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Friday News: Twitter tolerates harassment, animated films and the ‘fun father,’...

“As far as Twitter is concerned the ideal anti-harassment policy is just effective enough to prevent [Anita] Sarkeesian from leaving while simultaneously permitting thousands of people to enjoy harassing her every day. In this way Twitter doesn’t need to engage directly in the Charles Foster Kane-style yellow journalism of its predecessors; it reaps the same rewards (while incurring very few of the risks) by allowing users to do so on its behalf.”

In other words, the value of Twitter is such that people like Anita Sarkeesian can’t easily leave without losing a large amount of her community and voice. By withholding tools that would allow targeted individuals like her to manage who contacts her and how, as outlined above, Twitter drives up engagement. The people organizing the abuse are creating value for Twitter, there is no reason to stop them from doing so. –Polygon

So it’s interesting to see this trend in animated films where the mother is killed off (a kid lit staple), only to be replaced by the fun father. It is, of course, a very perverse way of bringing the father into the domestic sphere, and it’s one that relies on the absence of the mother. So what does all of this say about how we imagine fathers, how different genres and media represent them, and how they are treated relative to mothers.

Quite simply, mothers are killed in today’s kids’ movies so the fathers can take over. (Of course, there are exceptions; in Lilo and Stitch, for instance, both of Lilo’s parents die and it’s her big sister who becomes the surrogate parent.) The old fairy-tale, family-romance movies that pitted poor motherless children against horrible vengeful stepmothers are a thing of the past. Now plucky children and their plucky fathers join forces to make their way in a motherless world. The orphan plot of yore seems to have morphed, over the past decade, into the buddy plot of today. Roll over, Freud: in a neat reversal of the Oedipus complex, the mother is killed so that the children can have the father to themselves. Sure, women and girls may come and go, even participate in the adventure, but mothers? Not allowed. And you know what? It looks like fun! –The Atlantic

Swartzwelder is already riding the buzz surrounding the two very different films opening up on the same night. His own comparison pretty much sums up this upcoming box office battle.

“One is a modestly budgeted indie flick that seeks to make room for godly romance in contemporary America,” he wrote on his blog. “The other is a multi-million dollar studio film based on a best-selling erotic novel that has… other goals in mind.” –E! Online

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isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!

11 Comments

  1. DS
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 06:37:27

    I don’t think that I would bet on the Christian version being the more popular.

    OT, reading the word “clean” used to describe what used to be called sweet romances really grates on me. I don’t read erotica any more– lost interest in it somewhere– but it just seems to denigrate readers who chose to enjoy other types of books.

    I’ve also noticed that the term clean is not only applied to a lack sex and adult situations but to books with even mild adult language and violence. In order to be clean enough to satisfy some readers the book (or movie) has to have none of these in it.

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  2. Amanda
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 07:01:58

    I don’t expect the Christian version to be more popular either. However I think that version is more likely to make my local theaters than Fifty Shades.

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  3. Melisse Aires
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 07:05:51

    A lot of moms are dead in kidlit. A modern exception I can think of is the Janitor’s series by Tyler Whiteside. Fun books and Mom actually gets involved in the action. Also, the old Enid Blyton Adventure books, mom’s alive but the kids are out and about.

    The one thing that bothered me the most about Buffy was the deaths of the nurturing ‘moms,’ Joyce and Tara

    I am working on a kidlit with all parents alive but busy, and the kids have a lot of freedom to hike around the mountain acreage and into Fae Montana.

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  4. jen
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 11:14:52

    I thought the “clean version” of 50 Shades was Twilight. Or is it just a romance with a heavy handed patriarchal tone without pesky vampires or sex blur that message?

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  5. Shiloh Walker
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 11:33:40

    FYI, my plan this weekend is to hit the mall in Louisville to find the MAC counter and get that makeup. I hardly even wear it but I think it’s brilliant marketing.

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  6. LexxiC
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 12:03:55

    It’s not just animated parents. It’s also live action on Nick and Disney.
    In most of the parents are either absent (Icarly), idiots (Dog with a Blog) or absent and idiots (Jesse) Or semi present and idiots (Ant Farm) and it goes on and on.

    Good Luck Charlie has both parents present, father is patient and hardworking if not too bright, mother is self centered, stays homes and is mostly an idiot, and she keeps getting…wait for it….pregnant.

    In ICarly the Freddie Benson’s mother is a single parent but she’s portrayed as overbearing, over controlling, hypochondriac and also, of course, an idiot.

    And it goes on and on and on. We stopped our daughter from watching any live action kids shows last year and you would not believe the change in her attitude. She still thinks we’re idiots but at least she is not so sarcastic.

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  7. Elizabeth Cole
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 12:14:31

    I think one of the reasons that mothers get killed off in fiction (of any medium) is purely functional. If you want your minor protagonist to be able to take center stage and make decisions, then you have to remove the usual decision-maker. Sadly, modern Western culture makes it easy to say “Daddy’s working” so there’s no need to kill him for real. But mothers are so involved in the minutiae of their children’s lives that death is the only way to remove the influence. Interestingly, in Cinderella, she goes to her mother’s grave to wish for a gown, so even death might not prevent all assistance!

    Granted, this “need” depends on what sort of story one is trying to tell. But I’m guessing a lot of it is not a hate for mothers, but rather an acknowledgement that in real life, mothers are super central for most if not all people.

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  8. Maite
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 13:38:10

    The overwhelming amount of Dead Moms is like the overabundance of dukes: it works if it’s done well. What worries me is that concept that “if Mom’s dead, the kids can do anything and go anywhere.” No one has aunts or uncles (honorary or otherwise) or grandparents, or neighbours. Or nannies.
    And LexiC, don’t get me started on the Protagonist Centered Morality of kids shows.

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  9. Alexandra
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 13:52:22

    As a lover of romance I’m not a big fan of MAC’s newest special collection. It seems to capitalize (especially the photo campaign) on some romance novel cliches. Romance is stereotyped enough and I don’t like that. It wasn’t really designed with romance readers in mind, though. It’s kinda funny to me, too, because something that always takes me out of a story is when a character just slaps on some lipstick, adds a few brushes of mascara and is suddenly all vamped up. Especially when she normally doesn’t wear makeup. Um, no.

    As a lover of makeup (and guilty of buying certain products just for the pretty packaging) I think it’s very creative, and feminine yet glamorous. The general response I’ve scene around the the makeup blogosphere has been really positive. And I can’t wait to get my hands on the fluid eyeliner pencils. If anyone else on DA is as hopelessly addicted as I am you can find swatches and reviews here:

    http://www.makeupandbeautyblog.com/mac-makeup/mac-a-novel-romance-collection-review/

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  10. Susan
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 18:10:36

    Dead or missing parents is not a new device in books. It’s been used with different permutations in classics like Pippi Longstocking, the Boxcar Children, the Pevesies in the Narnia books, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s child characters, etc. as a way to allow kids to have grand adventures unhampered by too much adult supervision. Kinda sexist, but I also think the absence of the mother was meant to convey more emotional trauma and the absence of the father more economic hardship (particularly in older books). The missing mom/parent trope doesn’t bother me if it’s well done.

    On that note, I do have to say that I liked Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy books overall, but I was frequently enraged that the MC (being raised by grandmother) and all the other kids (at boarding school) were constantly being put in mortal peril by absent or seemingly-indifferent adults. Even tho that was a major point of the books, I just couldn’t fully get over it. Protect those children, you idiots.

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  11. cleo
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 20:54:07

    @Susan:

    Protect those children, you idiots.

    That was my biggest problem with the Harry Potter books, especially the first 3.

    ReplyReply

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