How I Accidentally Let My Son Watch The Most Anti-Feminist Movie EVER

Headline: The Homicidal Feminist Enjoys A Quiet Moment Of Thought, Plotting.

Hey, did you know that all feminists are man-hating, homicidal witches who are ceaselessly plotting to destroy motherhood?

Good ole Hollywood. Keeping us up-to-date. Whatever would we do without them?

Last weekend, my oldest had a basketball practice and my middle child had a sleepover and I promised Leo he could watch a movie. So we go through the Netflix list (by the way: Dear Netflix, GET SOME BETTER KID MOVIES! Honestly.) and he says MARS NEEDS MOMS MARS NEEDS MOMS, and I was like, “Sure kid, knock yourself out. I have to clean the kitchen and mop the floor and vacuum the rug and fold the laundry, but I’ll watch the end of it with you.”

And so it was agreed.

And thus did he and I blithely skip down the Primrose Path of Ignorance into the Slimy Ooze of…..whatever the hell that movie was. And good god. Let me tell you. It was a stinker.

And there was my son, watching a wrinkly old prune of an in-charge lady-alien (because power and authority are, apparently, murder on the skin, and feminism will ultimately make us ugly. Hollywood has spoken. WHY WOULD THEY LIE?) gazing down at an unsuspecting mother, all the while plotting to download her brain into her baby-raising robots, and then incinerate her body into ashes, leaving her broccoli-hating son bereft and alone. Observe:

SPOILER: The pretty one turns good in the end!

There they gaze from their Marsy heights, plotting. Oh, look, they say. A mother who makes her son take out the trash and bosses him around. SHE’S PERFECT.

The kid, seeing his mother taken into a scary spaceship, does what any self-respecting kid does: He hops on and prepares himself for interstellar hijinks and a little alien ass-kicking. Because, of course.

What he discovers when he gets there is that Mars has been TYRANNIZED BY LADIES for some time now, and as a result, it is a cold, heartless, joyless place. There is no color. The babies are raised by robots. And everything is harped on endlessly by the prune-faced bossylady dictator alien.

Because that’s what feminists are, right? Prune-faced bossyladies. Thanks for clarifying, Hollywood.

During the kid’s (I guess his name is Milo, and he was originally going to be voiced by Seth Green, until some studio exec realized that having a grown man play the voice of a nine year old boy is 1. Super Creepy, and 2. the final atom in a supernova that turns the whole thing into a universe-sucking black hole) various adventures adventures in soul-less Mars, evading the aliens that want to kill him –

-oh, because, in addition to hating men and wanting to destroy motherhood, feminists also enjoy killing children. Are you keeping up? Good, because Hollywood is really covering a lot of ground here. –

Milo (god, I hate using that name, because I’ve never met a Milo that I didn’t like, and it pains me that their name is now associated with this god-awful movie) escapes into an endless tunnel that’s actually the trash chute (because sci-fi ALWAYS has kick-ass trash chutes) and discovers where all the Martian men are.

In the trash heap. (Get it? SYMBOLISM! Thanks, Hollywood!)



And along the way, Milo discovers that he really loves his mom and stuff, and she wasn’t so bad for making him eat his broccoli and take out the trash, and all the sexless, joyless Martian ladies are all AWWWWWWWW.

And then he discovers that the bossylady has been lying to the populace this whole time, telling them that Martians have always been raised by robots programmed with the downloaded brains of Earthling mothers (Really?) and that long ago Martians had real families too

(and by “real” we mean “nuclear families.” Mom plus dad. None of that new-agey business.)

(Also: GENDER BINARY, PEOPLE. Because Hollywood knows – it KNOWS!)


