Hollywood

Hollywood

Marriage vs. Alluring Images of Infidelity

commitment, community, culture, divorce, Hollywood, intact family No comments

The seven-decade tradition of TV watching continues apace in the Internet Age: 34.2 percent of the internet bandwidth is occupied by Netflix during primetime according to Sandvine the provider of such data. But there is a link between TV viewing and the state of marriage.

A natural experiment occurred in Brazil between 1960 and 1990 as the government there pursued a TV expansion strategy, moving into a new state every few years and building the infrastructure for TV watching. This staggered project provided a staggered change in behavior as peoples TV viewing changed in each newly furbished state. The end result: a significant rise, and a staggered rise province by province, as TV viewing spread. Soap opera viewing (i.e., infidelity-viewing) was identified as one of the most significant aspects of the change.  Henry Potrykus of MARRI summarizes the research in a brief paper.

We in the states have been watching TV for so long, and its content increasingly depicts family lifestyles that we have come to accept and condone (sex outside of marriage, divorce, and cohabitation), that we are likely totally unaware of the effect of TV watching on the family behavior of ourselves and of our children. Even mature adults are affected. Divorce among those fifty and above has grown very significantly in the last few decades. Instead of seeking marital therapy that works, the divorce court seems to be the route of choice.

Where lies this power to change? One of the most powerful resources of the mind is the faculty of the imagination. Skilled hypnotherapists use it all the time, and to great effect. Top athletes become experts at using it constantly in their preparation and even during peak contests. One of the greatest, if not the greatest, psychotherapists ever, Milton Erickson, started early in his career with traditional hypnosis but forty years later had evolved to getting the right helpful image into the mind of his client… By the art of storytelling. TV combines the story, the image, and the idea. No wonder it has such powerful effects.

Americans watch an average of 2.8 hours of TV per dayaccording to one of the best sources, the Department of Labor’s Time Use Survey. Can we have a strong culture that feeds on so much family-weakening imagery? Brazil says no. 

It may not be the picture or what is viewed as much as the ideas—conveyed most powerfully through the image—that have the impact, as Richard Weaver in 1948 contended and as he foretold the generalized effects of TV, which he called “The Great Stereopticon” in his classic “Ideas Have Consequences.” Ideas with story images have even greater consequences for good or for ill. Parents, take note. And my wife and I had better be careful about what we watch on TV. We become what we think about.

There was black and white, but now we have Grey

family, Hollywood, MARRI, pornography No comments


By MARRI Intern
50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James is a novel about a college student named Anastasia and her relationship with young millionaire, Christian Grey. Their relationship involves not merely “hooking up” but BDSM, which stands for bondage, dominance, sadism, and masochism. The book portrays Christian and Anastasia’s relationship as violent and demeaning, rather than the intimate relationship God designed sex to be.
In addition to the 2012 novel’s buzz, Charlie Hunnam and Dakota Johnson were recently cast for the roles of Christian and Anastasia in the new Universal Pictures film.  But the impending production of a Fifty Shadesadaptation engenders deeper controversy than whether or not these actors will play their parts well.
With guarantees from Fifty Shades’ screenwriter Kelly Marcel of a NC-17 rating, a more sobering and disconcerting question to ask is how did a novel so unashamedly focused on unorthodox (to say the least) sexual practices produce enough interest and hype that a major film studio would want to produce it?  Furthermore, a recent study showed that 90% of women view pornography as degrading; and yet it has been the novel’s vast female readership that has propelled its popularity and buzz.
So why haven’t women seen 50 Shades of Grey for what it is? As a nation, we need to decide what we want our minds filled with. Will we dwell on what is pure and good or on that which morally is not?

For more on pornography’s detrimental effects, check out these MARRI resources.

More on Chastity: Sex by the Numbers

feminism, Hollywood, marriage, sexual revolution, sexuality, women No comments

By Anna Dorminey, Staff

If you recall from my blog post on the romantic comedy “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” the characters’ number of past sexual partners doesn’t figure largely in the overall plot of the story. I was surprised, however, to read a few days ago about a film whose storyline is entirely based around the issue.

