Mother's Day (2010), Not So Cute Babies and Fascist Family Values
When Mother Koffin arrives, the crazed home invasion dimension of the film shifts, from manic to something more deliberate as the Mother takes control. Up until the mother arrives the boys have clear lines of authority. The older brother is in charge, and the younger siblings follow his lead. Left alone to guard the hostages in the basement the younger brother seeks to establish his authority to the captives by though violence that directly goes against his older brother's orders. It is as if the only way to demonstrate authority is to break the rules. When the mother arrives on the scene there is a surreal scene where she scolds her child for acting too brutishly.
Mother: You didn't do anything wrong
Addley: Didn't do anything wrong?
Mother: No you did what had to be done. You did it for the family.
Addley: Momma, how come you didn't tell us that you lost the house?
Mother: I tried but your brother Ike made it impossible. He made a very bad mistake.
Addley: Yeah, he does that.
Mother: Addley, Ike told me you struck one of them downstairs and it was a girl
Addley: I was scared. You always said... you told me... bark loud show them who is boss...
Mother: No. I said don't bark. Wait and then bite.
Addely: I'm sorry
Mother: And what else did I teach you?
Addley: Don't ever strike a woman. (Punctuated by mother slapping the guy.) (Addely starts crying) Hit me again. (Mother's Day 2010)
The other juxtaposition that articulates the fascist binary is the Mother's reverence towards all things motherly and her ability to shift gears and throw the ideology of motherhood under the bus. While the Mother is rifling through the Sohapi's home looking for the money that they stole from her, she comes across a box filled with photos and photographs of the Sohapi's dead child. The child was run over by a car. On one side of her motherhood is her ability to empathize to the point of tears of the loss of a child (something she deeply values) yet on the other hand, uses the memory of the child's death (by burning the box of photographs) in order to motivate Mr. Sohapi to divulge the location of the stolen money. The Mother's flip flopping between drastically different sides of an ethical universe. This is a symptomatic her ultimate indecision and lack of clarity towards an ultimate ideological path. Arendt argues
The trouble with Eichmann (an evil nazi) was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together.The other mother in this film, is Beth Sohapi. She also happens to be the only other (female) character that has a sense of who she is. From the get go she sells out of her friends in order to gain her safety. First by outing the friend in the basement who is a doctor to come to the help of the wounded Koffin child. Later she sells out her friend who owns the dry cleaning business. In we have another form of fascism; American individualism. Where the Mother place her family on the same level that Nazi's place their nation, Beth places herself as a priority above others. One might argue that Beth is working out of a kind of Jack Bauer like survival of the fittest ethics, but ultimately Beth's actions turn out to be rooted in capitalistic motivations rather than self-preservation or maternal instinct. Following the fascist binary on one side we have the Beth who acts out of self-preservation and on the other we find that self-preservation is fundamentally rooted in fiscal gain.
― Hannah Arendt