(Mostly about motherhood.)
How to Train Your Dragon 2 was funny, smart, touching, and all sorts of amazing and magical and everything an animated movie for all ages should be. But this isn’t a review, this is about the newest HBIC in town and quite possibly my new hero, Valka. Spoilery stuff ahead.
Valka is a bad-ass dragon rider who (RIDES DRAGONS STANDING UP HOW FUCKING AWESOME IS THAT) understands dragons so well she might as well be one. She also happens to be Hiccup’s supposedly dead mother.
I’ve read a lot of HOW DARE SHE ABANDON HER SON FOR ALMOST 20 YEARS hate, and how she’s just the latest of a long list of female characters who are strong, amazing, and interesting but useless. And maybe that’s true (Not really.), but she’s relevant to me.
I’m very vocal about my non-interest in becoming a mother. Or rather, I’ve had to be vocal because once I got into my late twenties, the stream of when-are-you-settling-down-and-giving-your-mother-a-grandchild questions never just seem to end. When I was in grade school, I thought I would change my mind eventually as I got older but I’m almost 30 and I still have no maternal instinct whatsoever.
Maybe someday I’ll get that urge when I’m menopausing and my ovaries are making a last-ditch attempt to pro-create, and maybe I won’t.
And that’s okay.
I think a lot of my female friends and relatives take it against them, but my saying no isn’t a critique of women everywhere who are/ plan to be moms. I see motherhood as a choice, and it’s a choice I don’t see myself making anytime soon, if ever. Going back to Valka, here is a woman who chose to live among dragons to save them instead of going back to an infant son and a husband she loves. I’m not saying abandonment is right, I’m just saying I appreciate that for the first time, an animated film acknowledges that not all women are innately maternal. A great article on the Daily Dot has articulated this much more eloquently than I ever will:
In absolutely every other Hollywood version of the HTTYD 2 narrative, Hiccup’s discovery of his mother’s two-decade-long absence would have resulted in an explicit shaming of her choices and a prolonged “how could you abandon me?” confrontation that would probably have ended with her breaking down in tears and Hiccup’s eventual acceptance and forgiveness of her inexplicable absence all this time. Instead, Hiccup instantly and immediately recognized that his mom’s choices were her own choices, and that they were obviously valuable and important. At no point did the narrative shame Valka for rejecting her role as a mother and a housewife.
– “Why ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ is a radical feminist triumph“, By Aja Romano
So thanks, Dreamworks.
This post was brought to you by post-recent birthday existentialism.