And then the Martian ladies are all giving googly eyes to the trash-heap-living Rasta Dads that they’ve imprisoned all these years, and they shun the prune-faced dictator lady calling her “The Evil One” (I swear to god, I am not making this up) and then Milo saves his mom and this other dude who has been living secretly on Mars ever since he was ten and his mom had been taken by the Martians and incinerated right in front of him (My god people! This is a CHILDREN’S MOVIE!) decides he’s in love with one of his Martian lady tormentors, and he decides to stay, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Needless to say, when I went back upstairs after all of my stereotypically mom-ish chores, poor Leo was weeping uncontrollably, then makes a flying leap across the room into my arms and clutches my shoulder and drenches my shirt with his tears, and says, “Mom, I will never let that ugly lady burn you up, never never never never never.”

So, of course, I am the worst mother alive.

Now, most of you have probably already heard about how horrible this movie is and have steered clear, but on the off-chance that any of you, like me, have been living under a damn rock, then for the LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD AND PURE AND HOLY stay away from this awful, awful movie.

And, while you’re at it, donate some money to NOW or the Girl Scouts or whatever.


(and screw Hollywood)

P.S. Mars Needs Moms originally was a picture book by Berkeley Breathed, and it is fantastic. Totally worth a purchase. And here is his visual indicator of what he thought of the turkey of a movie they made of his completely charming and whimsical book:

56 thoughts on “How I Accidentally Let My Son Watch The Most Anti-Feminist Movie EVER

  1. I saw a snippet of it. It was garbage. But the book is very cool and I heave a sigh of relief for that and The Phantom Tollbooth for saving my son Milo from total negative name associations.

    • And the book was SO SO good! How could they take something that visually whimsical and charming and so full of heart and make it a lady-hating slog through shadow of Uncanny Valley? Poor choices from beginning to end!

  2. Total trash. Yet in the course of 60 minutes of prime time viewing last Wednesday my 8 yr old learned about menstruation and condoms (Suburgatory) as well as ‘the f-word’ from a toddler (Modern Family). Now I feel the smotherly urge to prescreen everything that comes into the house!

    • Ugh! I know what you mean! We don’t even get regular television anymore since our t.v. is old and we could never get the digital receiver to work properly, so it’s Netflix or nothing. Glancing through the user comments is usually helpful, I’ve found, but this time I didn’t do it! Curses!

  3. Yeah, I let my kids watch it two weeks ago. I almost smacked the tv when the little boy’s mom got burned to a non-existent crisp. It was horrible. And yes, I let them watch the rest of it. They begged. I did NOT like that movie. At all. Maybe not for all the reasons you didn’t… but still didn’t like it!

    • OH GOD THAT SCENE! So unnecessary!

      And really, the unsettling animation is reason enough to avoid the movie. Why didn’t they use the lovely illustrations from the original book? Why cast aside whimsical, delightful aliens and humans to cold-skinned ambulatory mannequins that you want to screech OH GOD KILL IT WITH FIRE!!!! Honestly!

  4. So if hollywood shows women hot that’s objectification, if they portray them as ugly you start ranting like this, *facepalm*

  5. This “article” is the single biggest piece of shit in the internet and I’ve seen my part of the dark side of the internet too.
    For the love of God, it was just Martians. NOT an symbolism for feminists. Feminists do need to get a life.

      • Okay, that was low. Just watch the movie again without being a fucking conspiracy theorist alright? Dont be all paranoid every man is plotting your downfall. Its a kids movie ffs.

        • No, not harsh. Wildly inappropriate. I’m thinking that perhaps you didn’t take the time to see what kind of blog this *is* before deciding to come over here and be The Guy Who Talks About Blowjobs On A Children’s Literature Blog. Which is what you are now. You are That Guy forever. It sucks, I know, but frankly, you did bring this on yourself.

          So, let me clarify things for you. No one has ever made a reference to blowjobs on this blog (so curious that you would do so on a kidlit blog). You are the first one. So, I’m a little at a loss at how to respond to you. Suffice to say this: I’m a children’s author and a mother. I write blog posts about books and the writing process and the vagarious curiosities that find their way into my stories and children’s literature and children’s movies and *my kids*. And you came by and spouted a bunch of swear words and talked about blowjobs. Interesting. Nice job being That Guy.

