How come so many recent kids' movies feature dead mothers and fathers who save the day? Examples are numerous: Finding Nemo and Despicable Me immediately come to mind. This article suggests, in short, that it stems from "womb envy" and "misogyny made cute" - effectively, men trying to strip women of the power of motherhood.
That is probably a part of it, but it doesn't explain the appeal of these movies to audiences, which includes in large part adult women. How many adult women do you know who love children's cartoons to the point of obsession? And I admit, I sobbed while watching Despicable Me. I believe the audience appeal is that having a father who is involved in our lives and truly cares about us is, for many people, a fantasy we know will probably never be fulfilled but deeply long for. Among my friends and family, almost no one I know has a father who has cared about them and been involved in their lives. "Daddy issues" are so pervasive I know almost no one who doesn't have them. And in many of these films, the plot is about the redemption of the father figure - as in, they're a shit father at the start of the film and they become truly caring by the end. Despicable Me is a perfect example. At the start Gru is using the girls for his schemes, but by the end he has fallen deeply in love with them. This is wish fulfillment for many people, myself included, whose fathers never cared about them. This article even cites the statistic that only 8% of fathers are "single fathers" - and of the couples who remain married, how many of the fathers take an active role in their kids' lives? How many truly feel close to their kids? I don't think there are any statistics on this, but based on anecdotal evidence from my personal life, my guess is 1, maybe 2, in 10. That leaves a lot of kids who really wish they had a father who gave a shit.
The truly disturbing implication of Boxer's article is that, somehow, fathers feel they cannot be involved or good parents as long as there is a mother around - as if parenting is a competition.
I know my thoughts on this subject are less than coherent, and I'm not a parent, either. What do you guys think? Am I way off base? And if not, how do we as a society go about combating the issue of absent and disconnected fathers?