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How Does the Movie Coraline Reinforce and/or Create Stereotypes About the Family?


Coraline is a captivating film about a heroine’s journey towards finding and accepting her family and roots. The animated film is an adaptation of a children’s novella by Neil Gaiman, which brings the characters to life in an exciting way. The movie introduces the main character, Coraline Jones, who is dissatisfied with her boring family as her parents ignore her, fail to give her the attention she needs, and are immersed in their work. In the midst of exploring the new family home, Coraline finds a small door that takes her into an alternate reality. This alternative family is the exact opposite of her reality, as she finds loving parents, tasty food, and fun neighbors and friends. However, the “good” family is ready to take in Coraline if she agrees to stay in this alternate reality forever and accept her eyes to be buttoned. Upon refusing this request, Coraline soon discovers that things are not as they seem and that no good comes without a price. Coraline ventures on a terrifying journey to escape this alternate life and return to her family, ultimately accepting and appreciating her real life and realizing that family is more important than material and unrealistic things.


One thing that comes out clearly is the mismatch between the film’s content and genre with the target audience. Coraline is a children’s movie that targets young ones. However, it depicts a unique family with controversial visual cues that correlate more to a horror genre than the innocence of children. The film depicts Coraline’s isolation and boredom in a horrifying and disturbing way and yet forces her to face her situation by creating a dual family with two sets of parents and neighbors with different personalities and motives. Moreover, the entire movie makes one feel eerily and gloomy due to the Victorian mansion with muted colors that are perfect for housing ghosts and monstrous people. Other creepy elements of the movie are the underground well, the decayed garden with poison oak, and the prowling black cat, which can make the audience uneasy (Smith). Still, the most horrifying way is the way Coraline’s family is depicted; parents are seen as bad and irresponsible when they have to work and have little time to spend with their children.

Mass Media Portrayal and Family Stereotype

In most cases, the media depicts family and gender stereotypes in society, with traditional connotations taking the norm. Coraline plays along with this representation by showcasing several examples of family stereotyping. For example, the film shows parents who are tired, busy, and with no social life. Coraline parents have deadlines to meet to provide for the family, hence the lack of socialization and interaction with neighbors and even with one another. This example reinforces the familial stereotype of parenthood being a busy and distracted life. In the alternate family, the movie supports the gender aspect of family stereotyping, where the “mother” does the house chores. At the same time, the father performs menial jobs, such as gardening and playing the piano. As such, the conflict sociological perspective is applicable to this family since Coraline’s birth parents do not have adequate resources and have to work hard to earn a livelihood. Indeed, there is a conflict between either focusing on work or being attentive to their daughter, Coraline, and an attempt to keep a balance of both perspectives is evident. This example is a stereotype showcased in the film since the audience is made to believe that families have to struggle to balance work and social life. In the process, the parents and children become stressed, leading to feelings of remorse and dissatisfaction. While the movie showcases a break from societal norms when the birth parents have opposite duties, such as the father cooking, a significant part reinforces many family stereotypes, thereby influencing the audience to accept them as the norm.

Work Cited

Smith, Christian. “The Terrors of Family Ties in ‘Coraline'”. FSR, 11 April 2019,


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