Daddy is bored
What kind of message is the latest Shrek movie giving kids? This mom of three is appalled.
I went to see Shrek 3D last night.

I laughed like a drain at some of it, but mostly I was appalled.

Why, you ask?

If you’ve seen it, you’ll remember the scene. The movie opens with Shrek all settled into his new home with his lovely wife and three delightful kids. There they are doing charming family things: getting woken up by the kids, feeding the kids, changing their nappies, taking them out, enjoying family meals. As the sequence plays out, the routine is replayed over and over, faster and faster, portraying the relentless tedium that is family life.

What appalled me is this: throughout the sequence, Shrek’s wife, Fiona, is content. She sleeps peacefully through the night, kisses Shrek good morning, cheerfully makes the breakfast, gladly recites the same things to the kids, joyfully plays with them and merrily makes them their supper.

Shrek, however, is not happy. Shrek, the daddy, needs more. We watch him becoming increasingly frustrated and bored with his life.

The monotony is too much for him. He needs to feel powerful and scary again. He wants his old life back.

Granted, by the end of the movie he realises the error of his ways, but Good. Flaming. Grief. Someone get me a barf bag. Is this what we want to portray to our children? That mommies are content, even ecstatic to have been rescued from their former lives to live a life of routine? And that daddies need more than this? Daddies are bored by routine and need to feel scary and powerful?

I know. I’m reading too much into it. But am I? If a kids’ movie is for kids to watch, then surely we should be depicting a more balanced and even-handed view of gender roles and family life?

If my children watch Shrek 3D, I’ll make sure they know this:

Women, just like men, have aspirations for their lives. Just like men, they don’t find routine particularly thrilling, but they endure it. But they don’t want to escape, Shrek-like, to their former lives, because they realize that some parts of life are boring and others are fun. They won’t ask for a do-over, or a way of becoming more powerful and scary at the expense of their family.

Because that would just be silly.

Do kids’ movies perpetuate the stereotypical images of moms and dads?

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