Now honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this film. On the one hand, I’m glad there is a film portraying how young women feel when their fathers aren’t around. And I really like that he shows the fathers how they make their daughters feel and I’m hoping the filmmaker tries to connect the father and daughter in the end. But what I do not like is a full minute of daughter’s crying, breaking completely down to get the point across. I think it is crazy exploitiative to have a film full of children crying and asking why their father doesn’t love them. And most, if not every, documentary of fatherlessness that I’ve seen uses this.
I am not saying that it’s not painful and that children don’t feel this way. I know they do because I used to feel that way. But there’s a fine line between showing a painful experience and exploiting it. I feel the same way about the documentary Dark Girls which only shows the most hurt of all darker women and portrays this idea that all dark women feel ugly and less than.
For fatherlessness documentaries, I agree that is important to show that it hurts children. I think it is also important to show that it doesn’t have to destroy them. Growing up without a father does not have to be a life sentence of pain, poverty or loneliness. Even if you don’t have a surrogate father to give you what you think a father should have given or taught you does not mean that you can’t have or learn certain things. Thus far in my interviews with adult women who have grown up without their fathers, there’s this profound sense of loss. This feeling that fathers hold a secret to love and to life and that they will never learn them because their father wasn’t there. And because they never learned it, they accept all kinds of grief in their lives because they believe they’ve missed out on some special gift, for lack of a better word, that only a father can give.
That’s not true. And that’s what I see in this film and it makes me sad. Yes, I think it is important. I will most likely support it financially and tell people to watch it. But I hope in the future, these types of documentaries will evolve and show that while it is painful, it is not the end of the world. You can grow up fatherless and be successful and happy and feel loved.