Mar. 24th, 2009

shoebox_dw: (why not dance)
Haven't been to the Metro Reference Library in ages, so decided to swing by tonight. As an aside, I really can't see why I don't do same more often. 'Food for thought' is a concept that I take seriously, and the Metro Ref is the equivalent of a black-tie banquet; all that lovely knowledge spread forth to be sampled, savoured or flat-out snarfed up, just as the mood strikes.

However, this post isn't about my contented daze - it covers the line that snapped me out of it. In re: Michael Landon and Little House on the Prairie, a TVGuide tome claimed that, roughly, 'He showed millions of viewers what a happy loving family could be..."

Ah...huh. I do not wish to pile it on the man any higher than the six feet already manifest, but come ON, now. As I think even the most sentimental of us can admit, this is feting a guy whose concept of loving family happiness mostly involved exploring the ways it deepens wounds and heightens suffering. On this show, if you love someone, welcome to a nigh-endless parade of drug addiction, blindness, alcoholism, abuse, rape, miscarriage, abandonment, menopause, the death of a child/wife/parent/dog, crop failures, devastating fires, loathsome get the idea. It was family togetherness as primal scream therapy, is what it was. And it usually wasn't even that subtle ("Say it! My brother is going to die! Say it! MY-BROTHER-IS-GOING-TO-DIE!")

This started me thinking about TV families generally, and why, the more they insisted on this kind of realism ('gripping drama' was the phrase usually used) the less I, scion of a highly *ahem* realistic family, could actually relate.

It could be that the Shoe clan just wasn't that interesting even in dysfunction, a distinct possibility. Then could be that, overall, real families in crisis generally aren't particularly exciting - speaking from the objective dramatic POV, at any rate. It's been my experience that people in RL tend to paper over their broken bits as much as possible - and by natural extension, their families' - simply because when you're in this kind of a situation your ultimate goal, your consuming desire, is to just be normal. Or anyway as close to it as you can possibly get, in public if nothing else.
Mind, there's always the chance that you'll grow up to develop a fascination with 50's radio comedians partly because they seem so blissfully average. But on the whole, not so much with the Huge Honking Traumatic Deal it all seemed to be on your Little Houses and Family-s and even The Waltons there for awhile. I mean, of course it often is a huge deal, it's just...well, you know. You deal with it, and part of that is you look for a nice escape on the TV, and instead there's John-Boy angsting over some ruddy traditional rite of Walton manhood or another. Just shoot the damn deer already, Freakish Mole Boy.

This in turn has got me realising a bit wistfully that I'll never really know normal, at least not in terms of family... at least. Is it kind of weird that, seriously, one of my chief interests re: Bob & Ray is playing around with the idea of them as average husbands and fathers? You know, contented patriarchs of their own little clans, wherein dads love their wives, and are kind and wise and understanding to their kids rather than forcing it to be the other way round, and everybody has supper together in the evenings, and it's all very (I'm assuming) sweater-intensive?

Yes, before you rush to the comments box, I know deep down that it was never really like that, for anyone. B&R had eleven kids between them at the height of the Baby Boom, I know damn well it couldn't have been even close to like that for them. Anyway, not after 1964.
Also, I should mention that I feel pretty silly, whining like this over comparatively minor issues. Shoedad wasn't a bad guy; he was just far too damaged himself to ever provide real emotional support to anyone else. As for the things that broke him...well, they're the stuff mainly of understood silence save the occasional loud accusation at the end of a drunken evening. I didn't say that there weren't times when a huge cathartic screaming fit wouldn't be welcome...only that it's unlikely.

Instead, I revel in the fact that I'm a ferociously independent woman who's learned strength in ways many people never will. And...I daydream, sometimes.


shoebox_dw: (Default)

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