Meet Ally Darling, the fictitious star of What’s Your Number?. Ms. Darling is, as the tagline says, “looking for the best ex of her life.” The film’s trailer shows her out with a group of girlfriends when one announces that 96 percent of American women who have had twenty or more sexual partners will be unable to marry. We’ll flash back here to data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth (which we also cited in the blog post mentioned above).
The data is pretty telling: Only 18-20 percent of women with Ally’s sexual history are able to marry stably. The problem is, the film won’t show this. Perhaps her wedding is shown at the end of the flick in a happy montage of photos, as in “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” but what happens after the credits are done rolling and the catchy music is off?

Even worse than the apparent trend of portraying fantasy in movies as reality is the fact that many women apparently still don’t believe that sexual history or chastity matter at all when it comes to future happiness. I actually first heard about “What’s Your Number?” from the blog Feministing. According to the author of the post that covered the movie,

[T]he bottom line is if women are upset about how many people they have had sex with, it is either because the sex has been terrible or because of external social pressure and faux-moral judgement [sic]. Despite what the anti-sex set may believe, how much sex you have today, does not impact your ability to be in a successful relationship later” [emphasis added].

What do you think? In light of the data above, what can we do to share the importance of preserving intimacy for marriage?

Four Weddings, a Funeral, and Chastity

cohabitation, commitment, Hollywood, marriage, sexual revolution No comments

By Anna Dorminey, Staff

When it comes to relationships, at times it’s difficult to determine whose advice to take to heart and whose to ignore. While I don’t consider myself an authority on the subject, I don’t think I’ll meet much resistance when I say that romantic comedies are not a fount of realistic or wise counsel.
Case in point: “Four Weddings and a Funeral.” The film was a major hit when it premiered in 1994; it was the highest-grossing British film to that point and received warm praise from critics. The story is set in Englandand follows a set of seven or eight single friends as they attend weddings and funerals. Among them is charmingly awkward and bumbling Charles, played by Hugh Grant.
At the first wedding, Charles meets a beautiful American woman named Carrie, played by Andie McDowell. The pair spend the night together, after which she returns home to America. They are intimate a few other times, even after she becomes engaged to another man. I’ll spare you a full plot synopsis, but when the two get around to discussing their sexual history, Charles reveals that he has had relations with several women. This, however, is nothing to Carrie’s admitted 33 sexual conquests.
The film ends on Charles’s wedding day. Carrie is in attendance and we find she is already separated from her husband. Charles abandons his bride at the altar and asks Carrie, “Do you think…you might agree not to marry me? And do you think not being married to me might maybe be something you could consider doing for the rest of your life?” Carrie responds, “I do.” The film ends in a montage of happy photos, including a shot of Charles, Carrie, and a baby boy.
What the plot of “Four Weddings” implies is that it’s possible to have dozens of sexual liaisons without slowly destroying your ability to have a healthy relationship. Carrie is physically intimate with 33 men over the course of her lifetime (as far as we can tell), but this isn’t portrayed as detrimental to her ability to settle down with the right man.
Unfortunately, reality is grimmer than the movies. The charts at this link—based on a large data sample in the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth—depict a woman’s likelihood to be in a stable marriage five years to ten years after her wedding day. Though Carrie and Charles do not actually marry, the lesson is clear: one’s statistical likelihood of enjoying a stable relationship without committing to sexual purity is hardly as rosy as “Four Weddings” represents it.

The second falsehood is the film’s assertion that cohabitation is the functional equivalent of marriage. If one’s odds of marital stability after a lifetime of promiscuity are bleak, consider that cohabiting relationships last around one year in the United States—even in France, Britain’s neighbor, the average cohabitation lasts only four years.[1]Lastly, Carrie and Charles have a baby. If unmarried cohabitation is not the lifetime of personally defined bliss that they expect it will be, she will likely end up a single mother. This family structure brings with it all sorts of difficulties, but the long and short of them is that children raised in single-mother homes have to grapple with obstacles that children born into intact, married families struggle with less.
What do you think? Do you think Carrie and Charles really live happily ever after, or do they fall in line with the trends above once the cameras quit rolling?


[1] Patrick Heuveline and Jeffrey Timberlake, “The Role of Cohabitation in Family Formation: The United States in Comparative Perspective,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 66, no. 5 (2004): 1223.