Advanced search

What films should my children watch?

(59 Posts)
OutsSelf Thu 29-May-14 00:13:17

I have a 3.5 year old and we don't watch TV. I do like the idea of him watching films though, but it has to be sufficiently non sexist for me and non violent for DP to both agree to it.

So far we've got My Neighbour Totorro, and that is only passing the minimally sexist bar (pathetic mum, care taker older sister, dodgy old woman figure, etc). AND THAT'S IT!

What can he watch and look forward to? I've accepted that I will have to be patrolling discoursing the sexist stuff because I live in patriarchy but only to a certain extent. Like, fuck princessery and heroic princes, and fuck beauty-is-virtuous stuff.

What do you let your children watch? I'm asking here cos I assume you more or less have my values wrt to gender stereotyping...

Fram Thu 29-May-14 00:18:23

Ponyo, also studio ghibli- strong female lead, strong mum (dad is away working), ponyo's mum is a goddess... grin

Bellezeboobian Thu 29-May-14 01:01:12

My son is 5 and he basically just loves cartoons, and is quite keen on Come Dine With Me grin

I don't restrict anything as long as it's age-appropriate, but if I see something I don't like I do tend to have a discussion with DP and often DC will get involved, and I explain in a casual way why its wrong and I hope in my own way I'm educating him whilst not making too big of a deal at such a young age

LoveSardines Thu 29-May-14 08:40:46

Mine watch all the usual stuff, you can't avoid it. They got a load of original Disney films at my parents the other day - Sleeping Beauty etc.

I try and make sure that there are at least some with more reasonable messages in the mix. I am a bit more careful with books, especially as we get a lot given to us from charity shops which are old and have random sexism racism etc aplenty.

I think it's important to point out stuff as we can't protect them from the messages. It may be silly but if there is a girl or boy doing things which are the opposite to stereotype I mention it. The sexes acting in accordance with stereotype is obviously covered grin

Apart from studio ghibli I got no suggestions, we don't do films much.

Dragonlette Thu 29-May-14 08:51:29

Dd2 is 4 and she loved Wreck-it ralph when we saw that, there's a really great little girl in there.

We do watch most things though and just talk about the sexism in the films. Dd2 pointed out the rampant sexism in Cinderella herself the other day, which is a good thing I think. So she does see sexist messages BUT she's learning to laugh at what silly things people used to think. She is currently obsessed with Disney princesses, especially Elsa and Anna from Frozen, but she knows that they are pretend people who think silly things.

I grew up on a diet of Disney, and Care bears, and My Little Pony, etc and I've turned out alright. Dd1 had phases of princesses and Barbie and all things pink and sparkly. She grew out of them, she's one of the most feminist teenagers I know, she's absolutely certain that she will have a good career and she's planning on her partner staying home with the dcs when she has them (I think there may be some compromise and some childcare used). So I don't think it's that bad to watch some films with sexist messages, as long as we discuss the sexism in them.

libertytrainers Thu 29-May-14 08:52:32

my son loves the cat returns

BillnTedsMostFeministAdventure Thu 29-May-14 14:45:15

Kiki's Delivery Service.

Girl leaves home, gets job, takes care of self. Studio Ghibili.

See for recommendations.

Pregnantberry Thu 29-May-14 14:59:28


If you liked the Studio Ghibli stuff then I recommend Spirited Away - but you might need to wait until he is older because there are some parts which might be scary to a 3/4 year old.

gamescompendium Fri 30-May-14 01:20:27

Lilo and Stitch, The Rescuers, Wreck It Ralph, Frozen, Brave, Tangled, (last 3 are 'best' of the Disney Princess films but generally I'd say the non-princess films are better) Despicable Me, The Secret of NIHM (although if you loved the book you might get annoyed at the film), Hoodwinked, The Last Unicorn (very old and retro this one), The Wild Thornberries, Kiki's Delivery Service. Avoid most Pixar if you want female role models, generally they don't have many women in them.

