Screentime: Moana’s Dad Sucks

(Walt Disney Studios Motion pictures)

Where You Are.

“Daddy, this you.”

My daughter loves to identify the characters she sees, in books, TV, movies, with counterparts from her real life. She’ll point to a random woman in a picture book and loudly declare, “It’s Grandma”. There’s an illustration snail she will reliably identify as “Mommy” for no discernible reason. In The Cat In The Hat, there’s a crudely sketched portrait of a dude with a huge nose

Every time we read the book she points at the damn painting and says “PICTURE OF DADDY” over and over again until I say “Yes, that’s a picture of daddy can we please move on?”

So it came as no surprise when she held up a figurine of Chief Tui, Moana’s father, and told me “Daddy, this you”. In fact, it made more sense than many of the characters that are “me”. My daughter obviously identifies with Moana and Tui is Moana’s dad. Simple.

Initially, the comparison seemed favorable. For a start, Tui is a pretty impressive-looking guy. If this is what my kid sees when she looks at me, I’m doing something right. He’s also the Chief of a whole dang island, which looks pretty good on your CV.

Pictured: Me (Left); Other Dads (Right) (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/20th Television)

The Perfect Daughter

But the more I thought about the movie, the more uncomfortable I was about being linked with Tui in my daughter’s mind. Obviously, there is the fact of his being the main obstacle to Moana exploring the ocean, saving the world and finding herself in the process. But that’s just the start of it!

Moana is rightly praised for being a female-led film in which the heroine’s victory is her own. No man swoops in to save the day, or to offer a ring. Instead, the men of the film represent the status quo, the facts of the world that Moana must navigate around. It is no accident, therefore, that the two most significant male presences in the film are both authority figures. Tui and Maui are both powerful men, and each can be seen as representing different types of dad. (Stay with me here)

Maui and Moana
(Youtube//DisneyMusicVevo)

You’re Welcome

Maui’s is less so, but still valid. Maui is the figurative father of humanity. The litany of feats he lists in “You’re Welcome” demonstrate that without him, human lives would be unrecognizable. Tides, Wind, Land, Fire, Coconuts. All the things Moana and her people treat as givens, he handed to them. In the same sense that Prometheus is the father of humanity in Greek mythology, Maui is father to us all.

Maybe this is the dude I want to be compared to. Magic, heroic, legendary. Sounds pretty good!

But what kind of a father is he? As his song proclaims, he is a heroic one. He has performed incredible, dangerous feats to improve the lives of his children. He is brave and strong, fun and adventurous. But he also solves all his problems in the same way: Brute force.

He is also an absent father. His version of fatherhood consists of providing, but not sustaining. As soon as a complication approaches, he runs away.

His self-image is so dependent on his heroic victories & his strength that he cannot face the possibility of failure. I don’t want that.

Maui Flies Away
(Youtube//Nicole Sthefania)

Consider The Coconut

So I guess it’s back to Moana’s actual father, Tui. He has a more grounded, less spectacular, approach. He emphasizes tradition, tries to teach responsibility. I can get behind this, I suppose. I mean, kind of boring, but commendable.

Apart from two things. Firstly, he uses the twin swords of Tradition and Responsibility to hem his daughter in, stopping her not only from following her heart, but from coming up with genuine solutions to real problems they both face.

Secondly, it becomes clear he’s doing this not in order to help his daughter develop or grow, or even because he genuinely thinks its what’s best. He’s just projecting his own fear of the ocean onto her. His talk of tradition is just a cover for his own hang-ups. He doesn’t run away, he just hides behind his value-system!

I don’t wanna be either of these dudes!

(YouTube// Ultimate Productions)

A Girl Who Loves Her Island, A Girl Who Loves The Sea

In the end, though, Moana herself doesn’t outright reject either of these flawed father figures. She embraces the Tui’s responsibilities and traditions while rejecting the fears that guided him. She embraces Maui’s bravery and sense of adventure but rejects his fear of failure and his violence. She takes the best of each of them, rejecting their shortcomings, and becomes her own, stronger, person, finding solutions neither of them could ever see. (Obviously, this is also in large part due to the supportive maternal figures in her life, but you knew that.)

