When you think of role models on film for children, what characters come to mind? Someone intelligent and independent? Someone a child can look up to and identify with? Someone who stands up in the face of adversity? We explore films safe for children that can shape their understanding of cinema in our column When Can I Watch That with My Kids?, but the concept was recently studied in an online poll.
A group of film fans in the U.K. have voted for the greatest film role model in cinema, and we really can't disagree with their pick. Rental and streaming website LoveFilm, children's charity Filmclub, and British TV network ITV hosted the poll, asking 1,000 school children who they looked up to most. Kids chose the brave and studious Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter film series, portrayed by Emma Watson. She won rank over Charlie Bucket (played by the now grown-up Freddie Highmore) from 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, directed by Tim Burton, with 19 and 16 percent of the votes respectively. The 1996 Roald Dahl adaptation Matilda (the title character played by Mara Wilson) received 15 percent of the votes. Home Alone's Kevin McCallister (Macauley Culkin), Karate Kid's Dre Parker (Jaden Smith), Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks) from Toy Story, and Chihiro Ogino (Rumi Hiiragi) in Spirited Away followed closely behind.
"Films can have a powerful influence on the way children behave and interact with people around them," Filmclub stated. "Characters that young people identify with tend to stay with them the longest, and positive behaviors can be learnt by watching the way that fictional characters handle certain situations on-screen."
What can we learn from all this? Children are inspired by characters that overcome the odds, have decent taste in movies when left to their own devices, and know that girls kick ass.