Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Moms In The Media

I am reading a book called: The Mother-Daughter Project (How Mothers and Daughters Can Band Together, Beat the Odds, and Thrive Through Adolescence) It is a little more liberal in some areas than I am, but it does have some good points in it, as well as ideas for keeping daughters connected with their mothers through what can be a difficult time.

Here is an excerpt; "Many movie and sitcom moms make mother-loathing seem appropriate, since they portray mothers as diabolical (Desperate Housewives), clueless (the mom in the otherwise mostly girl-positive movie 'She's the Man'), or (incredibly often) dead (Whale Rider, Stripes, Fly Away Home, and a plethora of Disney cartoons from Snow White to Bambi to Finding Nemo). There are relatively few media portrayals of overtly positive mother-daughter relationships and smart, loving moms, though thankfully some do exist, such as in the movie (and book) Cheaper by the Dozen. With little experience for comparison, your daughter may take in the media presentation of teens as back-talking mother-haters as the model to aspire to. . . your daughter is drawn further toward the idea that she is supposed to pull away and treat you with disdain, too, even when she really doesn't want to pull away form you." (pg. 158)

As I read this I started really thinking about all the movies and T.V. shows I watch, and how true this is. Shows I grew-up watching like I Love Lucy, where Lucy acted like, and was treated like a child by her husband. One of my favorite shows of all time is Happy Days. And thinking about it, I realized that Mrs. C wasn't really all that involved in her kids lives. Then all those Disney movies like Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and my favorite, Beauty and the Beast, that shows girls not to just go for the guy with the looks. (And Belle loves to read, a girl after my own heart!) The mom is always dead, and sometimes replaced by an evil step mother. Why is this?
Even my new favorite movie, Nancy Drew. I love this movie and it's mostly girl empowering, but there is no Mother. Even in some of my favorite Shirley Temple movies, and my girls favorite Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen Movies, they play Orphans. There are not many movies and/or T.V. shows that show a close Mother-Daughter relationship. This is very disheartening to me as a Mother!

As I racked my brain (not hard to do!) I did come up with some good shows, with positive Mother role models. This is one of the reasons My favorite T.V. show of all time (John & the kids bought me the entire series for Christmas last year) is Gilmore Girls. It's about a single mother and her teenage daughter. Yes, they may argue or disagree on things, but, they talk about everything, and work it out. It's not cheesy either. I LOVE that show! Another one we always watched as a family while it was on was 7th Heaven. It is a little cheesy, but it was about a Pastor and his family. And they dealt with real issues. The movie Stepmom was on T.V. the other day, and it has TWO pretty strong mother figures.

And as far as books go, you can't go wrong with my favorite Little Women! And if your girls are not into The American Girl Dolls, I highly recommend them. Each doll represents a time in American History, and comes with a book about her life. Four of them have been made into movies. The last one, Kit was in Theaters, the other three, Samantha, Felicity and Molly were made for T.V. movies. All are really good. And all have good Mother-Daughter relationships.

There is also a new show on T.V. called The Secret Life of the American Teenager. From the creators of 7th Heaven. Now, be warned, it has a lot of content that needs parental guidance. It is about teenage pregnancy. You may or may not want to watch this one. But, I would not let my kids watch it if I didn't watch it with them. It can be great for starting conversations with your kids on touchy subjects. But it does have some pretty good Mother-Daughter relationships portrayed, and well as bad ones. The funny thing is that the main mom, soon to be grandmother (hence, the teenage pregnancy) is Molly Ringwald, the quintessential teenager in all my girl movies from back in the day. Like The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink. When did we grow up?

So, think about it: What are some of your favorite Movies, T.V. shows and books? And what kind of Mother-Daughter, (or Mother-Son) relationships do they portray? Do they encourage our kids to be close to and talk to their parents? And are they the kind of parents we want to be?


Darcine said...

Just a little trivia for your favorite show. I'm in an episode of Gilmore Girls. I'm in the background (and you really can see me) drinking fake wine or something. Anyway, I'll add more later, but that was just for fun. Love ya.

John said...

I want to know what episode of Gilmore Girls Darci is in so I can watch that episode and see her!

Darcine said...

Now I have a little more time to make a real "comment". I wanted to add one of my favorite movies- The Incredibles. Great mom, like me, and a superhero, also like me. :o) I think I can really relate to that movie. :o) True, most movies have what our family calls the "Disney formula" -whereas one parent is missing, and it is usually the mom. Most of the time the parent is dead, for dramatic emphasis, instead of divorced. I think the movie makers do it to draw emotion from the viewer because who wouldn't feel sorry for a character without a mom? Notice it usually isn't the dad that is missing. Why? I think it is because so many people grasp how hard it would really be to live a life without mom. Maybe they are trying to make that point- that we should value our mothers because they do make such an impact on our world. I really don't know why movies overuse the "Disney formula". I do agree that it makes it hard to visually see the role of the mother. Another one of my favorite movies is "What a Girl Wants". What she wants is a family. Very cute, and I love Amanda Bynes (Collin Firth isn't too bad, either). Anyway, great blog, Star. You are so insightful. :

stefanie said...

What a great post!

I'm going to have to look into that book.

One movie that came to mind right away was the Jamie Lee Curtis/Lindsay Lohan version of Freaky Friday. I loved how the mom and daughter got (literally) into each others heads.

We just 'discovered' Gilmore Girls a few weeks ago when some youth leaders brought Season 1 for a movie night at our house. I wasn't interested when it was in production, but now that our girls are teenagers, it has been great to watch and talk about it with them.

Unfortunately, the Disney formula applies to dads as well. They are also absent, distant, bumbling... My husband often points out how tv commericals belittle men.

I'll be looking at things a little more closely now!

Pam said...


What a great post! I am also a huge Gilmore Girls fan. Our whole family would gather on Tuesday nights to watch - even Grandpa! (I would also like to know what episode Darci is in after seeing Ed walk in the background of West Wing in several episodes) I only have one girl and perhaps if I had more it would be different, but as awesome as our relationship is I firmly believe girls need their dads. While my daughter gets her love of music, sarcasm and critical "outside of the box" thinking skills from me, her self-esteem and security come from Daddy alone. The media does usually portray the husband/father as the clueless idiot who would rather be at a sporting event then spend time with his family.

Anonymous said...

I LOVED THIS POST! I AM A HUGE GILMORE GIRLS FAN TOO!!!! Actually I have never seen the show. I just wanted to get in on all the fun. I have enjoyed catching up on your blog tonight. You have a gift. Keep it up!

Ronnica said...

I'm a big fan Gilmore Girls too! I watch the episodes over and over and over again...