So I suppose I don’t mind whether my kid sees me as Tui, or Maui, or Heihei. I just hope that she can take the best of me, and use it to forge her own, better, way.

I Am Moana
(YouTube//ArchieBuld)

Pro Photographer Dad Photoshops Son Into Epic Scenes

(instagram/adrian_sommeling)

Adrian Sommeling is a Dutch commercial photographer and editor who creates advertising images for companies all over the world. In his free time, however, he prefers to use his expert image-manipulation skills to create fantasy photography.

The images he creates are truly amazing with a whimsical and dreamlike quality. And many of them feature his son who loves to cameo in his dad’s masterpieces. Whether he’s joyriding on the wing of an airborne airplane or cruising on a flaming bicycle like a la Ghost Rider, it’s hard to tell who is having more fun – father or son.

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Want to see more of Adrian’s work? Check out his Instagram and Facebook.

Want to learn how to create your own awesome surreal images? Learn from Adrian himself by purchasing his tutorials on his website.

Dad and Kids Scrap Photo Session to Clean Beach

(Getty Images/Phonix_a)

A father’s plans for a scenic photo shoot with his sons was derailed by a beach littered with trash. So the trio performed a good deed and definitely didn’t let their time together go to waste.

John Horton and his sons, Jaime, 13, and Lewis, 9, headed to the beach to take a few photos by the ocean. Upon arrival they noticed their usual lovely seaside view was marred by garbage. Incensed and eager to restore the beach, they decided to scrap the photos and instead focus on cleaning up the beach.

Highschooler Jaime Horton told Isle of Thanet News, “It’s our home and we don’t want to see it in such a state.”

The list of items the family cleared was endless and unpleasant: glass bottles, silverware, broken pieces of plastic, plastic wrap, beach balls, soccer balls, plastic buckets, and used baby wipes.

“We just cleared the big bits and dangerous stuff, we couldn’t do anymore as we had all our camera equipment and only intended to take photos around the coast, but when we saw the beach that plan was instantly scrapped! If we had planned to do a beach clear up we would’ve taken the right stuff with us but as we didn’t we were limited,” said the elder Horton.

He speculated that it had been left behind by daytrippers who’d visited the beach on holiday and had little regard for the state they left it in. He thought their hometown should be charged for the mess they made.

“I think TDC should find out where they were from and charge their authority for the clean up.”

The town of Thanet was grateful for the family’s efforts. Councillor Jason Savage said: “Firstly our thanks must go to the young people for their time and effort in clearing the litter left on the beach. They are a credit to themselves and I will be contacting them to offer an opportunity to meet to extend my thanks in person.”

Dad Installs Defibrillator at School, Saves Son’s Life With It

(Getty Images/Picture Alliance)

Most teens would be embarrassed if their dad worked at their school. But one teenager is incredibly lucky that his does.

Stuart Askew works as the premises manager at Steiner Academy in England where his 15-year-old son Ethan is a student. When Ethan suddenly collapsed into a former student’s arms during phys ed, his dad was on the scene to help. And thankfully so was a defibrillator

As luck would have it – the defibrillator had only recently arrived at the school after the British Heart Foundation approved their application for one

And It get’s even more astounding: Ethan’s dad installed it. 

“Literally two days before, I was sitting in the middle of the staff room putting the battery in it – and then the idea that the first person that it gets used on is actually my son… It’s staggering,” Stuart told BBC News.

Stuart was informed of his son’s collapse by a few classmates, and when he saw someone performing chest compressions on his son, he knew it was no run-of-the-mill sports injury.

“I’m a first-aider at school, and with the number of stubbed toes and things like that you get on a daily basis you don’t really worry when somebody says something like that – but I ran down to the field…As I was sprinting across, I realised somebody was doing chest compressions on him and it kind of takes a couple of seconds to realise what that truly means.”

