June 29, 2006

Redefining family

Posted in Conservatives, Family, Movies at 12:17 am by The Lizard Queen

By now many of my readers have already seen “family values expert” Katharine DeBrecht’s take on the new Superman movie. (If not, Shakespeare’s Sister has it here.) There’s little I can say about it that hasn’t already been said, but I did find one particular comment she made interesting: “Portraying Superman with an out-of-wedlock child and potentially breaking up a family is completely unnecessary” (emphasis added).

Hang on there. Breaking up a family? Let’s take a closer look at this, shall we?

I have not yet seen Superman Returns. My understanding of the pertinent plot points, though, is that Superman was gone for a few years, and in the meantime Lois Lane had his baby and got engaged to another man (note that that’s engaged, not married).

So, a consequence (unintended, I’m sure) of DeBrecht’s criticism is that she seems to be saying that a family can be made up of a woman raising her illegitimate child with a man who is not yet her husband. Is it just me, or does that seem to fly in the face of accepted conservative dogma of what actually constitutes a family?

My opinion, of course, is that “family” must be defined by the individuals in a family, and by them alone. It’s nice to think that someone right-wing enough to write a children’s book called Help, Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed agrees with me, if only subconsciously.



  1. Vixen said,

    It seems everyone is co-opting Superman these days. If he’s not a dead beat dad he’s Jesus returned. And if he’s not Jesus then he’s a peddler of everything from soda to tennis shoes. Too bad the actual story of Superman that’s meant to entertain gets buried in all this drek. (I’ve never been into him myself and probably will never see the movie.)

    And groovy, I didn’t know you were that “Sunday girl”. Cool!

  2. DavidD said,

    I would think that “family” or any other word has to mean whatever the user of that word needs it to mean. Where I volunteer, one family gets one folder, so we aren’t duplicating services should two different members of that family come in separately. So for us, the most transient of romantic couplings can be a family, even for homeless people, if they say they want their names in the same folder, so one can pick up food for two and such. When someone says they want their own folder, a new family is born. At the same time, we don’t make multiple generations a family. Some grandparents have full responsiibility for a child, but ordinarily we want a parent coming in regarding any services for children. It’s a functional definition.

    So what is the function of squabbling over the definition of “family”? Hmmm, that’s harder.

  3. Alix said,

    It took me a moment to understand your argument. But, upon reflection, I do agree with your point in a way. Although I haven’t read much of what DeBrecht has said, it seems she is indeed being hypocritical, but only if we can assume she would not claim such a union to be a family (which is probably a valid assumption, but not definitely valid). I dunno, it could be a hard argument to uphold, but then maybe I just need to read more of her writing to truly understand. Either way I was particularly intrigued by this post for some reason.

  4. Fair enough–I don’t know that DeBrecht would consider non-traditional families to be, in fact, non-families. Just glancing at the Amazon.com page for her first book, though, makes me feel like that would be a pretty safe bet.

    Ultimately, though, my main complaint about her comments is less that I suspect that she’s being hypocritical than that she’s complaining about the morals of a work of fiction. Indeed, a work of fiction that is not, in fact, aimed at children at all–it’s rated PG-13, which any parent who’s paying attention would know can often be worse than R (I don’t really expect it to be in this case, but still).

    Always happy to hear what people find intriguing, though! 🙂

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