Portrayal of Mothers in Top-Grossing Live Action Family Films: Intensive neoliberal mothering ideals from 2011 to 2016
Parker, Kandice Margaret 1983-
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The research undertaken was a media content analysis of 34 mother characters in 23 top grossing live action family films between the years 2011 and 2016. The analysis focused on three ideologies of mothers and motherhood: 1) traditional mothering 2) intensive mothering, and 3) the portrayal of the “yummy mummy”. Two dominant societal narratives linked to the expectations of modern motherhood were also measured: 1) postfeminism, and 2) neoliberalism. Two new versions of the Bechdel test, the “Mother Bechdel Test Version A” and the “Mother Bechdel Test Version B,” were created to assess the representation and multi-faceted development of mother characters in family film. Results indicated that top-grossing live action family films emphasized and romanticized traditional views of mothering, mother characters subscribed to the modern demands of intensive mothering, and further adhered to “yummy mummy” standards. The films evidenced neoliberal ideals and the postfeminist notion that sexism is a non-issue. White, heterosexual motherhood was overwhelmingly portrayed, and multi-faceted representations of on-screen motherhood were dismal. While overall mother characters did not play an important role in the film, fathers enacted the role of hero in approximately 54% of the films assessed. Across the 23 films analyzed, approximately 19% of people involved in the production, direction, or writing were female. The findings suggest that popular family films contain socially constructed ideologies of motherhood which glamorize both traditional and modern ideas of “good mothers” who are dependent on men.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
SupervisorMorrison, Melanie A
CommitteeMorrison, Todd G; Martin , Stephanie; Mandryk , Regan L
Copyright DateDecember 2017