Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Stepfather (1987)

This is Deadly Daddies Week! All this week we'll look at some of the nastiest, meanest and downright scariest fathers to cross the silver screen.

The Stepfather (1987)
seen online via YouTube

I don't want to be a father. I've given this a great deal of thought over the years. There have been moments when I thought it might be nice - like maybe helping to shape a new life into something greater than myself would be a worthy goal somehow... especially if it also meant having a wife that I loved and was devoted to. But I'm convinced that parenthood is not for me, and never will be. I've given my reasons why before.

I've recently discovered a blog called STFU Parents, that collects submissions of Facebook and Twitter messages from overzealous parents who take parenting a bit too seriously sometimes. Becoming a parent changes your life, of course, and for many people it's a profound and humbling experience, no doubt, but does it really turn you into a self-entitled prick who thinks their children can do no wrong? I sure as hell don't wanna become that.

Over the past thirty years or so, thanks to the gay civil rights struggle, we've seen the definition of family become redefined. The traditional 1950s-style nuclear family unit no longer has to be the ideal anymore - especially when you consider the divorce rate. Yet so many people feel threatened by this movement, as if their own families will somehow magically become invalidated if two gay people get married. I've never understood that kind of thinking and I doubt I ever will.

The entertaining, but otherwise cliche film The Stepfather uses this as the motivation for Terry O'Quinn's titular character, but I thought the movie didn't run far enough with it. I like the scene where O'Quinn, who plays a realtor, discusses a house with who he thinks is a prospective buyer. They get into a discussion of family. The potential buyer says he's a bachelor, which gets O'Quinn going on a spiel about the importance of family. The other guy says, "Are you not gonna sell me this house because I'm a bachelor?" The scene goes in a completely different direction after that, but I wish there had been more scenes like this, where O'Quinn really pushes his attitude onto people. I can't help but wonder if the 2009 remake heightens that contrast between traditional nuclear families and modern ones (I doubt it).

I don't want this to seem as if I'm opposed to nuclear families; I'm not. I grew up in one. I just think that people, especially those in positions of power, who feel the need to dictate to others how they should raise their families are dangerous. Maybe not as much as O'Quinn's psycho-killer character, but dangerous enough.

Previously on Deadly Daddies Week:
The Attic


  1. I am also in the anti-parenthood camp! (For myself I mean, obviously I'm not going to take away others' right to have kids.) Not only would I be an awful mother, but I don't like children! Or pregnancy! Or parents! It's just a no-win situation, really.

    I haven't seen THE STEPFATHER but always thought it looked interesting, as I've never seen Terry O'Quinn outside of LOST and like the idea of him being a crazy killer dad. The changing concept of the traditional family is an interesting idea to spin a slasher movie around, so it's too bad the filmmakers didn't go further with it!

    STFU Parents looks amazing. Bookmarking.

  2. Seeing O'Quinn in this actually raised my interest in 'Lost.'


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