Archive for December, 2007

Gender

December 5, 2007

As a child I loved a mixture of tv shows and films. TV in the early 80’s was largely action cartoons like Thundercats and He-Man which I enjoyed. In these shows the male characters were always portrayed as stronger, more proactive and more interesting. These shows though had very clear morality, and dealt with very positive themes, but expressed in a macho, musclebound identity.
The films I was heavily influenced by, and loved most, were very different. They dealt with the male/female relationships in much more subtle, real ways, and they affected me as a child much more profoundly than the kind of tv shows, which in truth in the early 80’s were nearly all macho and 1-dimensional. I was interested in ET and Star Wars, which both represented women very positively, although Princess Leia is in some ways portrayed as a sex symbol she is strong minded and stands up to every antagonistic man she comes up against. She uses weapons and takes a proactive, leadership role in those films. Although a princess she is definitely not a weak stereotype.
In ET, there is a potent theme of family breakdown. It is not a male specific perspective, although Eliott is the male protagonist, he is not macho, and Spielberg directs the film with great tenderness, showing how Gertie has been affected by the marital breakdown as much as Eliott. It is a film about children looking for paternal figures. These are the films that mattered to me when I was young and I can see how they influenced me far more in my own identity than the simplistic macho tv shows I watched at the same time.

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