          This is what I know. The movie, MARS NEEDS MOMS is an awful movie for a lot of reasons – and I’m not alone in thinking this. The author of the book – Berkely Breathed, also the author of Bloom County and Bill the Cat, and other beloved bits of whimsey and beloved of my heart – also hated the movie, for much of the same reasons I described: 1. the gross, anti-feminist interpretation of the source material, 2. the cold uncanny-valley-type animation which pretty much always sucks, and 3. the fact that they had a scene in which a CHILD witness his mother being incinerated. Now, let that last bit sink in for a moment. (That scene made my three kids burst into tears, by the way). Because, really, I agree with you. This is a children’s movie, based on a beloved children’s book. So why the hell put in a bunch of anti-feminist, gender-restrictive BS that wasn’t in the source material? Why put in scenes of violence against mothers that wasn’t in the source material? Why take a book with delightful, whimsical illustrations, and turn it into a cold, dead thing? I have no idea.

          Now, maybe you love that movie. Maybe you worked on it. Maybe a lot of things. If you wrote a blog post (like a year ago, by the way. How much time DO you have on your hands, dear?) talking about how much you love that movie, I promise you that I will not – not ever – show up at your blog and swear at you, nor will I make inappropriate sexual comments. Why? Because it’s friggin’ inappropriate, and it’s your blog, and maybe your kids read it (as mine do with my blog – so thanks for providing what we in the parenting biz call A Teachable Moment). And in the end, it’s your dang blog. Say what you want.

          You are always welcome to come back here, and I welcome your comments, but I will ask you to please watch your language when you do so. The primary audience for my novels are children in second through sixth grades. And they read this blog. And, yanno, little ears.

          I hope you have a wonderful day.

          Yours very truly,
          Kelly Barnhill

          • Well it seems you are the one who is touchy !!! It’s funny someone disagrees with you and you make fun of him (‘might I suggest a snack and a nap’) and when he responds back to you by making fun of you, you get all touchy. Not all people agree with you and you have to learn that you might not be right and that if people do disagree with you and you patronize them, they will patronize you back (Instead of actually having an honest discussion with him you patronize him and when he does what you did back to you, you get all offended). Grow up, what are we in middle school?!

            • Children read this blog. It is inappropriate to talk about oral sex on a children’s literature blog. If you think that’s being touchy then we have VERY different points of view on what’s appropriate for children. And that’s okay. I promise that I won’t come to your blog and berate you for your point of view. Because that would be rude.

              • Super, super late to this, but to John and um, Arun, look at it this way. If you were writing a blog which, in it’s purpose, children would visit, how would you feel if someone tossed that phrase out in the comments? Kelly is totally in the right in this, both in the tone in the movie, and in how she is responding to you two. Frankly, just because it says “DISNEY” on it does not mean that they made good choices in how they wrote the script, or that they necessarily kept in mind the target audience!

          • Hahaha, were you actually planning to make me feel guilty over the internet? wow lol. I was looking for the movie when I saw this. This might be children blog but that doesnt mean children actually read it. If the children arent old enough to know what blowing is, dont worry, they have no idea what it means. I assure you lol, I didnt scar a kid psychologically by saying that.
            And its a children movie. There was no anti-feminist agenda. Its like, watching Toy Story and me saying because they never showed the dad, its about dads leaving their families and its against men. Get it? Its stupid.
            The movie is about a boy’s love for his mom. Take it that way. You dont have to be suspicious about us all men every second of your life, alright?

            • Good grief. I love men. And I loved the book, MARS NEEDS MOMS. Loved it to pieces. And no mothers were incinerated, which is always a plus. And even the book’s author called the movie an anti-feminist piece of trash. Are you fussing at him for it?

