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March 14, 2011

Mars Needs Moms. Earth Needs Less Homophobia and Sexism.

I wasn't planning on going to see Mars Needs Moms for a few reasons...

1. Lil' Lilith hasn't begged asked me to take her to see it.
2. I think those weirdly CGI-animated movies are creepy.
3. The movie itself looks pretty dumb.

So I didn't pay any attention to the plot other than the fact that some kid's mom gets abducted and he has to go save her. Blah. Seemed like typical boring cheesy kids-movie fare.

Then I read a review from SomethingAwful.com and realized that there's a lot more wrong with this movie than being cheesy and creepy... it's also apparently anti-gay:
The reason Mars actually needs moms is that all the female martians are busy being leaders, soldiers and politicians. Because of this, they are apparently terrible mothers, because no woman can be in a position of power and possess maternal instincts. (There's a nanny-bot and some memory-erasing/murder of humans involved, but it's weird and boring and overall basically unimportant.) The men are no help, because they all live in a huddle together painting themselves in bright flamboyant colors and dancing and hugging all the time. (Seriously.) The men all live together because the women are led by an old angry lady who believes that women are stronger, and we should do away with all men. Then the movie goes out of its way to show that before Butchy McLes-alien took over, all children were raised by a man and a woman. Just like the Martian bible says it should be! The whole thing plays out like a particularly preachy episode of Futurama, minus any of the self-awareness. I kept thinking that I was reading too much into the film (impossible), but when Ke tells the Martians that they were meant to be raised by two parents, because that's the only way to feel love, I was convinced. And angered.
It's not often in this line of work that I get to write pieces that really matter, so I want to make the most of this. Mars Needs Moms isn't just offensive to gays, it's offensive to anyone who has a non-structuralist family. The overall message of the film is "Unless you're raised by one Mom AND one Dad, then you're wrong." Single parent? Wrong. Living with other relatives? Wrong. The film even makes sure we know that Milo has a Dad, although he serves no other purpose than letting us know that Milo is in a "proper family." [emphasis mine]
Wow. I was quite angered too after reading that review. Why didn't the trailer give any clues about what a homophobic, sexist hot mess this story was?

(And yes, you can make the argument that I haven't seen it yet, so I can't truly make a judgment based on someone else's review without having seen it. But unless the reviewer, Martin R. "Vargo" Schneider, is lying then I've really heard enough to make the decision not to see this - and more importantly, not to take my daughter to see this.) Perhaps it's possible that there's a little more self-awareness and irony in the film than Schneider is giving them credit for, but I'm doubtful, and even so, it's pretty clear what 'message' our kids will get from this propaganda film kids movie.

It's not only anti-gay (and anti-single parent/anti-non-traditional family) but it's also sexist and anti-feminist. In addition to the message that the only 'right' family has one mom and one dad (no single parents, no same-sex parents, no non-traditional families of any kind) kids are also subjected to the fucked up idea that women are the only people who can be nurturers (sorry dads) but that's all they should be.

This movie sends the message that it's a bad idea to let women be in power - in politics, in the military, or any position of power at all really because apparently if women achieve any level of power or prestige or responsibility outside of parenting and homemaking they are rendered incapable of fulfilling their real responsibilities of motherhood. In fact, they might just destroy civilization altogether! Why? Because feminists are evil, man-hating, power-hungry bitches incapable of running a country (let alone a planet).

How is it that two big time stars like working-mother Joan Cusack and Seth Green (who had a recurring role in the very gay-friendly Buffy the Vampire Slayer series) agreed to sign on to a movie with a message like this?

There have been plenty of matriarchal or matrifocal cultures that didn't crumble because no one was raising the poor babies. And although the United States is still very much a patriarchy, women have proven that they're totally capable of 'having it all' and achieving high levels of power with or without children and husbands. Same-sex marriage and civil partnerships are now legal in many U.S. states, as is LGBT adoption. A lot of experts have stated that not only do the children of same-sex couples grow up just as well developed as other kids, but gay marriage may actually be better for kids.

So why is this movie sending the message that in order to be happy and healthy kids need two parents of opposite genders? (We bet this is one film that the AFA and OMM won't be complaining about.)

Another reviewer from LostInReviews.com also questioned whether there were any racial overtones to the film:
First, all of the human characters were white. Usually, not a big deal. It’s not like that’s bad or good, just one of those things. But, the male aliens of Mars seem to be a little stereotypical. They all wear tribal paint, mainly yellow, black, green and red. They also have dreadlocks, larger lips and are projected as being idiots. I’m not trying to jump to conclusions, but it seemed like they made these aliens have very African traits. Now, it’s not a big deal to have a character like that, but through the entire movie, the other characters talk about how stupid the men are. Is it just me, or did it seem like this movie had a tiny, minuscule bit of racism to it?

