The New Meaning of Family By: Kelsey Wathen

What do we consider the typical or average family? This answer is never the same, and families are constantly changing this by going outside of that used to be the norm. Many years ago when we thought of a perfect family we thought of certain things. But now a days when you talk to kids, or young adults they do not have the same idea as their elders.  I choose the topic of family because it consist of one simple thing a bunch of people that love and care for each other. But who they are, and the ways that they became a family are very complex, and interesting. Everyone has a story, and each story started from home. Throughout my playlist I looked at what the idea of family meant to certain groups and then showed how it is changing each day.

1. Bilo Commercial

This commercial shows us what we the average, stereotypical white family consist of. It starts off in the kitchen which made me think of the super mom, and this idea of all that she does. She has taken care of the kids all day, cleaned the house, and mad a huge dinner. Also in the commercial they have the whole family there for dinner. They are all white, and look to be doing fine finically. They have a nice big home; where they can host all these people for dinner, and they are able to afford Bilo food. Bilo tries to play on the fact that if you want to have these big great happy family dinners like these people then you need buy their food. “In America, the norm is usually defined as white, thin, young, heterosexual, Christian and financially secure”(Lorde19). This family shows us what the norm, or the stereotypical American family should be like.

2. Backseat Italians

In this commercial they play on stereotypes to sell this car. They are selling the fiat car, which is not very popular in the United States yet. The stereotypes that they play on are from Italy, because this is where the car is popular. When they buy the car, there is a family sitting in the back. They make them speak Italian, and make them talk to each other the whole time. A few of the stereotypes that they used were, when they were at the coffee shop. They did not want coffee they wanted espresso. Another one is the way that they dressed. They all were white, and were dressed very well. At the end of the commercial you see that the couple who bought the car are now a part of the culture they bought this car and now dress and act like them. The car company is telling you that if you buy this car then they will make you like this family. This car will show you how to act, and talk. This is a play on the typical Italian family.

3.Secret Millionaire

There is this idea of “built in privilege of whiteness”(Lorde20) In the secret millionaire it is taking the idea of this financially  well off white male, and putting him in a black community that is struggling. They play using the stereotypes that white families are well off, and these black families are hurting. They do make it seem like they are bad, they just make it so that they are different. “One is looking at a cage and that there re people there who are caged, whose motion and mobility are restricted, and whose lives are shaped and reduced (Frye43). These black communities are in the cage, and we are looking in. They make it so that these cages are very hard to break through and move. We know that this is how these black families live, but it really is not going to change.

4.Cheerios Commercial

Can family units change, or do we have to stay to the norms. In this they are talking about a cheerios commercial. The commercial raised eyebrows because they have a mixed family in it. But today culture is changing. The adults might not think that it is ok to be mixed, but at this shows us new generations do not care about the norm. Older generations have this idea that “color become “other” the outsider whose experience and tradition is to “alien” to comprehend”( Lorde 21).  This idea that colored people are different or outsiders is becoming less and less. I think that it is very interesting that most of the kids had no idea what was wrong with the commercial. They knew that the family was mixed, but just thought that the commercial was cute.  It  is not that the kids did not understand once told, they just did not care. Through their eyes nothing was wrong. They looked at it as a happy family with a dad, mom, and daughter.

5.Modern Family

Modern Family

The show “modern family” the name says it all. This show plays in the idea of family units today. It has three families that are in the show. The first one is the dad, and his new young wife. He has two kids from a previous marriage who have their own families, and then they just had a baby together.  His daughters family is more traditional, she has a husband , and three kids. But his Sons family consists of his husband a child that they adopted. I used this example because it is really how families are today. We are slowing changing the way that a family unit can be looked at but you still have the traditional white family. “detournement, translated literally as a “turning around” ( Warner147) They are culturally jamming throughout this show.  They do this by having each family unit different.  I liked this example because it includes gay couple.  This is a large part of society today.  Years ago this was not allowed, so it is becoming very important for these people to have the same rights as everyone else. They want to have that family unit also.

Has the idea of the average family changed? For years we have been going on this idea of stereotypes. “ Much of Western European history condition us to see human differences in simplistic opposition to each other: dominant/subordinate, good/bad, up/down, superior/inferior”( Lorde18) These have created boundaries for people, and also idea what people need to achieve. The “family” a white family who has a mom, dad, kids, and maybe pets. This is what an American family is supposed to be. Everyone is trying to achieve this perfect life and one of the steps is creating this family. We think that people of color have it harder, and do not always have each piece to create this perfect family.  Colored people are oppressed, and so is the family unit. They struggle day to day just to make it. In both commercials the white families were very happy and outgoing. But in secret millionaire they showed the color people struggling. The advertising company’s planed this. “Advertising does not always mirror how people are acting but how they’re dreaming”(Jhally).  That is where this idea of the happy perfect family comes into play. The family unit is not very complex. When looking at the bird cage each family is very similar. Race is white, gender is one male one female, and religion is normally Christian. Many people in a America have these double blinds that make it hard for them. For example gays they are criticized that they cannot have family, but if we legalize their marriage so that they can people are mad about it. Many people place stereotypes on people who are gay. First they are not looked at as a family. They are not considered a family because there is not a man and women.  They are not able to have kids either so this makes it a lot harder for them to create the idea of family. These ideas have been placed in our heads for a while but slowly these are changing.

In society today we still have the idea of family it is just more accepted.  When thinking of family I think of people who love each other. This idea that to be perfect you have to be certain things is less and less.  Today a family can be any colors, there are mixed families. Also families of color can be very well off. They do not have all these boundaries that they have to face. They can be same sex marriage.  I think that the cheerios commercial shows how society is today very well. This family had everything that a stereotypical family would have; the only difference was that they had two different colored parents. They make it seem like it is no big deal. To younger people it is not a big deal. We see it more and more growing up, so it does not seem weird.  When looking at their bird cage they are able to add one more thing. This makes them more complex and interesting. “Those of us who stand outside that power often identify one way in which we are different”(Lorde19).  Different is becoming ok; we are trying to incorporate this into current day. Overall we need to base family less on stereotypes and accept what people choose to do.

Work Cited:

The Fine Bros. “ Kids React to Controversial Cheerios Commercial.” Online video clip.YouTube. YouTube, 14 Jul. 2011. Web.

Frye, Marilyn. “Oppression.” Reading Women’s Lives. Ed. Amanda Rossie. New York: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2010. Pg 39-49.

Funny or Die. “Backseat Italians.” Online video clip.YouTube. YouTube, 2 Aug. 2013. Web.

Jhally, Sut. “Image-Based Culture.” Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Critical Reader. Ed. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. 3rd ed. Los Angeles: Sage, 2011. 199-203. Print.

Lorde, Audre. “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference.” Reading Women’s Lives. Ed. Amanda Rossie. New York: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2010. Pg 17-27.

Madried, Dianne. “ Secret Millionaire.” Online video clip.YouTube. YouTube, 12 Sep. 2012. Web.

Penland, Erwin. “Bilo Family Dinner.” Online video clip.YouTube. YouTube, 26 Sept. 2011. Web.

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