Why we need stronger characters in children’s movies

Story by Mayra Monroy, Editor-in-Chief
Photo Courtesy of Forbes

As a 21-year-old woman, I don’t get around to seeing children’s movies much. Whether that is due to time, money, or maybe just the fact that I don’t want to seem like the only “adult” without a child seeing them, it’s up for discussion. Despite this, I have been blessed with a sassy, mini-Mayra that has become my pass into watching these sort of films.

My sister is an 8-year-old lively soul, and just like me, she loves watching movies. Of course, our taste in films, actors, plots, and overall themes is different, but spending time together that way is great nonetheless. Recently, I took her to go see the latest installment of Hotel Transylvania 2, to which she loved and to which made me horrified.

The plot of the film (and its predecessor, Hotel Transylvania) is basic. Widowed father raises daughter, becomes overprotective, girl meets boy, girl falls in love, father tries to stop it at all costs, doesn’t work, girl marries boy. The second film centers on the birth of a half human-half monster hybrid (in case you didn’t know by the name, it’s about monsters) and that is where the plot turns sour. For me, at least.

The child is the son of a vampire mother and a human father, and is watched closely to see which he will become. His grandfather, played by Adam Sandler, obsesses over this fact, pining for the fangs to grow that would make him a monster and similar to him. Almost immediately, the child is pushed into a role and pressured to become “manly” by participating in a variety of schemes that prove his ability to turn into a monster and condemn him if he doesn’t fall into the role.

In a scene towards the end of the film, the son is playing with a daughter of a werewolf and as they’re playing, she begins cooking in the kitchen, fixing dinner for them, stating, “You better enjoy this, because I won’t be able to make meals like this while I’m in business school.”

Though it was perceived in a way to smash gender roles, it almost contradicted itself, adding more comic relief than actual thought-provoking discussion.

The entire film, though not always obvious, was a huge advocate for gender roles and a male dominated society. In another scene directly following that, after being attacked by an enemy, the son begins to cry, and immediately is taunted with words like “weak,” “wimp,” and “baby.”

After watching this film, my sister voiced her opinion regarding how funny the film was and how she liked it. I was mortified.

Perception about gender begins at a very young age and so does the observation of gender roles. Children movies, among of course behaviors seen in home and at school, are a representation of these in society and something a child notices.

Children need strong female and male leads that don’t tear each other down or classify indifferences. Girls need to know that they don’t need to know how to cook for a man and that business school is indeed something they can hope for. Boys need to know that crying doesn’t make a person weak, and that they can be whoever they want to be and not what they’re told.

Children need strong characters. Society needs it too.

About the Writer…

unnamedMayra Monroy is a senior studying Communication and Journalism.She is the Editor-in-Chief for The Saint, Writer for Revue Magazine and the Marketing Intern for Van Andel Arena & DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. Mayra enjoys traveling, being immersed in local and national news, and spends her day on Twitter.

Categories: Opinion

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