There's hope for the next generation—or, at least, for the next generation of film lovers. In a recent survey conducted by Filmclub (a British children's charity) and video streaming service/DVD rental company LoveFilm UK, middle schoolers voted Hermione Granger as their favourite film role model. The over-achieving Hogwarts student from the Harry Potter franchise beat out three Roald Dahl protagonists (Charlie Bucket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and James from James and the Giant Peach), Toy Story's Woody, and Kevin McCallister. That's your cue to breathe a giant sigh of relief: British children do not, above all, idolize the sadist-in-training from the Home Alone movies. Well—the majority of them don't, anyway. Kevin is revered by a manageable 13% of the 1000 kids that were surveyed.
Jaden Smith's turn as Dre Parker in the reboot of the Karate Kid franchise landed at fifth place on the list (losing out to Macauley Culkin despite the fact that Dre fights his battles without the aid of swinging paint cans and buckets of Micro Machines). Lucy from The Chronicles of Narnia, Chihiro Ogino from Spirited Away, and Arthur from The Sword in the Stone also made the list.
A Filmclub spokesperson explained the purpose behind the study: “Films can have a powerful influence on the way children behave and interact with people around them. Characters that young people identify with tend to stay with them the longest and positive behaviours can be learnt by watching the way that fictional characters handle certain situations on-screen.”
The fact that four of the ten characters chosen are female is encouraging on two levels: it's a sign that the film industry is putting forward positive female role models for children to look up to, and it's an indication that the children themselves are gravitating towards those characters. Now if we could just talk some sense into those pint-sized Kevin McCallister fans...