Last time around, we began a mini-series by looking at the first six of the fourteen ways to portray fictional fathers. Today, we shall look at some more, including:
- The Average Joe;
- The Neglectful Father;
- The Discarder; and
- The Absentee Father.
Again, there is no order to this list. I have numbered the fathers as they came to my head.
7 – The Average Joe
The seventh of the fourteen ways to portray fictional fathers is the ‘average Joe Bloggs.’ These types of fathers are nice, normal guys, who like to spend time with their families, eat well, drink beer, go to the movies, do a mundane job, etc…
There is nothing wrong with being an ‘average Joe.’ In fact, they tend to be quite likeable (if vanilla) characters. However, their children may look at them differently; particularly, if the children have talent.
Example 1 – Homer Simpson
Homer Simpson is a sweet and kind man. He has a good sense of humour and a forgiving personality. Plus, he does a job he doesn’t like to provide for his family. He is not the sharpest pencil in the pack, but he is not an idiot either (at least, that’s how he was in Seasons 1-10 of The Simpsons, which arguably contain the best episodes).
In many ways, Homer epitomises the average father in middle America for the reasons above, and because he loves drinking beer, enjoys watching sport, and (intensely) dislikes his in-laws.
Homer is a good father, despite his obvious flaws, and questionable decisions at times. Yet, because of The Simpsons’ format of a twenty-minute episode, where everything starts a-new every time, the effect Homer’s personality and behaviour has on his family varies greatly with each episode and hard to gauge. This is why we have a second example on the matter…
Example 2 – Andrew’s Father in Whiplash
In Whiplash, our main character, Andrew, has a father (Jim) who is an ‘average Joe.’ Jim is a likeable character, if unremarkable. He is a caring, single dad, who does his best with his limited skills.
Nevertheless, Andrew is a super-talented drummer, who wants to be a great. He views his father as mediocre and fears to be like him. It is part of what drives Andrew to do better, even if it causes him to have a breakdown two-thirds through the film’s runtime.
8 – The Neglectful Father
The neglectful father is one who unintentionally overlooks his children when something new catches his fancy. The net effect of the neglect is that it causes envy among the children he has unwilfully discarded.
Example – Andy From Toy Story
Andy may not be a father in the sense that he has biological children. Nonetheless, his toys view him as a father-like figure; principally, the main character, Woody the Sheriff. Every one of the toys looks up to Andy and want to be there for him, when he wants/needs to play with them.
However, when Andy gets a new toy for his birthday – Buzz Lightyear the Space Ranger – Andy plays with it relentlessly. As a result, Woody gets side-lined and is no longer Andy’s favourite. Consequently, Woody becomes envious of Buzz, seethes with resentment, and tries to get rid of Buzz; only, for it to go wrong for the both of them.
9 – The Discarder
Unlike the neglectful father, the discarder is the father who intentionally abandons his children. Or, worse, wilfully rejects them. The consequences of a father wilfully discarding his children vary.
Example 1 – Nortah Al Sorda
At the start of Anthony Ryan’s Blood Song, Vaelin Al Sorda (our noble hero) regales the reader on how his father deceitfully left him at the Sixth Order, a monastic-style order that trains boys into killers. For plausible reasons, Vaelin never forgives his father for discarding him. In fact, he hates him for it as Vaelin had to give up his inheritance to be part of the order.
But Vaelin does not let his hatred for his father consume him. Rather, he makes the best of his situation and becomes an honourable member of the Sixth Order. Although, Vaelin obeys orders and kills people, over-all, he maintains his humanity in Anthony Ryan’s brutal world.
Example 2 – Olidan Ancrath
In Mark Lawrence’s The Broken Empire Trilogy, Jorg Ancrath repeatedly tells the reader that his father, Lord Olidan, had his mother and brother murdered. In addition, Jorg becomes known as the Prince of Thorns because he was thrown into a thorn bush while his mother and brother were slaughtered. (The thorns saved his life.)
As a result, Jorg hates his father and wants to kill him. Unlike Vaelin though, Jorg does not hold onto his humanity (if he ever had any to start with, that is). Rather, our anti-hero comes to lead a group of bandits and spends his days committing every crime imaginable, all in the name of revenge.
Example 3 – Dr Frankenstein
In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Dr Victor Frankenstein creates life – a son in the form of the monstrous Creature. However, Victor does not like his son and rejects him at once, hoping the Creature will simply disappear.
But (surprise, surprise) the Creature does not disappear. He tries to win over his father’s affections. Only, Victor has neither shown his son love, nor taught him decency, nor how to interact socially. The consequences of this for Victor and those close to him are tragic (and throws up a great debate on who is the monster and who is the man).
10 – The Absentee Father
The ninth of fourteen ways to portray fictional fathers is the absentee father. This sort of father is one who is alive, but not (greatly) involved in his child’s life for one reason or another. This does not mean that he doesn’t love or care for his child. It just means that he is not physically there for him/her much of the time.
Example – Conor’s Dad in A Monster Calls
In JA Boyena’s superb film, A Monster Calls, Conor (Lewis McDougall) is going through a torrid time as his mum is dying of cancer. He is not helped by his father being absent for much of the time.
His father (Toby Kebbell) is not a bad guy. He just lives thousands of miles away in LA with his second wife and daughter (from his second marriage), while Conor lives in the UK. Conor’s father loves him and cares deeply for him. He just can’t be there for him when Conor needs him due to his geographic location, job and new family.
It is small wonder that Conor turns to the Monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) to help him out.
To Be Continued…
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and found it useful. We shall at look at numbers 11-14 (inclusive) of the fourteen ways to portray fictional fathers in the last of the blog pieces in this mini-series. Moreover, if you liked this blog post, please click the like button and leave a comment below.
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