Raising My Son Among Action Movie Heroes
Last week, Eliana Osborn talked about raising her son “among princesses.” She mentions that we talk a lot these days about the princess culture and girls – but don’t talk about what effects it can have on boys. She’s got some great points about how she doesn’t want her son to always focus on looks – or think that he’s going to have to rescue some helpless woman his whole life. I encourage you to check out Osborn’s article, posted on Babble, if for no other reason than because it’ll set you up for mine.
Osborn got me thinking – I don’t watch
too many any Disney princess movies. But am I raising my son “among action movie heroes?” Are there things I don’t want my little man to think, despite what he’ll be learning from the (awesome) movies we’ll (eventually) watch together?
The answer is: of course. Action movies, when you think about them, are stupid. They allow a jerk-ass villain to take over a whole city, then set up some underdog guy to go-it-alone and save everyone else. And, in the meantime, you know he’s going to get the girl and set evil back a couple of steps, just because he’s got some extra time before the credits.
Well, here’s a couple of things I’d like to teach my kid about the reality outside of action movies:
You don’t (and shouldn’t) do it alone.
Things sure are fun when you run headlong into a building and start strategically picking off enemies one by one, using their weaknesses against them until you can proudly throw Hans Gruber out a window. Or something. In just about every movie, some rogue cop, some hacker, some ex-marine – they always end up going against a horde of bad dudes, corporate swine, vaguely-brown-colored terrorists, etc. But life rarely gives you these opportunities. It most cases, my kid will find out that, unfortunately, teamwork is favored in most offices, even if a project can be completed by ONE skilled keyboard cowboy. The world needs more Morpheuses than Neos; we need more people that blindly have faith in their team (even if it hinges on one christlike Keanu) than we need go-it-alone guys that can fly at the end of the movie. And while being John McClane or RoboCop is fun when you succeed, my kid will find, no doubt, that when you go rogue and fail, you eat a corn-sprinkled s**t sandwich that risks everything you worked for. Let’s be honest, Murphy could have used some capable help aside from that one Lewis tomboy. I can’t help but feel like if a team of cops, helmed by tomboy and Robo could have used a little misdirection and teamwork with ED-209, RoboCop would have been 32 minutes long including credits, and half of Detroit wouldn’t have been gunned down in gang combat.
There are, of course, times I want my kid to work independently. I want him to learn skills, and be capable of doing every task that’s thrown at him, so that if he IS in a group situation, he can be the swiss army knife if he needs to be. But being a swiss army knife just makes you disappointed when someone can’t do their job (and you can do three). So optimally, my son will get a tech industry or design job that he can do from home and he’ll just be a millionaire-shut-in and buy me a platinum and diamond wheelchair when the time is right.
And as one of the “founding fathers” of 8BitDad, you’d better believe I’m all for father-son teams. If my kid’s got a problem, I want him to feel like no matter what, he can come to me, and we’ll solve it together. And finally, I think the only real argument I need against going-it-alone is the A-Team. Enough said.