feather Dumbo. It was always you. You can fly – you don’t need the feather.’ And then Dumbo flies.

    Note: The message from the mouse is: You’re enough to do this job.

  1. Star wars (Episode IV)
  • Separated from the mother: Star Wars begins with Luke coming home to find that his mother figure (an aunt if I remember correctly) has been killed.
  • The hero goes on some adventures and meets a few people: On his travels, Luke meets Obi Wan. Obi Wan isn’t his father but he says a lot of the things a father might.
  • The hero has a job to do: Luke wants to blow up the Death Star.
  • The bears in this world are: The Empire and The Emperor.
  • When he finds it tough: Luke is approaching the heat vent in his X Wing Fighter and is just about to shoot when he hears Obi Wan saying ‘You don’t need the guidance computer Luke. Use the Force’

    Note: The message from Obi Wan to Luke is: You’re enough to do this job.

(Star Wars gets a bit messy because Darth Vader is actually Luke’s dad.)

  1. Batman
  • Separated from the mother: Batman starts with Batman’s mother being shot by the joker.
  • The hero goes on some adventures and meets a few people: On his travels, Batman meets Alfred the butler. Alfred isn’t Batman’s father but he says a lot of the things a father might.
  • The hero has a job to do: Clean up Gotham.
  • The bears in this world are: Villains like the Penguin and Catwoman.
  • When he finds it tough: (From the Dark Knight) Endure, Master Wayne. Take it. They’ll hate you for it, but that’s the point of Batman, he can be the outcast.

    Note: Albert’s message is you’re enough to do this job.

Summarising and limiting

Obviously, I’m not a dad. Neither am I a media studies student or a psychologist. This is all content derived from common sense and a bit of thought. I do feel a bit uncomfortable commenting because this is not really my area.

However, I sometimes say the sort of things a father might.

At my friend’s house just the other day I watched one of her boys (nearly 5 years old) struggling to pull up the zip on his jacket. I just watched. I figured he’d get it in the end. When he told me he couldn’t do it, I said something like ‘You’ve got this buddy. What happens if you pull that bit down and then slide the other side in.’ Then his mum came over and zipped it up for him.

I guess I am saying that I see this stuff everywhere I go now.

It’s in ‘A Boy Named Sue’ by Johnny Cash.

It basically encapsulates the entirety of If— by Rudyard Kipling

‘If you can make one heap of all your winnings,Especially the bit which says 
and risk it on one turn of pitch and toss,
and lose, and start again at your beginning
and never breathe a word about your loss.’

The film ‘Kung Fu Panda’ follows exactly the same flow. I’ve only seen it once but I think the ending is where the Panda looks in to a golden mirror – which is the solution to all the world’s problems. The list goes on and on.

But there is a limit to all of this. I think the dad I would want to have been if I had kids would not be simply and only a stoic, cold, hard, distant autocrat. Many of the fathers I see portrayed in the media and that I have experienced elsewhere are those things and often those things alone. I read that most kids have a close relationship with their mothers but only one in 7 has a close relationship with their fathers. That seems sad to me. It’s not the legacy I would have wanted to leave.

I guess the question to those reading is, as a father, do you see this as relevant to your role?