              I wrote this piece over a year ago (which begs the question: why are you here?) The whole purpose of this blog is to give teachers extra material to share with their students before I show up in their classrooms to talk about my books or the writing process or whatever. This is not a man-hating blog nor is it a suspicious blog. This is an I Love Everyone blog, and while it would take you all of five minutes to read through other posts to figure that out, something tells me that you won’t bother.

              Which means this blog is not for you. Move on.

              • One mom was killed and its against all women. Just never watch a war movie ever again in your life.
                And what I ever wanted to say was your theories are crazy. Give me a minute and I can come up with a theory about how this movie is linked with Holocaust.
                And if you cant take criticism, you can just take out the comment section right?
                Oh and my theory, the child was separated from his mom right? Remember who else did that? SS on Hitler’s commands. SEE!

              • Um, I did get on with my life. This is a REALLY OLD blog post. I moved on a year and a half ago. You’re the one trolling through ancient blog posts. Really, who does that? The internets are filled with new and shiny things. I get it that you only arrived here after googling “anti-feminist movies”, so you showed up with no context about this blog, or me, and you were looking for a fight. I’m not interested in fighting with you. Fighting is boring.

                As I said – incinerating mothers is not appropriate for a children’s movie. It just isn’t. Maybe, when you have children, you’ll think differently, and that’s your right. And maybe you will write a blog post about how much you love this movie (keeping in mind that every other reviewer on earth thought it was trash). Well that would be your right. And I would never go crashing into some old section of your blog just to make inappropriate comments and be rude. I promise.

                Mostly, sweetheart, I am feeling worried about you and sad for you. Most people don’t spend this long fussing over material on year-old blog posts. They just don’t. Now, this is my blog, and I will always respond to you, because that is the polite thing to do. If you showed up at my home, I would similarly offer you food and listen while you talked. It’s part of being polite. But the fact that you’re getting this upset – and then writing obtuse and frankly garbled comments about it in the comment section… well, I’m not gonna lie to you. It’s odd. It’s an odd thing to do. And I feel concerned about you – I really do. (Because, honestly – Hitler references? Really, dude? That’s a stretch. And saying that showing a child witnessing his parent incinerated – in a children’s movie – is remotely okay? I’m sorry. There is no one on earth that agrees with that – and if they are, for god’s sake keep them away from children, because that is frankly sick, and should likely be discussed with a licensed therapist.)

                Look. I’m not going to apologize for what I am. I’m a mother and I’m a feminist. My husband is a feminist. My dad and my brother and all of my male friends are all feminists. We believe in equality, and we reject the notion (as not so subtly portrayed in the movie) that feminists hate men or want to throw them in the dustbin of history. We don’t. We never did. And it makes me sad that someone tricked you into thinking that we do. I love all people – including you.

                I hope you have a wonderful day. And I hope you find something better to do with your time – go for a walk, read a book, kiss a girl, see a museum. Anything. You’ve got to find something else to do with your time.

                (And for real, don’t see this friggin’ movie. It’s awful. Check Rotten Tomatoes if you don’t believe me.)

          • Can I just say I love you? I would be in a spitting fit unable to see straight enough to type if someone had said this to me (heck, I’m pretty angry just seeing these months-old posts) and here you are, replying with razor-sharp, precision-aimed wit. Did these people even READ the blog, or THINK before typing up their little posts?!

              • From your response to Arun Kabilan above:
                “I wrote this piece over a year ago (which begs the question: why are you here?)….You’re the one trolling through ancient blog posts. Really, who does that? ”

                Speaking purely for myself, somebody who follows a link from Pharyngula and is still captivated an hour and a-half later despite all the shiny new stuff. Whether that’s due to your refreshingly honest and humorous writing style – a breath of fresh air in the increasingly vitriolic world of blogging – or witchcraft, I couldn’t say.