OutsSelf Fri 30-May-14 22:42:34

Thank you everyone, we got The Cat Returns today but didn't quite get round to watching it.

I totally get that we can't avoid it forever, but he is very young! I don't mind doing a bit of ideology critique while we're watching but it does get a bit waring. Also, he is so young that the vague association between beauty and goodness is likely to 'take' whereas my impassioned critique of it is less like to make sense. So it might be nice to just hold it all off for a few years...

I take the point that we live in a sexist culture and it's everywhere. I too grew up in a culture of Barbie and Care Bears etc and I am fundamentally okay. But at the same time, I do live in a sexist environment and I do see the men around me privileged and I see part of that happening because of the things we all grew up accepting as normal.

Can I just ask - Mulan? I've not seen it but avoided it out of Disneyism (cartoon beauty etc.) plus the fact that it seemed to be a romantic retelling of a well documented incidence of statuatory rape. This is a vague sense I had of it and not related to any experience of seeing or discussing it, am I way off?

Also, I didn't think Frozen had done that well, I was sure I'd seen some Fems weeping about it somewhere?

WisemansBridge Fri 30-May-14 22:55:43

My dds like Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2 (in the 2nd film there is a strong adult female and the 3 little girls who are in both films are non girly and brave).

They enjoy Hotel for Dogs which is about a brother and sister rescuing stray dogs and building a hotel for them. The sister is the older of the two and very brave and clever.

Cloudy with a chance of meatballs again a good, strong, intelligent female.

The Lion King is okay because the female lion is tougher and more feisty than the lead male. The female hyena is leader of the hyena pack too. Having said that the main characters are male.

I think Frozen is the least offensive of the princessy films because the lead female doesn't have a 'prince charming' rescue her and it's the love between the sisters that saves the day. It's not a perfect feminist film but an improvement on the others for sure (although I've heard Brave is also moving in the right direction - haven't seen it yet myself).

mimilovell Sat 31-May-14 00:27:23

I watch everything and rate it on what would my child learn. If there is any sexual stuff with it, swearing, then it is a no go.

gamescompendium Sat 31-May-14 00:37:01

I've watched Frozen a lot over the last few weeks. If you know it was based on The Snow Queen it will be a terrible disappointment. But the relationship between the sisters is the most important and my girls really respond to the sisterly relationship (we're seeing the same effect with the Little House books at the moment) and I think that is valuable. Not as good as Lilo and Stitch though which has a real depth of female representations and a more realistic sisterly relationship.

Brave is also 'an improvement' on most princess movies but is fundamentally about women being married off. Merida is a good character and again the central relationship is between female relations (this time mother and daughter).

i think there is an element of working out what you really want from a film and then making peace with that and any imperfections associated with that decision. For me there are very few 'perfect' feminist cartoons, and so I go with female lead characters (preferably not princesses) to balance the male led films they see everywhere else, passing the Bechdal and with preferably several female secondary characters (that last one is hard to find).

ReallyFuckingFedUp Sat 31-May-14 08:11:47

Mulan is feminist. But not to a 3 year old. Wouldn't let him watch it, the songs are quite sexist because the characters are sexist, but a 3 year old will just accept it with out understanding the context. .

I totally disagree with your view of Totoro. I grew up watching My Neighbor Totoro and it was my favourite films and a quite empowering one. The children in Ghibli films are great for making children feel like the have a voice. Mum isn't pathetic, she's very ill. Dad is doing a good job taking care of his own children but still a single parent with an ill partner so the oldest child is left taking on some of the adult work..and the old lady is not dodgy at all. She's lovely and cares about the children.

I think UP is a great non sexist film

ReallyFuckingFedUp Sat 31-May-14 08:13:48

UP has also (unrelated to feminism) of the best scenes I've ever seen in a film about infertility.

Oh and Brave. Dd loves it and love shooting her bow and arrow too.

