New roles are now defined with a working mother, a father and a child. The mother is no longer just a stay at home mom but she is now an equal bread winner (Coontz, 2000).
Even though family roles have shifted considerably, the theme of childhood and family has remained fairly prevalent in movies over the years. What we see on screens is either what was, or what is in terms of family roles and behavior. Even the best of fiction needs a base on which to build upon. As Gillis (1996) observed, family life is the new form of entertainment in the modern world. All parts of family pervade the movie scene and it would seem that the modern script writer is always on the lookout for new stories to base a new movie on. It’s no longer debatable that the themes of family and childhood permeate contemporary film today. However, what is often not considered is just how much these themes permeate contemporary cinema.
Inflation, urban sprawl and population increase in the early 1990s is what likely pushed stay at home moms to the market place (Dryden, 1999). This paradigm shift was also translated into film as seen in the introduction of working mothers as opposed to the stay at home mothers. The working class women betrayed the traditional loyalty to their husbands since they were no longer the sole bread winners. These women started to compete with their men on various family issues. Men felt a bruise on their egos and reacted with violence, as seen in The Burning Bed (1984).
This marked the origin of domestic violence in cinemas. Marriages started to break up and children had to be raised by their step fathers and step mothers. These children were shown to lack proper guidance from their half parents and adopted bad behaviors and became violent as well. In 1996, the US government did a survey on the characteristics of the modern day family and the findings were grave. The research concluded that there had been serious anti-family downward