He used the defibrillator on his own son, and saved his life.

“It was very scary, but as soon as I remembered we had a defibrillator I kind of didn’t doubt it would have an OK ending. It was a terrible and frightening experience but I never really had any doubt that that was it.”

Ethan was taken away in an ambulance and put into an induced coma so that doctors could perform surgery. Turns out he had a narrow artery that was having trouble delivering oxygen during exercise.

I don’t think Ethan has any issues with his dad working at his school anymore.

Father Figures: Make It Happen

“I was so beat down at my job that I was constantly thinking ‘What the hell’s wrong with me?’ and ‘Why do I feel like I’m failing?’ and ‘Why can’t I do this?’ And realizing that I was thinking like that hurt even worse because we just had our first child and I should have had ALL the awesome feels in the world.

I’d go into work every day at 6:30am and come home around 6:30pm, including weekends. And even when I came home, I was never really home. In my mind, I was still at work worrying about things I didn’t get done and constantly responding to work emails and text messages, all while thinking the negative thoughts I mentioned above.

This state of mind wasn’t just hurting me; my wife and child suffered. My wife because I’d barely talk to her as I sat on the sofa lost in my thoughts. My baby girl because I’d never have any energy left for her when I got home. I’d hold her, but mentally I just wasn’t there, all while she was beginning to develop a little personality and relationship with her dad. And I was missing it.

I was so conflicted because I really wanted to leave my job in order to be there for my family, financially, mentally and physically, but I needed the job to support my family. I couldn’t have one without the other, but I couldn’t suffer through one more day at work. Something had to give.

It sure as hell was NOT going to be my family. The family that my wife and I worked so hard to build was NOT going to be an afterthought. The job wasn’t worth losing them. I’d rather be living in a box on the street with a happy family than have money and feel terrible.

After an incident at work that finally broke this camel’s back, a three-minute phone call changed my life. I called my wife, wracked with fear and guilt, finally admitting (about my job), “This is it. I’m done. I’m so sorry for this, but I can’t do it anymore.” And the next words I heard from my wife changed me forever: “Don’t be sorry. I see what this job is doing to you every day, and your daughter can sense it, too. This isn’t worth what it’s doing to you. We’ll be okay. We’ll figure this out.”

So with the support of my wife, and knowing that I could start fresh with my daughter, I went straight to HR and asked to file for my own termination, effective immediately.

As I said my goodbyes to the coworkers I was going to miss, I walked out of the building flushed with adrenaline, feeling immediate panic and regret about what I had just done. I got into my truck to drive home and instantly started dry heaving from the stressful thoughts of what’s to come. I called my wife back, asking her a million times if I’d done the right thing, if I’d made a mistake. No matter how many times I’d ask, she’d always patiently say “You did the right thing.”

But I still wasn’t convinced… until my daughter came home from the sitter.

One look into her eyes with my new found sense of freedom and I knew everything was going to be alright, because we were together. I’d do anything for this little girl, but it had to start by being there for her. And I’ve never stopped since that moment.

After a small amount of time and personal reflection, I’ve moved on to an amazing job with an incredible company, and now I’m really happy. At work AND at home.

For those who are reading this and are feeling (in any way) like how I described above, this is what I have to say to you:

That was the single hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. To walk away from something I needed and into an uncertain future was terrifying! But I had the support of my wife and child to assure me that when there’s a will for a better ‘you,’ there’s a way to make it happen.

This concept doesn’t have to apply to a work scenario. If there is something about yourself that you want to change so bad, but can’t find the courage to do, look DEEP inside you to find that one reason, no matter how small of a reason it may seem, and FIGHT like hell to bring it to the surface. If you don’t have the strength by yourself to fight for it, lean on someone close to you and have them help you. If you feel like you’re fighting alone, read this post again from the beginning and realize that you are NOT alone.

Just. Fight. Like. Hell. But fight for a reason you believe in.

– Robert “Tony” Miller

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