The Pursuit of Happyness

Will Smith's latest film has gained him plaudits and nominations for his role as a single parent. But Dwysan Edwards says we shouldn't forget that thousands of mothers go through the same experiences every day.

Dwysan Edwards, 1 February 2007

The 'Pursuit of Happiness' could well be the worst film I have ever seen; and if there is an ounce of feminism in any of the women who were in that audience they too should have joined me huffing and puffing at the gross overt sickly patriarchal American nonsense.

I happened to watch the film with two other female single parents; we are all in our early thirties. The film apparently is a true story and focuses on a character played by Will Smith of his rise from 'nothing' to a multi-millionaire. He lived the American Dream. His wife is hard working but un-caring and abandons her son for New York; the boy is left wide-eyed with tears just about to fall, asking his dad 'did mom leave because of me?'.

his wife is hard working but un-caring and abandons her son for New York

Will Smith then embarks on a six-month unpaid internship to become a stockbroker, because of this he becomes homeless and he and his son are forced to queue with the other homeless people (most of which were portrayed as scruffy with mental health issues – shouting abuse, Will was in a suit), occasionally father and son even sleep in the underground toilets.

It highlighted his struggle to rush to work, to get a good job done, to study and then to run as fast as he could all the way to the nursery to pick his son up. Does this ring any bells with anyone?

This is how most mothers live their day to day lives! With the exception that most women would never take on un-paid work for six months which would then leave their son homeless - they'd be working two jobs! Mainly because Social Services would be knocking on their toilet door and taking their children into care for neglect and the woman would making the headlines as a 'reckless mother'.

This is how most mothers live their day to day lives

The line in the film which will have all the pro-father groups cheering and throwing a party was when Will and his son turn up at a women's refuge and are told 'I'm sorry we only take women and children' and he is left to roam the streets.

Of course the film has a happy ending, Will Smith gets the position of Stockbroker, he goes on to run his own multi-million company. He lived the American Dream. If you work hard enough, it all pays off. All those other people in the queue at the homeless shelter obviously hadn't worked hard enough, if only someone had told them!

I implore you to take a look at the film and make up your own minds. However, as a feminist single-parent who works with survivors of domestic abuse on a day to day basis where women are forced to leave their homes and become homeless, where children on a daily basis leave all their friends behind, I found it difficult to empathise with one story about a mans struggle when thousands of women face these issues every day.

About the author

Dwysan Edwards

Dwysan Edwards is 35, a single mother, and lives in North Wales.

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