Of the many things I’ll never understand in my lifetime, fatherhood comes close to topping the list. I’ll never fully understand what fatherhood means to a man, just as a man could never fully understand what motherhood means to a woman.
But fatherhood – and fathers – influence so many aspects of my life and the lives of nearly everyone in any society. Biologically speaking, everybody has a father, and socially speaking, many people have more than one.
Fathers feature prominently in many geeky pastimes: the terrifying fathers like Anakin Skywalker, the long-gone fathers like James Potter, the absent or abusive fathers like Fire Lord Ozai, the father figures like Uncle Ben, and many more fathers and father figures I couldn’t possibly fit into just one editor’s letter. As much as fathers can define a character, though, it’s interesting to note that many of the fathers in geek culture define the protagonist in a negative way.
Luke Skywalker struggles with the fact that his father turned to the Dark Side.
Harry Potter never met his father, yet must deal with the consequences of being his father’s son and the resemblance he holds to James.
Prince Zuko was banished from the Fire Nation by his father, the Fire Lord, who also took his honor away and disfigured his face.
Peter Parker had a positive relationship with his Uncle Ben that was destroyed after Ben was murdered by a criminal Peter chose not to pursue, which launched his career as Spider-Man.
In fact, it’s difficult to think of a character in geek culture or pop culture whose biological father is a positive influence or role model in his or her life – or, if a character’s father IS a positive influence or role mode, to find a character whose positive father figure isn’t dead. If fatherhood truly has the impact most pop culture would suggest, why does nearly every protagonist have a negative relationship with his or her father?
This month, we’ll explore the idea of fatherhood and fathers and just what that means not only to us as people, but to the characters and stories we love so much. As readers, you’ll get in-depth analysis of fathers from the TV show Fringe and the anime Ouran High School Host Club as well as father figures from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Avatar: The Last Airbender. You’ll also find a discussion of father figures in young adult novels – or the lack thereof.
Fathers can lift us up or tear us down. What geek culture dads mean the most to you? Why?
Feliza Casano is the founder and editor in chief of Girls in Capes and writes for all sections of the web magazine. Her father is thankfully nothing at all like Fire Lord Ozai.