I know what commenters are going to say about this post. Oh, you're making a big deal out of nothing. It's just a kids movie. Yes, it's a kids movie. That's exactly the problem. When movies for adults have subtle (or not so subtle) messages in them, at least adults have the ability to decipher these points and (hopefully) have the knowledge and intelligence to decide for themselves if they agree or not. But kids? Kids are much more impressionable. When kids movies have these kinds of messages, they're not just 'messages' but lessons.

So before you take your kids to see Mars Needs Moms think about what lessons you want them to learn... Do you want them to learn that women don't deserve economic or political power? Do you want them to learn that in order to be fully loved and happy and normal they need two parents? And do you want them to learn that non-traditional families are downright dangerous to our society? (Maybe you do, in which case why are you reading our blog in the first place?)

And we're not necessarily saying that you shouldn't see this movie (although it seems like no one else is, phew)... Maybe the kids are begging to see it? Maybe you're really into CGI? Maybe you want to give it a chance? Fine, go for it. But go into it knowing what messages your kids might be getting... and please, have a conversation with your kids about why those messages are wrong.


Yandie, Goddess of Pickles. said...

Duly noted. I'm not a fan of movies theatres anyway, but this will be one I'll definitely skip.

Sydnee said...

Wow, I had no idea. It looked like crap the moment I saw the trailer, but now I have a reason to hate it even more.

Anonymous said...

Figures, some studio execs worked out that the rich white guys who sign their exorbitant pay-checks, also bankroll the likes of the neo-cons and tea-baggers... so being at sucking-up to the boss, this is what we get. A right-wing family movie...

Anonymous said...

oh god this sounds terrible. but then again, it's disney. I shouldn't be surprised.

Anonymous said...

I am thrilled that this movie has been ripped apart in the blogs I read and apparently bombed at the box office. I picked up on the ridic sexism just by the title and I am just relieved that it wasn't just me. I had no idea of the anti-non-traditional-family message as well. I am so glad I have the option of never, ever seeing this movie.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that the movie isn't making money. I could tell from the title and the trailers that Mars Needs Moms would be sexist, but the movie is worse than I thought it would be.

I found an article on yahoo that said one of the possible reasons the movie failed is because it has mom in the title. It couldn't possibly be that the movie is just that bad.

"The title also was problematic, specifically, the use of the word 'mom,' which might have been a turn-off for boys.

'The title shouldn't have been 'Mars Needs Moms,' but 'Boys Need Not Come,' one studio exec joked.

Those same boys might have instead opted to see Sony's sci-fi action pic 'Battle: Los Angeles,' according to another box office observer. 'Mars' skewed slightly female."


Marty said...

Hey, Martin R. "Vargo" Schneider here. You made an important point that I neglected in my review, the fact that the film is incredibly anti-feminist. (Today someone asked me if the feminist leader looked like Hillary Clinton, and I can totally see it.) I was so blindsided by how offended I was for one reason that I forgot to be offended for a whole different reason! I'm a firm believer that we need to pay close attention to the messages in children's entertainment, and you absolutely nailed it.
I'm glad to see our little review corner getting some positive attention, as we're often overlooked for being on a comedy site. Thanks for the shout-out, and I'll be reading your blog in the future.
Also, I guarantee I wasn't exaggerating about the level of self-awareness in this film. It knows exactly what it's doing, trust me. I was mad that no one else in the critic's community was talking about it, but seeing as the film is on its way to being one of the biggest financial failures of all time, apparently NOT talking about it worked out.

(PS: If it makes you feel better, one of the other places I found this article re-blogged was on a Tumblr belonging to a 14-year old girl. Gave me hope.)

Marty said...

Also, because I do love Disney, I want to jump in and defend them here. This movie is not actually made by Disney. It's made by a side studio called Image Movers Digital which Disney owns that they really don't handle creative control over. (Or at least they didn't, I'm guessing that'll change soon.) Disney just slaps their name on it and distributes the film.
Given the fact that they barely advertised this movie at all, and released it in the time when people see movies the least, I'm willing to give Disney the benefit of the doubt here, and say that Disney realized what was going on and just threw this movie out there to see what little they could recoup of the $175 Mill they sunk into it.
I'd alsolike to point out that Disney has since closed the studio that made this film down. In fact, they announced they were closing it down on THE SAME DAY as the movie was released. I think that's about as close as we'll ever get to a media giant like Disney "Doing the right thing."

