Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Thanks But I've Got My Own Cape

If we relied on the media to feed us our opinions - we would hate single parents. And maybe we do. But based on the stories we see in news headlines or stories streamed to us on our favorite channels, have we ever seen what it really means to be a single parent?

According to headlines and opinion pieces, single parents are either rooted in the breakdown of American moral fiber (says Jeb Bush, one big voice for the right wing moral majority) or an example of why we need better sex ed and access to birth control (Charles M. Blow of the NY Times). Oversimplified  and opportunistic at best.

If you look at movies, single moms are:

  • Well resourced, but bitter (Panic Room with Jodie Foster)
  • Women of color eligible for uplift. She is both redeemed by rich white folks who show her what opportunity looks like as well as redeemer, by providing the down to earth perspective required for rich white folks to get grateful. (Spanglish, Tea Leoni, Adam Sandler and Paz Vega) 
  • Ambitious woman of color whose career decision forsakes her fish out of water child (in this case, out of the country too) whose only chance to learn how to swim (e.g. learn self-respect and self-defense) is a working class man. (Karate Kid remake with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith). 
  • Not doing as well as they could be, if only they had a man around. Thank goodness their meddling kids can manipulate them to make it happen. (Countless titles: About a Boy, Maid in Manhattan, Jerry Maguire, the list goes on...) 
Though moms are generally met with disdain for going to work, single dads can do anything,  whether it's Alan Arkin moving his kids from one apartment to another in Slums of Beverly Hills or Interstellar with Matthew McConaughey who runs off into space to find a better planet.... 

I will give Tyler Perry credit for saying he wants to lift up single moms and what it takes to raise kids without sacrificing your values and sanity. But damn if he didn't do the opposite, right along with most other attempts I've seen on every screen.  

The trouble is, single moms don't need another movie or episode of TV to show that a man is the solution to whichever single dimension characterization you want to fill in. Yes, we know it's hard and yes it might be different with a partner, but until the right one comes along and I happen to be interested, BUGGER OFF. 

You don't see many consistent examples (though there are a few exceptions) of single moms making it happen. This strikes me as odd considering how many damn single parents are out there. That's going to change. Stay tuned, the bonus is it's going to be fun and you'll probably learn something too.