Friday, 10 May 2013

All-stars: Does it pass the Sutton test?

Last weekend saw another family trip to the cinema, this time to watch All Stars, in which shy streetdancer Jayden must team up with wheeler-dealer Ethan to save their local youth club.

Now some of you may remember me proposing the Sutton Test, to complement the Bechdel Test (which I'm happy to say the film passed, by virtue of a brief conversation between 'Gina' (Ashley Jensen) and a council official). Put simply, the Sutton Test when applied to any media is:

1. Is there a man in it?
2. Is he a Dad?
3. Is he being anything other than a dickhead?
Unfortunately All Stars failed this test, aside from a few minutes of redemption at the end. To be fair, a) it's just a film (yes, I do know), and b) adults in general didn't fare well in this film. The whole point was that kids were doing stuff for themselves, in the face of bureaucratic madness, work-enduced exhaustion or blind ambition from the adults surrounding them.
But did there really have to be three crap Dads? Jayden's ignored his obvious love of and talent for music, banning him from dancing in favour of an entrance exam for an independent school. He did come round in the end when he chased him to the performance and actually saw him dance. Ethan's Dad was, again to be fair, a reasonably good portrayal of that kind of Dad that keeps banging on about being a lone wolf, not wanting to be tied down by actually facing up to his responsibilities and being there for his family and son. Amy's Dad, John Barrowman, spent the entire team grunting from the sofa (apart from one dream sequence), depressed at his wife walking out. I don't think he even made it to the show, which is unusual for John Barrowman.
I'm not saying that lots of Dads don't have those faults. But three of them, in one film? The portrayal of rubbish Dads in the media just seems so relentless. Maybe the Sutton test is even harder to pass than the Bechdel test. Or maybe the difference is that men in films start out rubbish and then, because the films are largely written and directed by men, by the end they're vaguely passable. Whereas women just barely get a look in as three dimensional, independent characters at all.

No comments:

Post a Comment