Anonymous said...

The movie may have messages you don't like, but that does not mean you, or your lemming-like PC notions are correct in any way.


Marty - Thanks for the comments and the info about Disney. We're glad you liked our post and thank you for raising awareness about the crappy messages in the movie with your review.

Anonymous (@5:44) - Thanks so much for your comment. We're seeing the light, shutting down our website, getting purity rings, joining the tea party, etc. You're a true hero.

Dominique said...

The title alone was enough to put me off. In fact, it was enough to make me warn everyone off. But you're doing a perfect job of this. Thank you for the post.

Anonymous said...

First time I heard of this film I thought that they'd ripped off the plot from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (MST3K classic: the martian children are depressed so a group of their parents go to Earth and kidnap Santa). From your review I think the Santa version sounds better....

Jezebel said...

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians absolutely is a classic and far superior to this crappy movie. (And I love that our comments section just produced an MST3K reference.)

Anonymous said...

Strangely enough, am I the only one who thinks this movie is sexist to men? It explicitly propagates the message that humanity doesn't need men, that literally, all we're good for is our sperm. How many men are there in the movie? 2, one being the absent father and the other being a disturbed psycho-man-child. The martian males are all portrayed as savage monkeys who are utterly hopeless unless women extend their intelligence and grace to tame them! I'm not one to criticize single parents, but from an ex-child's point of view being raised in a divorced household, I can personally say that I would have given anything to have a two parent family... so while single parents ARE fully capable of raising kids on their own, my personal opinion is that most kids prefer the more the alternative (2 parents. Genders don't really matter)

Anonymous said...

I'm beginning to think Disney is the worst of the worst. When I saw the trailer, I recognized the sexism and decided to pass on it.

Anonymous said...

Martin R. "Vargo" Schneider seems to be a "shock jock" sort of reviewer. His review is hyper-opinionated, and filled with disgusting language and bathroom metaphors. I'm a bit dissappointed that the author of this piece would base her review on Schneider's filth rather than watching the movie for herself and forming her own thoughts on the film.

The moral of the story is simply that moms should be valued and respected. Milo has an argument with his mother and suggests that life would be better without her around. But when his mother is abducted by martians, he stows away on the Martian spaceship and attempts to rescue her, learning the hard way how important his mother is to him.

Regarding the Martian civilization, it is presented as a dystopia where female children are raised by robots to be mindlessly obedient to the established social order, and male children are simply discarded and are raised by "wild" males who are forced to scavenge for survival in the landfill below the city. During the movie, a rebellious female discovers that children in the past where raised by families, and eventually overthrows the Martian leader. In the end, a group of Martian males and one female are shown changing the diapers of Martian infants. The overall message seems to be that families are better for raising children than robots.

Gribble, the man who came to Mars as a boy when his mother was abducted, does not mention his father at all, suggesting that his mother may have been a single parent. Gribble is presented as being a bit boyish and immature in the beginning of the film, but grows up over the course of the story and becomes heroic by the end. I think anyone accusing this film of misandry or misogyny probably is trying to read too much into the film. Overall, I thought it was a pretty good story.

Anonymous said...

In my above post, I referred to Schneider's review as "filth." My apologies for using such rude language! By eliminating the word "filth," the sentence still retains its meaning, but in a more polite way. :)

Anonymous said...

Our blog was not based solely on one source. There have been numerous reviews focusing on these aspects of the movie.

In the time since this blog was written, we did see the film, and we believe that it is just as bad as suggested. The intended "moral" of the story may be that moms should be valued and respected, but the MESSAGE that kids will receive is something quite different.

megan said...

Okay, I actually started to write a comment, which then got WAY too long, and then turned into a blog post. ;) http://funkindeepfreeze.com/2012/01/07/could-mars-need-two-moms

Basically, I gotcha on the sexist thing, I gotcha on the shit-tastic piece of crap. BUT I did find something positive in the film which was that if you notice when they talk about families they just say "parents." Not "mom and dad" or use any kind of same-sex couple wording. Even the photo they used to illustrate "families" seemed rather gender-neutral, which I found refreshing. (The one shining light in an otherwise, total waste of time.)

Anyway, if you want more of an explanation with a photo to boot, check out the link I posted, if not that's cool too! Just felt like dialoging. ;)

Anonymous said...

Don't make a review of something you have no idea about.How dare you spit on a movie you haven't seen?