                I second Levin; your patience with the hard of understanding is a thing of wonder. I’m a patient man, but there are limits, and there’s only so much jaw-dropping obtuseness I can take before I have to make use of a darkened room and lots of hot, sweet tea.
                For what it’s worth, I think you’re doing the right thing by not deleting the so-stupid-they-burn comments, partly because to do so would be playing into their hands (or up to their agenda) but mainly because the vacuity of their arguments is highlighted perfectly by the contrasting intelligence, style, and wit of your responses.

                My eldest grandson is three-years-old, and I have a feeling I will be adding some of your books to the stash of Roald Dahls and Horrible Histories, etc. that I’ve already stock-piled to delight him, and his little brother in turn, when they are old enough to appreciate a well-told yarn that doesn’t patronise either the child, or the adult.

  6. Since when is being anti-feminism wrong?! Not all people agree with feminism and just because they don’t doesn’t mean they aren’t for equality or for everyone being treated equally. Now about this movie…I guess you looked into it too much and if they were in fact anti-feminism, so what?! How many movies out there are anti-male but I guess that doesn’t bug you at all. This is a kids movie and I’m sure kids won’t go out hating women because of whatever you saw in the movie.
    P.S. Are you the type of mom who teaches your son how to treat women and teach your daughter how to defend themselves against men?! If so, like so many feminist mothers say they do, then so much for equality. As if boys need to be taught how to take care of women yet girls just know how to treat boys.

    Stop trying to create something that isn’t there. If that is what you got from the movie, all I can say is you need to take a chill pill.

    From a mom who is fighting for EVERYONE’S rights. for my son included.

    • So….. you think it’s appropriate to show a child witnessing his mother being incinerated. In a children’s movie. Okay. I guess that’s your right. I disagree with you. And that’s mine.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Wow, you handled that unforeseen dose of bile with far greater grace and diplomacy than I would have. I hope some of your younger readers are also paying attention to the valuable lesson embedded in this entire exchange, unpleasant as it is.

    [Young Writers’ Panel Discussion: How To Handle Crazy In The Google Generation]

    Cheers from Oz, keep up the good work.

  8. It bothers me very much when people say that children don’t pick up bigotry– in any form– and therefore it doesn’t matter whether it is portrayed in children’s movies or tv. Kids learn social norms from the media we expose them to. The more subtle, the more insidious.

    Only someone extraordinarily uneducated would consider any story completely transparent. Movies are symbolism. Characters are archetypes. The problem with translation is that real people *aren’t* archetypes. The old, ugly, and vain women are not necessarily bad. They are just old, ugly, and vain. They still have thoughts and feelings.

    Very, very few people are out to cause harm in this world. The people who are determined to cause harm are ill. They either end up dead, in prison, or history books. For the most part, our enemies are doing the best they can to make the world good; they just disagree as to what that means and how to get there.

    • Exactly. There is a common complaint among anti-feminists that feminism, at its core, it simply an excuse to disempower men – throw them into the dustbin of history, as it were (and as the movie visually suggests). It’s mystifying to me. Since when is personal autonomy or equality a zero-sum game? What they’re missing is the promise of relationship. There cannot be relationship without equality. There just can’t.

      It is interesting to me, though, how symbolism affects Story. In the original Breathed text, the images are whimsical, charming and lovely, and the story itself is similarly lovely – an argument taken out of context, a bunch of aliens (much like the Lost Boys of Neverland) who just want a mother of their very own, and the boy who sets things right. By translating that story into the visual language of the fears of the anti-feminist, we arrive at something grotesque, frightening, and FOR SURE not for children.

      Hell, it’s not for anybody at all.

  9. “Because that’s what feminists are, right? Prune-faced bossy ladies.” Agreed. And because of them we have a country that hates their mothers and needs movies like this. Thanks for the review. I have a good movie to watch tonight.

    • Even if you detest feminists (and really? all of them? is equality that frightening to you?) I don’t think you’ll like the movie. No one did. It was universally panned. A mom-friend of mine (who is a gender-traditionalist and does not consider herself a feminist at all) walked out of the theater with her brood and demanded her money back. (and she got it, too. Apparently, a LOT of mothers complained.)

