Like the rest of the world I was shocked to hear the news of the death of Hollywood actor and uproarious funnyman Robin Williams. He was a performer who brought countless laughs as well as a steady stream of tears, quite often within the same scene. He was known for his manic comedy stylings and blistering on-screen presence, perhaps captured best of all in the 1993 hit Mrs Doubtfire.
Williams stars as Daniel Hillard, a gifted impressionist who loses virtually all contact with his children following a messy divorce from his wife. In a desperate attempt to stay in his children’s lives, he dons a prosthetic mask, wig and heels and becomes the children’s estranged British nanny – Mrs Doubtfire.
Mrs Doubtfire is a wonderful feminist work that depicts the every-day struggles single mothers face raising their children. Despite the fictitious and comedic nature of the film it is a tale every man should take note of if he wishes to make a meaningful positive impact on his children. Mrs Doubtfire is the woman every man should be – not in the sense that he has to dress up as a woman – but rather that he should possess and embrace the typical feminine qualities our society has long dictated.
It is here that we see a wonderful juxtaposition of the stereotypical gender roles – the man is a breadwinner and the woman looks after the kids. However in Mrs Doubtfire, the mother goes out to work and Daniel finds himself unemployed and as a primary carer for the children. Mrs Doubtfire is one of my favourite films in this respect, as not only is it funny, but it highlights the important message that you don’t have to be a woman to be a feminist, and that families come in all shapes and sizes.
“There are all sorts of different families, Katie. Some families have one mommy, some families have one daddy, or two families. And some children live with their uncle or aunt. Some live with their grandparents, and some children live with foster parents. And some live in separate homes, in separate neighborhoods, in different areas of the country – and they may not see each other for days, or weeks, months… even years at a time. But if there’s love, dear… those are the ties that bind, and you’ll have a family in your heart, forever.” – Mrs Doubtfire