What happened to the American family?

The American family has had a bit of a change of depiction over the past few decades. In the old days, from the 60’s to the 80’s, the American family was depicted as a rather close bunch (if only because America wanted to look good). It looked something like this:

the old american family

Doesn’t that look pleasant?

It may have been idealistic, but it’s the image that deep down, all families want to aspire to, regardless of ideology. But then, in the 1990’s, The Simpsons went on air, and changed the face of television. The Simpsons took the American family, and distorted it, exaggerating it to the point that they are the lowest of the low, and stating that this is how all families are, when in reality it is an exaggerated stereotype.

The Simpsons was the first to distort the American family, and because of its success, many shows would follow, with their own distortion, and now the image of the American family looks something like this:

the new american family

What a mess! Are they trying to make us think all families are like this?

The American family as a stereotype has changed dramatically. Nowadays, writers will just cherry-pick the worst examples that society has to offer, and pass them off as normal, as we’ve seen in Family Guy, which the example picture above is representing.

To say that it doesn’t represent “family values” would be quite stupid, as by “family values”, we mean the right wing Republican values that politicians claim to uphold. Family values are incredibly subjective because every family could have different rules (though most of the time they just follow the same authoritarian trend). However, we’re letting TV paint the worst images possible, and passing it off as normal, and we’re mindlessly accepting it as truth.

I’ve noticed that all the shows that do this are sitcoms, or comedy shows. Do people honestly think that violent dysfunction in the family is funny? Let me make a point. Violence isn’t funny. It can be entertaining or grotesque, but never funny. In fact, brutal violence like in newer episodes of Family Guy and South Park is what ruins comedy.

You know, I’m sick of the man of the house always being a fat, selfish idiot. Why can’t the archetype be more of a smarter, more confident authority figure, like he should be? Why are the mothers always depicted as lustful hypocrites who try in vain to cling to their youth? Why is the son always depicted as an idiot with a libido? Why is the daughter always shafted to the side? Why is family always Christian? Why? How? What? Why?

To summarize, the international perception of the American family, and indeed Americans in general, is being unfairly influenced by distorted stereotypes. Not all families are fat,  not all families are Christian, and not all families are stupid. Yes, it is alright for the media to use stereotypes, but not if they pass the stereotype off as the norm.


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