First watch the movie,and then talk about it.
There wasn't anything saying women should not be leaders or politicians.This movie actualy ended with women and men uniting after the evil old bitch gets arrested.
If you can describe an idea about parents parenting instead of robots fulfiling this role to children other than showing them a drawing or a picture with a child and 2 parents, then please enlighten me.

And what the hell..Are you saying this movie is against same sex marriage?It looks like you are some crazy homosexual trying to convince heterosexuals about your superiority and you see a threat in everything that is,among the majority of society considered normal.Saying things like "gay marriage may actually be better for kids" is unacceptable,just as much as saying that gay partners can't take care of children.

Anonymous said...

1. Repeat of my last comment:

Our blog was not based solely on one source. There have been numerous reviews focusing on these aspects of the movie.

In the time since this blog was written, we did see the film, and we believe that it is just as bad as suggested.

2. As for the "gay marriage may actually be better for kids" comment, the actual line you are referring to you was this:

A lot of experts have stated that not only do the children of same-sex couples grow up just as well developed as other kids, but gay marriage may actually be better for kids.

That's not our idea that we made up, but there has been evidence to suggest that same-sex parents might be better for children. The theories are that gay parents tend to be more motivated, more committed and more involved because they more often chose to be parents (while there's a 50% "accidental pregnancy" rate among heterosexuals). There is also evidence to suggest that children of same-sex couples are more tolerant, more open-minded, more empathetic and less likely to be held back by outdated gender stereotypes.


That's not to say that all children of gay parents will do better than all children of straight parents. It's just a theory based on averages. (Just as it's not fair to say that all children from two-parent households will do better than all children from single-parent households.)

There may be evidence that might suggest that same-sex parents are better for children, but as far as we know, there isn't anyone out there making the claim that children need to be raised by single parents or same-sex parents or grandparents or any other non-traditional family in order to succeed. But there are a lot of politicians and government agencies that are making the argument that kids need two heterosexual married couples in order to succeed even though the research doesn't support that claim!

And no, I'm not "some crazy homosexual" - not that it's your business - but I am a single parent, another form of "family" that is dismissed as inadequate in the film.

Anonymous said...

You people have a serious problem if you don't appreciate traditional families! How DARE you belittle families like the one I was raised in! I was raised by my Mom and Dad, and I wouldn't have it any other way! That's right! I call my parents "Mom and Dad!" Do you think I'm hateful and homophobic for calling them that? Well, let me tell you something! If it wasn't for Moms and Dads, the world would be completely devoid of people! What do you heterophobes have against men and women marrying each other and having children together? Do you not realize that it takes a man and a woman to conceive a child? Two people of the same sex cannot do that! Do you want to see traditional families dwindle out? I happen to love my Mom and Dad! I am honored to be their daughter! And nothing you people say to me will ever change that!

Anonymous said...

Where did anyone say we had a problem with "traditional" families? We just disagree with the bigots who have a problem with non-traditional families. I was raised by heterosexual parents and I am a heterosexual parent. So I don't know where you people are getting that idea that we're heterophobes or against men and women marrying each other. Get a grip.

I don't care if traditional families dwindle out, because I don't think that's the only valid family. But that doesn't mean I want it to happen. I just want same-sex couples (and single parents) to have the same rights and respect as anyone else.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Lilith, (and anyone else I may have offended), I apologize for my outburst. But I have to be honest here. I did read some things by you and some of the other people who commented on this blog, and those comments did sound heterophobic to me, whether they were intended to be, or not. Some of the people who commented said that children who were raised by same-sex couples are better off than children who were raised by their biological parents. I happen to disagree with that. Also, Lilith, that comment you made about not caring if traditional families dwindle out is, whether you think so or not, heterophobic. Believe it or not, the world needs traditional families. As I said before, I would not change a thing about the kind of family I come from. I do appreciate knowing that you yourself came from a traditional family and are raising your own children the same way. I would think that that fact alone, would make you appreciate traditional families more, and not want them to dwindle out.

If anybody here thinks I'm a horrible person, judging by what I've been saying, think again. People know me as a kind and loving person. I would never intentionally upset anybody, but to be honest, I do have a temper. The times we're living in are difficult, because there is so much hatred in the world. Look, I don't hate people who live alternative lifestyles. I love everybody. I just hate alternative lifestyles, themselves. I'm a devout Christian, and I believe that God created two different sexes for a purpose. Let's face it, God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. If God had intended for two people of the same sex to marry each other, He would not have created Adam and Eve in the first place. But I know you people believe otherwise, and I can't change your minds. I pray that God will open your eyes to the truth one day. I hope you all will not think badly of me and my beliefs, and I do hope you will forgive me for my outburst the last time I posted. This will be my final post on this blog, and I will not be coming back here to read it, so let's call a truce, okay? 'Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Oh geez. Okay...

