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Hollywood Calling: Movie Outcomes and Wish-Fulfillment Fantasies

On Behalf of | Aug 15, 2011 | Divorce

Dr. Robert Epstein, a psychologist and writer of parenting guide books, says that, “Hollywood is about fantasy and happy endings,” and that family reconciliation on the big screen in a manner that would not realistically occur in the real word “does no harm at all.”

Not all movie critics and family counselors agree with that, with one therapist, Dr. Simon Casey, calling it “an unhealthy proposition” for many movies to portray that — even post-divorce — the only logical and truly happy outcome for a family is reintegration.

Film critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky agrees with Casey, stating that, “Playing into these wish-fulfillment fantasies over and over isn’t necessarily the best thing.” He adds that, “Acknowledging the reality of how things work might be better.”

Frankly, though, and with few exceptions (read “Kramer vs. Kramer”), movies favor a story line where, after a split or near-dissolution, mom and dad somehow manage to right the ship and restore the family. In some Hollywood plots, the kids are active instigators in the get-the-parents-back-together process.

Vishnevetsky, himself a child of divorce, calls the plot lines in some of these movies “dangerous,” saying that they spread false hope and can erroneously convey to impressionable minds watching that the problems that led to divorce can be quickly and easily fixed.

In most cases, and in real life, divorced Americans know that this is not true and that the factors that led to divorce — often several, many times complex, sometimes volatile — cannot simply be reversed.

Nor should it be casually inferred that they can or should be, given that such thinking downplays the rationale and logic for a divorce in the first place.

Vishnevetsky, for one, would like to see a bit more reality inserted into movie scripts, with less of a “nostalgic tendency to reassure us about how things were before,” and more of an emphasis on “showing us how change can be a good thing.”

Related Resource; ABC News, “In Movies, No Marriage Woes Are Irreconcilable” Aug. 9, 2011