I recently began watching The Shanara Chronicles on netflix. Terry Pratchett's story has so much potential, interesting premise and characters, even good actors, but what made me press 'stop' and never go back was the skinny, under-dressed, big-eyed, pathetic lead character - Amberle. A princess warrior (apparently) who wears skin-tight leather trousers and a bustier when supposedly wielding a sword and only manage to get a few cuts on her bare arms.
I'm sick and tired of these flat chested, anorexic bimbos telling my young daughter what to be!
Over time we've seen the portrayal of women in adventure movies shift from impossibly big-breasted/narrow-waisted/wide-hipped sex symbols to 'warriors' clad in scanty leather armour, to wearing nothing more than body paint and now to looking like teenage boys. (So who's casting that look?) It makes me seriously worried about the future for my young daughter. Let alone what boys actually think of these portrayals of their friends as they grow up. What are the expectations of girls in relationships? If girls can't even dress seriously for a job, how can they expect equal pay? Why should a man be more appropriately (and safely) dressed than a woman? Why do we need to see her 'sexy bits' anyway? Isn't it her skill and intelligence that will get her out of trouble?
Add to this the yawning chasm of decent material in kids films generally, modelling a narrow field of career suggestions such as:
Where are the engineers, the scientists, the writers, the mechanics, the biologists, the veterinaries, the animal wranglers, the hair dressers, the occupational therapists, the physios, the speech therapists, the martial arts professionals, the teachers, the horticulturalists, the editors, the plumbers, the electricians, the soldiers, the pilots, the captains, architects, the garden designers, the skippers, the racing car drivers, the police officers, the doctors and nurses, the chefs, the surgeons, the waiters... I could go on and on and on....
Real Lives, Real Excitement
So I decided I would put aside a few minutes and come up with scenarios for books/films that are actually interesting and give kids a wider view of the sorts of careers they could have. Exciting lives they could lead, interesting situations they could find themselves, which don't involve a high school musical/dance/singing competition.
Here they are:
The Apprentice Zookeeper
David's dad has been taken prisoner by the gorillas in their enclosure. Does David know enough about these magnificent, dangerous creatures to get Dad back alive?
Jordan lives on Mars, where five steps outside can kill you. When his little brother goes outside in a sandstorm, can he find him?
Ride Like the Wind
In Mongolia the horse is king and growing up is dangerous. Can Sika prove herself worthy to ride with her father?
Training with the enemy
Allie's parents hate football. They hate the Hampton Howlers even more. Allie wants to go to the Olympics but how can she get there without the right coach?
Working with his biologist father, Alex has discovered a ferocious new species. Can he capture it?
Children of the Dust
In Africa friendship can be dangerous, especially if your friend is a child soldier.
The Moon Pool
Sallie lives at the bottom of the ocean in a research lab where the pets are rather unusual.
Charlie has a new pet that no one wants to cuddle.
School and other Pains
Cassie lives in the outback where her classmates meet only once a year.
Re-training abused horses takes patience and skill, but Sarah's choice is un-trainable.
The Colour of Love
Sometimes all you have left is the will to survive. Julie's parents are struggling to protect the last pride of lions on Earth.