In the last ten years of American history, there have been many milestones, events, and trends that have shaped American history. Not only did it shape history, but it changed how the American family lived. Examples such as the 9/11 attacks and new technological advancements have prompted serious and emotional conversations among family members and is considered important to cultural historians on how to understand the current mythologies of family. Aside from the ideal decade of the 1950s, the idea of family has changed in the twenty-first century because of new trends and recent events that set to define what family is really about.
One event in the last ten years that most people would think about is the September 11th attacks at New York. It was a very horrific day in American history and in that tragedy the mythology of family changed forever. Apart from the nuclear family that Stephanie Coontz described for the 1950s , there is no more a quiet suburbia as described in television shows. In reality, some families are rather dysfunctional due to personal drama. However, after 9/11, families started to realize that in their possible last moments on earth, they may not have a chance to say goodbye to their loved ones. Cultural historians might consider this very important because horrible catastrophes that happen in a nation can affect a family and everyone else as well. When author Gary Soto described his experience about desiring a perfect family, he didn’t mention how any event from the 50s or 60s affected his life or those around him. It was mostly on how he wanted to find work and better his life. Nevertheless, 9/11 changed everything and the American family became more courageous and wiser.
Mythologies are not only a tactical intervention into current cultural theory but also aspires to define a new discipline. It wants to escalate the riskiness of cultural analysis, to remind us that reading practices can be radical and audacious enterprises . What it means is that what we create about anything that is meant to inspire others can lead to the realization of what truth is and not becoming a slave to the fantasy world. Television before the twenty-first century wanted to create a world in which good triumphs over evil, any situations can be comedic with a moral twist, and love was inevitable. As people changed, so did the entertainment world, along with such as 9/11, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, and etc. Television programs have become more deeper and more thoughtful because of recent events that affected everyone. Entertainment have also been affected by the recent events and use it with little touch of fantasy to reach the audience in understanding their vision of how America has changed.
Familes are always interested in the education of their children and the mental stability that they handle in school. However, tragedy has always struck any school in the United States. Examples of school tragedies were the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 and the Virginia tech shootings in 2007. Average students pushed to the limits suddenly create a national uproar and tragedy ensues. These events led families to keep a closer eye on their children and their activities. Cultural historians should note that incidents at school could define how families raise their children and how it could affect others. In television shows, school is envisioned as a utopia with different social statuses getting along. In reality, cool people reign while the intelligent students are at the bottom, which creates hatred and a loss of self-esteem. So parents better be aware of who their children hang out with.
Technology is another important aspect in the idea of change in family. Cell phones, computers, television, etc. are changing every year. For example, when the cell phone was introduced, it was big and looked very unusual. But, as the years progressed, the cell phones became more smaller, slick, and stylish. Now cell phones offer texting and internet service with videos and GPS navigation. These Apple IPhones are the newest trends in technology and everyone in the family has one and it will soon be in every ones hands. However, it will soon die out and a new, faster, and smarter phone will arise one day. Everybody in the family has a cell phone to stay in touch with each other have information if something is urgent, or seal business deals. Computers have changed also for families not just for the internet and e-mail but also the web cam is becoming popular. Fathers or sons in the army now use web cams to talk to their family when serving their country. Web cams can also be used for other more romantic purposes or last moments. Television, technologically, has changed the American family as well. New features such as On-Demand and TiVo is growing rapidly but the cost is growing higher and choices are more this time around. However, advancement in technology has brought families together and sometimes can tear them apart. Mythologies of families such as the dad going to work, mom staying at home, and the kids at school. Everything is changing and everyone must have a cell phone.
Recently, the terrible situation with our economy is taking a toll on American families. Rising gas prices, higher food prices, and the recent crash in Wall Street and Washington Mutual is hurting the economy and families. The economics of the family is not blissful. We find the stability of the family being impaired by increases in human capital, by the secular rise in the value of human time, and by generous income transfers . Current mythology of American families suggest that they are economically secure and that they are rich. However, this proves to be false since many families are now struggling with the heartbreak of debt and keeping food on the table. The family is an essence a biological, cultural, legal, and economic institution. But we do not treat these characteristics of the family as an institution. The government treats families more or a business transaction than a commodity. The declining economy is fading and families are doing all they can to keep the budget on stalemate to keep saving their money.
The family as a biological, cultural, and legal entity has a long history in dealing with political and economic changes. The family in the Western world has been radically altered, some claim almost destroyed, by the events of the last ten years. However, not all is lost because we have a chance to change history. The American family has changed over the past decade due to life changing events and new trends that would eventually be replaced by others. The new idea about family is how they deal with each other as the years pass by and therefore we have the broke the mythology of the perfect nuclear family and shown our true colors.