As the mother of both a daughter and a son, I have the pleasure of being exposed to MANY types of movies. An abundance of them are your princess stories where the girl is the protagonist, and the guy plays a supporting role at best. These are the classics. Great stories, but no real strong male characters.
And then I get to thinking about television shows and other PG-13+ movies that come out this day in age, and I'm overwhelmed by the sense that the girl has to save the guy. And then I take a look at the men in our "family" oriented sitcoms and wonder why any woman would want to save these sniveling, self-absorbed, incompetent, incapable baboons that the media makes them out to be.
And then, if you happen to find a halfway noble male character to follow, the writers like to blur the lines between good and evil so much that you can't always tell if you're really rooting for the good guy or not. Or is your good guy really a bad one? Who knows these days.
Don't get me wrong. I'm all for a strong female lead, and I'm glad that movies progressed from Snow White to Tangled (although I could do with a little less rebellion in my animated characters). I just wish there were more movies with male leads who were true heroes. You know what kind of movie I'd like to see? Sleeping Beauty remade from Prince Phillip's point of view.
Every girl wants to be a princess, but every boy should want to be a prince as well.
I know. Boys have the market on super heroes, and Jedi knights, and soldiers. It's just not cool to be a prince. Fairy tales are for sissies. Unless you're Jack.
Jack the Giant Killer was like stepping back in time to when I was a little girl and fairy tales played out exactly as they should--lots of heroics and a perfectly happy ending.
The princess is strong-willed, but respectful and loving to her father even if she does defy him secretly by leaving the castle. At least she stated her case knowledgeably and was well-spoken and level headed in the process. She never lost her cool or her grace throughout the movie.
And Jack? Ah Jack. He fell for the girl, and he would defend her honor and protect her at any cost to himself. He even humbly accepted his station in life without rebellion or a fight. He didn't press for his way or sneak around with the princess behind her father's back. He was too noble for that. He had dignity and honor for the king and his daughter. No, but he would protect her with his life, regardless, of those circumstances, and his perseverance to do the right thing eventually won him the prize he truly wanted, and he didn't have to deceive or defy or demean his own character in the process. Imagine that?
All the while, the soldiers fought bravely. They finished the tasks they started, even to death. The commander of the army has the bravery of legends. Real bravery. In-your-face, no-holds-bar, do-it-or-die-trying bravery. The stuff that real men are made of.
It's been a very long time since I've enjoyed heroes in a film with actual character--noble character. Think about it. Soldiers in movies often have to make the tough calls of "do I follow orders and kill this person or defy orders and do the right thing". That may be real life, but it sends a mixed message to our youth watching. Heroes often sacrifice their nobility to appear to the be the bad guy for the greater good of the people. ie. Batman, Spiderman Again, a mixed message to our youth. Or super heroes have some ridiculous character flaw like Hulk and his uncontrollable anger, Iron Man and his arrogance.
I'm a huge fan of Optimus Prime, but he's a robot from another planet (strange how his noble ideals seem foreign and old fashioned in this day in age). Sam? Not someone I want my little man to grow up to be.
But Jack? I'd love it if he became a Jack. Maybe a bit wayward at times, lost in the beginning, but with a heart of gold, the determination of a mule. Honorable, humble, smart, quick on his feet, and brave, terribly, terribly, terribly brave, even when facing his greatest fears. He set his eyes on the prize and did what it took to get the job done. Save the Princess. Protect the kingdom. Honor the crown. I want my son to be this way, and I want my daughter to grow up looking for a man like this.
So yeah, despite the gruesome parts, if my son was 9, 10, 11, I'd take him to see this movie. This life we live is far scarier than some digitally created, malformed monsters at the top of a beanstalk. No in this life my son will face the real giants of fear and failure, so he better learn to grit his teeth and fight for something worth more than his own life. Save the princess. Protect the kingdom. Honor the Crown. To do that he has to know what the words noble, dignity, respect, honor, humility, and brave really mean. And to know that he has to see what they mean. See them demonstrated and lived out. Those aren't words you memorize off a page. Those are words you emulate from life.
So I'm grateful for my husband who does his best to be my brave prince. I'm grateful for the other men in my son's life who demonstrate these words in their own ways. I just pray that more are out there. That our culture hasn't emasculated every last male to fit into a pair of skinny jeans, gel his hair just the way she likes it, and do the princess's bidding at her beck and call.
No. The princess wants a man with a sword, strong arms, and an equally strong mind who will come after her when she takes off down the path of her own adventure. Who will unlock the cages she might find herself in. Who will travel WITH her down the heights of the beanstalk and keep her safe as she tries to complete her own quest in life.
And princesses, that man needs you to tell him he's a prince in your eyes, that you trust him to keep you safe, that you have faith in his abilities to lead and protect you, and that you see and believe he can be more than he thinks he is.
They each need each other as much as the other. Just in different ways. It's how God designed it. It's how it works best.
They tell us fairy tales are an illusion these days. That they cloud reality. Not to set your hopes in a man or a woman. You'll be sadly disappointed. That there's no such thing as love at first sight. I beg to differ.
God loved me the moment he thought of me. And when Joey and I focus our marriage on that love, on loving THE King, He grows in us the character we need to live a life that glorifies Him--the greatest adventure of all. I'm the princess, and Joey's the prince. God saved us both, and He entrusts us to protect the Kingdom and honor the Crown. Greatest adventure on earth! So grateful he gave me a prince who's good with a Holy Sword and has a strong back and equally strong mind because we sure have a lot of fun going on adventures together=)
So maybe Jack the Giant Killer is a fairy tale. Maybe it's not real life or completely relatable. Not enough character flaws some would say. Well, I think the pendulum for me is starting to swing. When it comes to the media I watch and expose my kids to, I think I'll take some make believe nobility and chivalry over real-life deceit and cowardice any day of the week.
So that's my biased opinion on the movie. Take it or leave it--I'm just encouraged that not all "boy" movies are dark and/or gory.