  10. Well there are always some pathetic guys who deliberately search for feminist topics on the internet just so they can write an insulting butt-hurt comment that completely misses the point. I’d just delete it.

  11. Pingback: On Feminism, Anti-Feminism, and the Things That Mystify Me | Kelly Barnhill

  12. Wow, I heard the adaptation was no good when it came out, so I never watched it, though I’ve been a fan of Breathed for a while. I had no idea it had taken this anti-feminist bent. It clashes so with the ethos of Bloom County and all his other work. What a travesty. I feel bad for Breathed.

    And for you, with this influx of very silly, very insecure men! Goodness, what a kerfuffle.

  13. My husband happened upon your blog (given one of the above comments, I’m guessing from Pharyngula where it was apparently mentioned recently), and I clicked over to this post because bad movies *suck* and I always want to beware of any travesties such as this, especially when I **love** children’s movies, they’re some of the best! I just had to take a moment to second all the above comments about your level of patience and tolerance for the utmost stupidity and drivel from sorry excuses for humans. The fact that you respond to them every time, without cursing and ripping out your hair, but in a calm and rational manner with the wit and intelligence they so startlingly lack… it’s frankly quite amazing. Kudos to you, Kelly Barnhill, keep up the excellent work!

    (PS, you’re not the only one apparently under a rock, I had never even heard of this movie until reading this post!)

  14. Pingback: To remove shadows and blocks » Butterflies and Wheels

  15. Another reader who found this nearly-two-year article thanks to commenters at the FreethoughtBlogs network. Like others have said, the way you handled the random internet hate-squad is an inspiration to us all. Add me to the list of those keeping an eye out for your books as our young son reaches reading age, too.

    I hadn’t realized that “Mars Needs Moms” was originally a book, and might need to take a look for that as well.

    And speaking of whimsey – have you seen the card game ‘Dixit’ by chance? It’s got beautiful, whimsical artwork and is about making creative associations with them. Your description of the original book reminded me of this one as an antidote to that hideous-looking movie.

  16. I took two of my 8-year-old students to see this film (I’m a tutor), and by Jove, it was so so so bad that we all agreed to leave before it was even half way through. I didn’t do any further research on the film because, honestly, it pains me just by thinking of this awful animation. So I didn’t know about the original book. Thank you for the information. I’ll go and have a look at the book now.

  17. Another late arrival, thanks to the link on your FP’d entry of 10 Dec 2013, and I’m glad I’m here. I’d also heard nothing but ill about MARS NEEDS WOMEN, but this does a great job of defining at least a half-dozen of the problems with it. I’ll do all I can to keep it and my son apart (and I’d also never heard a word about the Breathed connection, and will be seeking the book with glee).

    I was going to suggest just about anything by Studio Ghibli as a cure to having had contact with this thing, and despite some second-guessing I think I’m still on safe ground. Their fantasies frequently have a strong female protagonist, the more mature ones have some pretty complex characters, and “ugly” or “old” are not by necessity associated with villainy. Part of the second guessing comes from the a relatively high incidence of female villains, but they’re usually villains with reason for their actions (possibly the worst person in MONONOKE, for example, is doing what she does to provide employment to the disadvantaged).

    As to some of the oddly venomous responses above, I can only say that it’s not an inherent part of carrying a Y chromosome around; I can’t think of one man among those I count as friends that would do other than agree with you in this.

    • Indeed. Fortunately I know legions of AMAZING Y-chromome-havers. In all things, I think, the Good outnumber the Bad. I think it’s important that we remind ourselves of this.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  18. I think it’s a bit much to blame “Hollywood”.
    Blame Disney, or just those who approved the scripts, but all of Hollywood?
    Isn’t that like lumping all feminists together when one feminist says something you don’t agree with? Isn’t that what Rush Limbaugh does?
    There are feminists in Hollywood too. Not all of their movies are this bad. Some are actually good.

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