It’s a continual lament around our house — there are so few films that are suitable for young children. My mother-in-law likes to take her grandkids to the movies, but it’s hard to find ones that we feel are acceptable. Being animated doesn’t automatically mean a film is okay for the little ones. Even Disney films are, in our house, “for big kids” because of the violence and gender stereotypes. So when a state decides to offer a tax credit for “family-friendly” films being made there, it sounds like an idea long overdue.
The problem is, however, what exactly constitutes “family-friendly”? I am well aware that my views on how much violence is acceptable are rather extreme but that my indifference to nudity is also unusual. Republican lawmakers in Florida are working on a $75 million incentive package to lure the film and television industry to the state to create jobs along with their movies and shows. The Package includes a tax credit for kids’ movies but excludes productions with “nontraditional family values.”
No one — including the bill’s sponsor, Stephen Precourt — is really sure what that means, but many are worried that it could be used to deny the credit to shows that depict single-parent and LGBT families. Precourt, obviously a fan of The Andy Griffith Show (and, frankly, who isn’t?), could only say “Think of it as like Mayberry.” Noting that he grew up in the 1960’s when the show was aired, he added “That’s what life was like. I want Florida to be known for making those kinds of movies: Disney movies for kids and all that stuff. Like it used to be, you know?”
Only the problem is that the world isn’t like Mayberry any more; perhaps it never was. As Dana Rudolph of the website Mombian points out, “according to the 2000 U.S. Census, less than 25% of all families in the U.S. consist of a married, opposite-sex couple living with their own (biological or adopted) children.” So a family with two dads, or a single-parent family are right out. What about interracial marriages? Before Loving v. Virginia in 1967, mixed-race couples were prohibited by law from getting married in 16 states; certainly such unions are “non-traditional”. Even my own parents’ marriage — between a Jew and a Catholic — was fairly non-traditional.
Now, lest you think that this is much ado over nothing and that no one really thinks that way, consider the governor’s take on the matter: “Let me define it in the positive,” said Governor Charlie Crist. “A traditional family is a marriage between a man and a woman. That’s traditional.” I would remind Governor Crist and Representative Precourt that Andy Griffith’s Sheriff Taylor was a single father — and a fairly non-traditional one at that.