First of all, I call bullshit on this whole "heterophobic" thing. The U.S. is extremely heterosexist and homophobic. If someone who feels that all people deserve the same rights and respect happen to fight against that homophobic and heterosexism it doesn't make them heterophobic.

I think you are using the word incorrectly and you are just grossly misunderstanding everything that we here at EvilSlutopia are about. We are about equality for all. I also think you're very mistaken about what gay people are trying to accomplish when they fight for equal rights.

Also, pointing out that there is evidence to support that children of same-sex parents may actually be better off, isn't heterophobic either. It's just stating the findings of a study. I think I was more than clear (above) in fully explaining what that statement meant and what the findings of the studies were, so I don't feel as though I need to defend that yet again.

No, I do not care if "traditional" families "dwindle out" because if that is what is meant to be, that is what is meant to be. I don't think that society "needs" traditional families any more than any other families. The President of the United States was raised by a single mother and his grandmother - non-traditional family - and he turned out okay. Children need loving parents/guardians. Period. So no, I'm not overly concerned with the possibility that traditional marriage will "dwindle out".

But I don't actually think that's even a remote possibility. I do not for one second think that that will actually ever happen and I just think that's one of the arguments that anti-gay bigots use to stop same-sex couples from marrying. It is propaganda and offensive.

Do you really think that if gay couples are allowed to marry then heterosexual couples will cease to exist? Do you think that there is a limited number of marriages and families that the U.S. is allowed to perform and that gay couples are stealing all the good spots? LOL.

Straight people will continue to be straight, even if gay people are given equal rights, so what are you so scared about? You will still have the same chance to raise your children the same way you've always wanted to so get over this fear-mongering misinformation and follow Jesus's teachings about love and tolerance. You can hate the "alternative lifestyles" as much as you want, but keep it to yourself unless you want to come off as a hateful person... because not everyone shares your religious beliefs and your values.

To quote Ellen: "I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated, and helping those in need. To me those are traditional values."

Anonymous said...

first i absolutely love your blog. But i just have to get this off my chest about this movie. I love this movie and i'm also a habitual glass is half full kind of person. Now ill tell you why i like this movie. First i dont think it's against different types of families because of that fat adult dude getting with the hippe alien. thats seems pretty different to me. also all the females didn't seem bad to me just really sad and repressed living under the that dictator bitch. the aliens did remind me of africans yes but being a half glass full kind of person that just made them cooler to me. And well honestly i guess your right about the impression from the women cut i thought the movie portrayed the men as better parents. Though i didn't understand why family had to be one man and one woman since the aliens pop out of the ground like potatoes and aren't born. guess your right about that to but i just dont think of that kind of thing since im not a hateful person.

Randy said...

I'm gay, and I just saw the film. There's nothing homophobic or sexist about it (indeed it's an ANTI-sexist film). I was even told there was an anti-trans song in the film, but unless Freddie Mercury was anti-trans, I missed it. Nowhere in the film does it say you need a mother and father, or even two parents. Nowhere. Instead, they talk about "parents", "families", and that "love thing". You have to be heartless not to love this film, and stupid not to see it just because someone had a political agenda.

The Rational Sociopath said...

I watched this movie just an hour ago and I have to say it was a fun movie. My mother was complaining the movie was a tear jerker and the five-year-old was upset when Milo's mom couldn't breath. It was a great emotional movie. I didn't think the plot was about anti anything other than "anti 1 over the other". It be looked at two ways: 1. The evil lady took over the planet because her husband was a douchebag. or 2. Family should always love and care for each other. Someone above mentioned how it says "parents" and the image they discover looked more like 2 women rather than gender neutral but I think that's more because the martians are simply that, martians. We have to remember these are aliens we're looking at here. I'm against so called "homophobia" but I don't think this was anything other than a story to be told. Just because something is about a family of man+woman+child doesn't mean it's anti-gay! So now if someone makes a movie about having a gay family and having to rescue one it's going to be anti-hetero? Come on! It's like how people get all up in arms about different races being put in different monetary classes. In real life it's bound to happen sometime. There are 7 billion people on the planet there HAS to be straight couples, gay couples, left couples, and upside down couples. Let's just save the death to the homophobic corporations stuff for chic-fil-a and what not.