Date With Your Family, A
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- Public Domain
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A Date With Your Family, a true suburban horror story, outdoes all other social guidance films by advising kids to do whatever is necessary Ñ even lie Ñ to achieve harmonious family relations. The odd title reveals its odd thesis: that teenagers should treat a family dinner as if it was a date, a date with someone who they really wanted to be with. As the voice of authority tells us, ÒThese boys greet their Dad as though they were genuinely glad to see him, as though they really missed being away from him.Ó And in a world where "the women of the family feel they owe it to the men of the family to look relaxed,Ó there seems to be little reason for ÒDaughterÓ to study as hard as ÒSonÓ before dinner. ÒPleasant, unemotional conversation helps the digestion.Ó Words to live by.
Simmel-Meservey produced a number of films on courtesy, etiquette and behavior (Let's Give a Tea, Junior Prom, Dinner Party; Obligations, Introductions and others). All employ an authoritative-sounding narrator (who is not above trying to crack a wry joke at times) but none let the actors speak directly; the voice of authority is never challenged. More than other company's films, they play on fear and guilt. A Date With Your Family was one of their most successful releases, picked up for distribution by industry giant Encyclopaedia Britannica Films.
A contemporary review authored by classroom teachers criticized this film, which appears to have been shot in affluent West Los Angeles, for showing an upper-class family to which many students might not be able to relate. What do you think?
EMPHASIZES THE NEED FOR GREATER AWARENESS IN THE HOME OF RESPECT THAT ALL MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY SHOULD HAVE FOR THE OTHERS. SHOWS HOW FAMILY TIES ARE STRENGTHENED BY PRACTICE OF SIMPLE COURTESIES.
Ken Smith sez: This brain-deadening film seems to go on forever, but it's well worth repeated viewing. It's probably one of the last to reflect pre-war social behavior; the great classless society of the fifties was just emerging and "formality" had not yet become a dirty word (see DINNER PARTY, HOW DO YOU DO and JUNIOR PROM as other examples).
A narrator explains that teenaged "Daughter" and "Brother" treat every meal with their family as if it were "a truly special occasion." We follow the progress of a typical meal while the narrator offers a continuous stream of advice, such as; "pleasant, unemotional conversation helps digestion," and "the dinner table is no place for discontent." Of course, Mother and Daughter do all the cooking, while Father and Brother show deference and appreciation. "This will make them want to continue pleasing you," the narrator adds. "Help cut your meat, Junior?"
FAMILY LIFE CHILDREN PARENTS FOOD
- 2002-07-16 00:00:00
- Closed captioning
- United States
- Run time
Subject: The Best Of Intentions...
Moral of the story? The points this movie was supposed to make are instead shown to be a fable.
Subject: Look Right For The Guys in the Family
OK film, but a bit overdone - I guess to make a point.
Subject: Dinner with The Stepford's
You can see this in how the older brother doesn't even have his own room but has to share it with his little brother probably a decade younger than him. Plus, he must be a mini substitute parent at times, cleaning up the kid before supper, sitting next to him and cutting his meat. Sis has it much worse. Although she likely has her own bedroom, she is already a virtual extension of mom, having to attend to the dinner as soon as she walks in from school. Mom may have started dinner earlier but it is now her job to finish it (but first must dress up so she will be "visually pleasing" to the men at the table). Not only must she finish up the cooking but then serve it and then clean up (look at her wiping her brow over the kitchen sink in the (on seperate page) color outakes of this film. Where did she get the time to make that handmade centerpiece of flowers from thw garden? Before breakfast? In the middle of the night?
Notice too she serves everyone else cake but takes none for herself. Her parents get the chairs with the arms, while she has to put up with a much plainer chair with no arms (we can't see what kinds of chairs the boys are sitting on.)
My older sister was born in 1943 and tells me how much cooking, ironing, cleaning and babysitting of younger siblings she had to do in the 50's (while the brother 4 years younger than her was expected to do nothing). She felt like a maid or a housekeeper, not a daughter.
Although I was not born until 1957, I do remember my parents often saying "Children are to be seen and not heard". There was still much attitude that children were just extensions of their parents.
Back in the 1930's and earlier children were often thought of as "little savages" that had to be strictly guided and trained in manners and courtesy in order to live in a civilized society.
Back in those times teens (girls especially) could not wait to turn 21, to be able to wear what were considered adult clothes, thought of as adults and attend adult parties (view "What Makes A Good Party" from 1950 for what adults thought suitable gatherings for older teen/college age "children".)
Any adult-even a total stranger, had authority over a child or teen and the strangers' word was accepted 'verbatim' by other adults over the child or teen, because children or teens were not thought of as persons in their own right and had no say or opinion over what adults siad-even complete strangers.
Subject: To all the Barney Kids
Was dinner like this? At first I'd say no.
But in reality it was similar. The 4 boys in my family weren't allowed to act up and a spilled glass of milk sent you from the table. Mom did all the cooking and Dad complimented her every single night. We were expected to arrive at the table when called and we asked to be excused when finished.
I know you smug Gen-what ever you are, are thinking "Where's the TV?" "Where's the Ipod?" "Where's the profanity...the mouthing off to parents..the absolute worship of children?" It was still waiting in the wings for todays parents to deal with the entitled, self-absorbed brats that America is producing as children.
It may seem silly to you now but wait until your precious offspring tells you to "Talk to the hand".
Subject: Don't make to much of it
Subject: It's Not That Terrible
Subject: "Sinister"?? LOL!
