Monday, February 11, 2013

Dysfunctional Hollywood

One of the trends we've noticed in movies over the last few years is to make every family dysfunctional. I think the logic is that movies are supposed to reflect "reality" (which, sadly, they might), and since apparently no one in Hollywood believes there are any happy, stable families left in existence, they film what they (think they) know. The trend is so strong that nowadays it's impossible for Hollywood to depict a "traditional" family in a positive light. If a nuclear family is actually (gasp) intact, then it means everyone is full of angst, anger, addictions, affairs, or other vices.

I remember finding a movie remake of the 1960s television series Lost in Space. The Robinsons in the original Lost in Space, if you recall, were a close and loving family who had all sorts of campy adventures; but no one doubted the strength of their family ties.

However in the movie remake, everyone hated each other. The family unit, naturally, had to be dysfunctional. Sheesh, folks, would you really send a family into space when they were already at each others' throats? Does that sound like a recipe for success in interstellar exploration?

So anyway, this evening Don was looking through some listings of movie releases when he came across a movie blurb so extraordinary that he read it out loud:

Desperate to get out from under her overprotective mother, a home-schooled teen runs off to live with her dad, and forms a bond with his much-younger boyfriend.


The movie, entitled Sassy Pants, was released last year.

To conceive of such a stoopid plot, it's as if, literally, Hollywood simply cannot fathom a family that actually gets along. Everyone has to be dysfunctional. On the IMDB page, someone left a note: Worst mother since Mommy Dearest. Then of course she's representative of ALL homeschooling moms, right?

"Who thinks of these plots?" I groused.

"Hollywood," replied Don. "They probably said to themselves, 'Let's make a movie that reflects our viewpoint on something we know nothing about. Since no one could possibly like being homeschooled, and people probably just homeschool to hide the bruises anyway, let's have a plot with a dysfunctional family and give it a modern twist.'"

I guess this is how Hollywood defines normal.

We don't watch a lot of movies in our family, and if this is the drivel coming out of Tinseltown, I guess we're not missing much. Anyway, I can assure you we will never ever see this film.

Personally I don't think it's homeschooling families that are dysfunctional. It's Hollywood.


  1. My husband's favorite music students are the home-schooled kids. They are bright, articulate, polite, and hard workers.

  2. Most TV families are dysfunctional, too. Father Knows Best, or Leave it to Beaver couldn't be conceived of now.
    Very sad.

    That's why hubby and I tend to watch only cartoons if we go to the movies; or shows made from biographies like Little House on the Prairie.

  3. I had to read that movie description twice.
    And not because I liked it, but to see if I really read what I think I read.

  4. Hey Patrice, here's a suggestion if you ever feel like watching a really cool movie that you can actually watch with your family. My seven year old daughter came in the living room while I was watching an old John Wayne movie and sat down and watched it with me. She liked it and asked me if there were anymore movies like that on. It got me thinking about old movies I had seen as a kid. I had to buy it but it wasn't too expensive on Amazon. I bought How the West Was Won featuring practically every big name actor around at the time it was made. It made for a great movie night for the family. Don

  5. Short answer to whether Hollywood understands homeschoolers: No. If you don't know any homeschoolers you believe the media portrayal of sexually-repressed, child-beating Bible thumpers still ruing the day Prohibition was repealed. I used to be one of those people. But I've got cousins who got homeschooled and they'e doing fine. I also dated a yoga instructor with hippie parents who homeschooled her and she's perfectly stable. The cousins are evangelical Christians, the yoga instructor is Jewish. Hollywood doesn't know them and doesn't want to.

  6. Patrice, I used to work in the entertainment industry, and I have a few thoughts on why Hollywood sees the family this way.
    1) Every story requires conflict. You either have to have external conflict (an adventure), internal/interpersonal conflict (a character-driven story), or both. When you read Romeo and Juliet, or Midsummer Night's Dream, or any of the Greek plays, you see that dysfunctional families have always made good entertainment. In our culture today we blur the line so much between reality and entertainment we wind up celebrating the dysfunction, instead of using it as a cautionary tale or catharsis.

    2) Show-business careers are very, very, very hard on family relationships, personal health, and spiritual development. 20 hour days, unlimited travel, no fixed schedule, total focus on your appearance (and in LA, even non-actors are heavily judged on their appearance), and a 10-15 year startup investment before most people earn any kind of living. Most actors and actresses I know get to their early 30's and either give up on the idea of marriage and family, or give up/take a limited role in the business. Of course there are exceptions, but they are uncommon. It is a career that is all-consuming and must be fueled by unremitting ambition.

    3) Young people who are alienated, dysfunctional, and have emotional problems are disproportionately drawn to show business. Writing, producing and performing can either be cathartic and help them work out their issues,or else it can allow them to avoid dealing with the issues because they do not form deep long-lasting relationships (see #2). Unhealthy, obsessive, and extreme behavior is accepted and made allowances for, as long as you perform well. Can you imagine Charlie Sheen becoming highly successful in any other line of work, with his long history of atrocious behavior? But he was funny, so he stayed working and stayed too rich too long for his own good.

    4. More specifically to #3 is that young people who have experienced manipulation, emotional abuse, legalism, or poor/shallow doctrine within the church or house of worship, or at home, feel it is their mission in life to expose "hypocracy" - and they really believe that all happy-looking families and church groups are hypocritical, because that was their experience.

    Few young people who are happy and contented with their families, and have a solid inner core of self-worth, have the all-consuming and often self-destructive drive that is often needed to succeed in show business.

    Just my $0.02.

  7. Patrice wrote: "To conceive of such a stoopid plot, it's as if, literally, Hollywood simply cannot fathom a family that actually gets along. Everyone has to be dysfunctional."

    Not to mention the premise that all it will take to make the dad's boyfriend switch teams is to have a cute young (female) thing move in. Guhhhh.

    Pretty much everybody can be insulted by this movie.

  8. my kids mostly watch old westerns, especially John Wayne movies. They also watch Bonanza and Gunsmoke and the Andy Griffith Show on netflix. Thank goodness for netflix, it's great that they can watch some of those great old shows, and we got rid of the dish and all the trash that they show on tv nowadays.

  9. Lately, I have just been disgusted on how much attention is given to the Hollywood types who live in the most unrealistic way. I'm tired of hearing about Kim's baby bump and all the other nonsense that is being shoved our way as entertainment.i quit getting the newspaper and we have just the most basic tv. I have stacks of books and am thankful for them. I just wish I had blinders on when I stand in the check out lane at the groacery store.

  10. A few years ago I finally stopped surfing the movies available on Netflix except for the documentaries. It was so depressing to see how all the new releases especially, were about dating problems, affairs, divorces, etc. Blah! We've also learned our lesson about any children's movies released by Nickelodeon- they all portray obnoxious children being rude to their siblings and parents.

    I am not a fan of most new children's books either and adore all the moldy oldies. ;) If it's good and yellowed, smells musty and was published before 1960, I will be reading it to my kids with enthusiasm!

  11. I also love the old movies... but one has to be careful. My adult daughter (homeschooled) saw the latest James Bond movie and then later saw an old one on Netflix. Her comment was that the old one has so much more promiscuity than the new one. Interesting, but I think in some cases this is true... especially movies made in the 60s.