This evening read an interesting article from the New York Times by Julie Just called, “The Parent Problem in Young Adult Lit.” Reminded me of something I wrote years ago about the dearth of positive parent figures, particularly fathers, in television and movies. Just’s article seems to focus mostly on mothers, and I found her look interesting. She doesn’t appear to have as big a problem as I do with so many books having parents who are crazy, absent, abusive, or self-absorbed. But she doesn’t applaud this either. I do wish she’d mentioned the excellent novels by Madeleine L’Engle, where the parents are flawed but still in authority (without having to be overbearing or dictatorial) and still worthy of respect.
There are a great many aspects of life that we, as a society, seem impelled to take an either/or approach to, and how to draw parental figures is one of them. Why we cannot, in all forms of art, have more mothers and fathers who are real, and who do the best they can despite the whining and selfishness of so many television fed teens, is beyond the scope of my understanding.
Don’t tell me it isn’t possible, that it won’t sell if the parents are too real and if they are right most of the time. I’ve seen it work over and over.