No, it's not "sinister" at all. The narrator uses the phrase "as though" because he's an observer of the action. He's not reading the actor's minds. He's narrating and remarking on how things SEEM by the way the actors express themselves, hold themselves, and interact with other people.
"I can say from experience that few things are less pleasant as a kid than being compelled to play-act over the dinner table at being a happy family, but that's just what this short film tells us to do."
It's hell on the adults when the kids act like brats! The whole point of this film is to treat members of your family with the same courtesy and respect you'd give to your friends (of course, with the comments of some people on this thread, there's no guarantee they'd treat their friends very well, either!)
So if you can't treat your family at least as well as you'd treat your friends, then how about treating them the way you'd like to be treated? What's so hard about being considerate? That there are other people in the world besides you? That the members of your family DESERVE to be treated well?
LatinGal is absolutely right. I totally agree with what she said, but then, my family and I get along marvelously. It requires some effort, as do all interactions with human beings - but we agree it's worth it.
Nothing at all sinister involved (maybe some of us are luckier than others, or maybe we work at it!)
Subject: Father, I had a feeling today.
Come now! You talk as though that were the only creepy line about concealing your feelings or putting up a facade. We are told that mother and daughter "seem to feel" that it's their duty to please the men by dressing up nicely. It's "owed to" the men. The "as though" line isn't sinister? Maybe the second "as though they missed him" immediately afterward is sinister, though. Or maybe the bit where father treats his daughter "as though her were his best girl" is sinister. "Unemotional" conversation is stressed several times--in fact, the narrator lays down so many conditions on what you should talk about at the dinner table that it prompts the question of what you _can_ talk about.
I'm not saying that family dinners ought to be avoided or that politeness and courtesy are bad. I am saying that nothing is gained, however, by _enforced_ family cordiality. I can say from experience that few things are less pleasant as a kid than being compelled to play-act over the dinner table at being a happy family, but that's just what this short film tells us to do.
Subject: Why diss it?
As for the quote about the boys greeting their father 'as though' they are happy to see him, there's nothing sinister in the line at all. Look at their faces: they are smiling. The father is smiling. He's interested in 'Junior's' baseball glove. The narrator is being DESCRIPTIVE, not prescriptive. He did not say, 'These boys hate their father, but they are so repressed and terrified of him that they feign pleasure at seeing him.' That's the spin of reviewers. Everyone in the scene looks happy. Someone said Dad looks angry all the time. No - he does not. He is smiling EXCEPT when the sister is running her mouth without letting anyone else talk; the brother is describing a fight, or the children are fighting. Who would NOT be unhappy and stressed sharing a dinner table with people who do those things? It's normal for a parent to be unhappy with children fighting, hogging the conversation or grossing people out at the dinner table. This father's not a monster - just a normal person who doesn't want a helping of gore or gossip with his dinner.
And I watched it and don't see anywhere where the narrator says, 'You should lie' to maintain peace in the family. 'Be your best self at the dinner table' is civilized advice. You'd do it if you went out with friends - are family not worth the same respect and courtesy? You should be boring, disgusting, or aggressive with family, but put on good manners for strangers? The hypocrisy in the reviews lies with the reviewers, who seem to think that behaving in a civilized manner, with 'warmth and gentleness' to your family is somehow bad. Maybe that's why we have a country full of people who don't know how to behave with warmth and gentleness to strangers. They never learned it at home.
It's a fact - research shows it - that having pleasant family meals together does, indeed, build healthy families and foster good memories. It's simply always been a mark of civilized manners to keep unpleasant discussions, arguments and so on away from the dinner table. Nothing ruins a meal like a family fighting. And it's also true that it's bad for your digestion to be in a state of stress and anger while eating.
But in a country where people eat 'meals' while driving and engaging in road-rage at the same time, and sitting down to a family meal is a thing of the past, these age-old civilized virtues are anathema. The barbarians are, indeed, at the gate. Thank God I left America and live in Central Europe, where people of all classes and economic backgrounds still value family meals, gracious civility and 'warmth and gentleness' whether at the family table or in public.
Now let's sit back and see how many people attack this review because they never learned manners at home, and feel safe attacking strangers in a public forum.
Subject: A true classic!
Subject: Noble LIE
Subject: Somewhere Over the Rainbow...
Subject: Watch the MST#K Version
Subject: Would to GOD
Subject: And we still wonder why hippies came into existence?
The father always appears ready to beat his kids within an inch of their life for doing things like hogging up the dinner conversation. Also the brother has to be the biggest tool I have ever seen. It's no surprise he got into a fight at school, it's just too bad the person didn't end his sorry life.
Overall this movie is just down right funny and outdated. In the beginning the narrator even feels that no one during his time does this. Come on, do you really think there was ever a family out there that was this nuts?
This is one of the saddest families I can think of. Nobody seems to like anybody else. The mother seems very left out, the father seems universally disliked, and he conversely has genuine distaste for the company of either of his teenage children. They are all portrayed some of the most unattractive actors in the history of cinema, not to mention the most gifted when it comes to scenery-chewing. The brother and sister seem to be competing for the "Bette Davis Atchievement in Over Acting Award," while the father is just pissed off. And junior? Well, he's like the mother: no close-ups, and every right to be cross about it.
Meanwhile the narrator reminds us: "You can be yourself at the dinner table. Just make sure it's your best self." 9/10
Subject: Family Dinner, A Lost Art
Subject: The Narrator
Subject: ... is a date with BOREDOM!!
Subject: Still a classic of unbelievable stature
Subject: A Date with Your Family
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****. Also available on Ephemeral Films, Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Episode #602: Invasion U.S.A., and Our Secret Century, Vol. 3: The Behavior Offensive.
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