IBB linked to an interesting article by Megan McArdle on Bloomberg View: How Hollywood Can Save Our Families. McArdle points out the enormous disadvantage broken homes create for children and our society. She proposes having Hollywood use its moral force to sell two parent families:
I’m not talking about sticking a few propaganda story lines into Very Special Episodes of some sitcom, which wouldn’t do a darn thing. Rather, I’m saying that if Hollywood actually believed that married two-parent families were overwhelmingly optimal, that would naturally shape what they wrote, in a way that would in turn probably shape what Americans believe, and do.
However, she notes that this would require liberal Hollywood to sell a socially conservative message:
But this is an inherently socially conservative message, and Hollywood is about the furthest thing you can name from socially conservative — our entertainment industry tends to send socially conservative messages only accidentally, as it did with “16 and Pregnant.”
This is true, but the problem is much bigger than even McArdle identifies. Even “social conservatives” aren’t truly comfortable with the message she would ask Hollywood to sell. When it comes to portraying husbands and fathers as fools and villains, even Spielberg can’t hold a candle to the movies modern Christians make. It isn’t just the left we would have to convince to value fathers and honor intact families. First we must convince the right to do so.
There is after all another way we could send a message to our entire culture that broken families are a bad thing; we could stop offering a cash reward for each broken family in the form of child support, or we could at least reduce the attractiveness of child support by greatly limiting it. If you want to understand how difficult selling intact families will be to social conservatives, try raising the idea of eliminating or greatly reducing child support to them. Child support is our modern alternative family structure, the structure we designed to replace marriage. Despite only existing for a few decades in its current form, child support has been profoundly successful in displacing marriage. Prior to child support single mothers and divorce were all but unheard of. Now both are extremely common
and out of wedlock births continue to rapidly increase*.
Nearly all conservatives are very much in favor of intact families in theory, but when it comes to subsidizing the destruction of families conservatives are all but unmovable. The reason for this is conservatives are just as invested in divorce and single motherhood as empowerment for women as feminists are. As an astute commenter on a related post at Ricochet titled What Do the Ten Most Dangerous Cities in America Have in Common? noted:
On a side note, this post catalogs the effects of marriage; but not just any kind of marriage. It documents the need for the kind of marriage where parents, especially men, exert a substantial moral influence, and doing so in neighborhoods which maintain that moral influence. It’s not only that we have parents, but that those parents have a job to do, and society depends on them doing it effectively.
Child support, far more than no fault divorce, abortion, and contraception, is the legal force which underpins modern feminism. Child support is the solution to shotgun weddings, unhappy marriages, and strong husbands & fathers. No fault divorce is designed not just to destroy families, but to weaken husbands in all marriages. However child support is the economic arm which makes divorce an attractive option for wives, and therefore makes divorce a credible threat when there are children involved. Child support is also the incentive which makes it more attractive for single mothers to remain single than to marry the father.
In short, long before we convince Hollywood that marriage is sacred and fathers matter, we will have to convince conservatives and then moderates that this is true. By the time we get around to selling liberals on the importance of marriage and fathers we won’t need Hollywood’s help anyway. In theory it should be easiest to convince Christian conservatives that marriage is sacred, but realistically it will probably be secular conservatives who come around on this first. Merely being vocally ambivalent on the role of husbands and fathers is now at the extreme right of modern Christian culture. While convincing anyone, even conservatives, that marriage and fathers matter may seem impossible now, this will become easier as the full cost of the broken homes underwriting feminist “empowerment” becomes harder and harder to ignore. Eventually when the costs get high enough the unthinkable has a way of suddenly seeming obvious. The only question is how much pain we are collectively willing to endure before this happens.
*Correction: Out of wedlocks have remained flat since 2009.