ReallyFuckingFedUp Sat 31-May-14 08:17:30

Brave is also 'an improvement' on most princess movies but is fundamentally about women being married off. Merida is a good character and again the central relationship is between female relations (this time mother and daughter).

It is about her being married off, but that was a reality for girls then. Watching her shoot to "win her own hand" makes me a bit weepy every time blush

There also isn't any of the sexist songs to go along with it like in Mulan which can be an issue for children.

ThinkIveBeenHacked Sat 31-May-14 08:20:13

This is why I like Pochahontas. It seems very balanced male/female. And she refuses to go to England with him at the end.



OutsSelf Sun 01-Jun-14 14:09:17

Okay, thanks.for.views smile

WRT to Totorro, it's that it's all quite gender conformist. And the old lady is lovely but is set up by the film as faintly ridiculous - Mai turns up covered in dust just as the old woman is saying she kept the place dusted, when Mai goes missing and they find a shoe, she's described as "making up stories - again"; she's not thought highly of, it's not a respectful portrait. And the mum is held in hospital for a cold and treated like a child by the dad and medical profession. And I thought that if the mum and dad roles were swapped, we wouldn't be invited to celebrate how well the mum's doing at home on her own in the context that the school aged child was making lunch for the pre schooler even though there was a parent at home all day with her. And despite this being so, she still didn't get fed as dad was too busy to stop for lunch and had no clue where she was when his eldest daughter did get in. I'm fairly certain that that would have looked a bit more neglectful, if the mum had been the one failing to organise packed lunch or keep track of her four year old.

I may be overthinking this.

We tried The Cat Returns, he was really upset by the implied injury to (evil) cats. I think he too young, he's basically got no concept of rooting for the "goodies" or taking pleasure in the thwarting of "badies;" as far as he was concerned everyone was behaving badly grin and no one deserves to be flattened or pushed off a high building. Out of the mouths of babes, and all that...

gamescompendium Sun 01-Jun-14 18:16:23

Watching her shoot to "win her own hand" makes me a bit weepy every time blush

I'll let you off, I get a bit weepy every time I watch Elsa sing 'Let it Go' in Frozen.

Fram Sun 01-Jun-14 21:26:04

I'm pretty sure the mother in Totoro had cancer or tuberculosis, and obviously having a cold would prevent release from hospital! It's set in the 50s.
I do think the dad isn't v good at looking after his children... however I think it was fairly common in many cultures for older siblings to make food for themselves/younger siblings- I'm not that old, and I had to!

I think The Cat Returns is completely over a 3yo's head- my children couldn't understand it until about 6 or so. Kiki's delivery service is great though, and I love the city she moves to- it's just heavenly! I want to leave home, and have a little attic above a bakery too envy

Rockdoctor Tue 03-Jun-14 18:01:15

I'd also suggest looking at some of the other Studio Ghibli movies. We like Ponyo and the one that is based on The Borrowers (Arrietty?), but I think you have to think of the cultural context.

ReallyFuckingFedUp Tue 03-Jun-14 19:24:12

Yeah that's how I see the illness too Fram, also the old lady does do the dusting..the sprites made it dusty!

Greythorne Tue 03-Jun-14 19:28:46

Mary Poppins

Suffragette mother.
Father goes on a journey to become a better Dad.
Both boy child and girl child learn how to do housework by magic.
Jolly songs.

ReallyFuckingFedUp Tue 03-Jun-14 20:06:58

I like your addition of "jolly songs" grin

TheSarcasticFringehead Tue 03-Jun-14 20:14:55

I work for Disney and we don't have the best track record, avoid a lot, more recent films are great- seriously, Maleficent is very feminist, mother's love and not just romantic love, Frozen is great imo. Despicable Me is great in my opinion- the girls are strong characters who aren't typically 'girly' in any way shape of form, the younger one might like stereotypically feminine things (pink unicorns, fairies and so on) but is more balanced, like a real child.

I dislike Mary Poppins- the suffragette mother is shown as quite weak and stupid.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now