12 thoughts on “Cartoon Mothers


  1. They’re not all dead. Dexter, Phineas and Ferb — and their friends. Snoopy’s mom lives on a breeding farm. And so on.


    • Rugrats actually had two of three families as nuclear. Wild Thornberry’s were nuclear as well. The Simpsons, and the Flanders. South Park has a mix of widower fathers and nuclear families.

      I don’t understand.

      I guess Bugs Bunny’s mom is not in the picture, but I’m pretty sure he, Daffy, Wile E., Roadrunner, et al. are all supposed to be emancipated adults.


  2. I thought the author was a dingus. She raises an interesting point, (about the missing mother’s in children’s stories) but there are not so subtle gender-baiting, man-hating, undertones. I would like to see a Stacy McCarin retort.

    It seems to me that children often view Mother’s as their safety nets. Take away someone’s safety net and they are sort of on their own, a concept that to children (one day leaving their mothers) is both exhilarating and frightening. It immediately allows the viewer to have empathy for the motherless lead character and root for them as the underdog, because not having a mother would be a difficult thing for a child. All children know that one day they too will have to grow up and leave home (unless they grow up to live in their mother’s basement), so seeing the motherless lead character gives the child something in common with the protagonist.

    That the protagonist has a happy ending in children’s stories gives the child comfort and hope that they too will be able to make it when they grow up and leave the safety of their mother’s homes.

    I also fail to see why having fathers who often transform into the good guy, as a recurring theme, is a bad thing. The suggestion that this scenario is opposite from reality (as the author suggests that less than 10% of households are single fathers while 25% are single mothers) would seem to make the good-guy father figure all the more desirable to those children raised fatherless who yearn for that figure in their own lives. It allows the child viewer to be envious and to desire to have what the protagonist has.

    When you consider that these are simply story telling devices used that people WANT to see because it gives them feelings they WANT to have, then it is obvious why the devices are used again and again in children’s movies. It isn’t because we WANT to kill off mothers, it is because we WANT to like and relate to the main character, and having them off on their own does that. What sort of hero has his mom running behind him wiping his nose and cleaning his messes? If mom were with the protagonist, there would not be the same sense of danger because Mom would simply make the bad guys play nice. Isn’t that what mother’s do?/

    I’d like to see Ms. Boxer’s next article be on the poor treatment of fathers in sitcoms (the constant portrayals of the lead male figure as a lovable loser… what John Tierney described in the NYT’s as the “doofus dad.”) but I don’t think her heart would be in an article like that.


  3. All those tales show the loss of the mother as a heart-wrenching, life-changing blow that the child manages to overcome and survive and prosper.

    Is this the same Sarah Boxer who is producer for Ronan Farrow’s blockbuster hit MSNBC show?


  4. All I can really add is… women in red shirts were usually safe in landing parties. It’s the blue shirted women who were at risk.

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