Tag Archives: Kramer vs Kramer

The new “Marriage Story” movie is a false picture of divorce

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

I think Sean McDowell is the best scholar to recommend to people who are interested in getting better at defending their faith. He has a splendid wide-reaching worldview, and conservative positions on controversial issues that other apologists won’t touch. He tweeted out a very interesting article from Suzanne Venker, where she reviews a new movie.

You might remember that Suzanne Venker is a pro-marriage writer who thinks that radical feminism has harmed women, and discouraged men from marrying. Here is what she had to say about the new feminist movie “Marriage Story” in The Federalist.

“Marriage Story” is billed as an intense drama about a stage director [Charlie] and his actor wife [Nicole] “who struggle through a grueling, coast-to-coast divorce that pushes them to their personal and creative extremes.” Although the couple has an 8-year-old son, the focus of the film is… about Nicole’s feelings, Nicole’s choices, Nicole’s needs, and Nicole’s desires. Charlie just goes along for the ride. What choice does he have? Based on a 2017 report by Stanford’s Michael Rosenfeld, this story seems to align with divorce trends, as women initiate 69 percent of divorces in the United States.

Indeed, “Marriage Story” is a predictable feminist screed. Its message couldn’t have been more glaring if it tried: Marriage is a jail sentence for women. If you’re not happy, leave. Oh, and take the kid with you. And while you’re at it, you might as well sabotage your husband’s livelihood, forcing him to uproot the life you both built and move across the country in order to be able to see his son for half the amount of time he normally would, thereby irrevocably altering the course of this father-son relationship — particularly since Nicole’s new man has entered the equation.

[…]What you won’t learn is that “Marriage Story” beautifully demonstrates the madness of modern-day childhood. No one’s supposed to mention that because to look at what’s happened between Charlie and Nicole through Henry’s eyes would destroy the narrative. To focus on what writer and director Noah Baumbach wanted to — “telling a love story by doing it in the course of a divorce” — it is crucial to dismiss Henry’s needs, because to a child, divorce is no love story.

By the way, speaking of children’s rights, parents should definitely read Katy Faust’s latest article in The Federalist.

I wanted to suggest a much better movie about divorce than “Marriage Story”. When I was young, I went through this phase of wanting to grow up very fast. I just could not stand being around people my own age, with their obsessions with popularity and fun. So, I got myself a white collar job and started renting every classic movie in the movie rental place. Two of my favorites were “Kramer vs Kramer” and “Ordinary People”. They made much better movies back then. Kramer vs Kramer is the one about divorce which I think accurately portrays the effects of divorce on children.

Here is the summary from the far-left Wikipedia: (I’m leaving out the ending)

Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) is a workaholic advertising executive who has just been assigned a new and very important account. Ted arrives home and shares the good news with his wife Joanna (Meryl Streep) only to find that she is leaving him. She leaves Ted to raise their son Billy (Justin Henry) by himself. Ted and Billy initially resent one another as Ted no longer has time to carry his increased workload, and Billy misses his mother’s love and attention. After months of unrest, Ted and Billy learn to cope and gradually bond as father and son.

Ted befriends his neighbor Margaret (Jane Alexander), who had initially counseled Joanna to leave Ted if she was that unhappy. Margaret is a fellow single parent, and she and Ted become kindred spirits. One day, as the two sit in the park watching their children play, Billy falls off the jungle gym, severely cutting his face. Ted sprints several blocks through oncoming traffic carrying Billy to the hospital, where he comforts his son during treatment.

Fifteen months after she walked out, Joanna returns to New York to claim Billy, and a custody battle ensues. During the custody hearing, both Ted and Joanna are unprepared for the brutal character assassinations that their lawyers unleash on the other. Margaret is forced to testify that she had advised an unhappy Joanna to leave Ted, though she also attempts to tell Joanna on the stand that her husband has profoundly changed. Eventually, the damaging facts that Ted was fired because of his conflicting parental responsibilities which forced him to take a lower-paying job come out in court, as do the details of Billy’s accident.[3] His original salary was noted as “$33,000 a year” (equivalent to $114,000 in 2018), whereas he was forced to admit that his new salary was only “$28,200” (equivalent to $97,000 in 2018), after Joanna has told the court that her “present salary” as a sportswear designer is “$31,000 a year”.[3]

The court awards custody to Joanna, a decision mostly based on the Tender years doctrine. Ted discusses appealing the case, but his lawyer warns that Billy himself would have to take the stand in the resulting trial. Ted cannot bear the thought of submitting his child to such an ordeal, and decides not to contest custody.

I come from a legal immigrant family of non-whites, and there just WAS no divorce anywhere in our family. We’re half Muslim and half Hindu, and we just don’t divorce. There was a lot of fighting in my family growing up, but divorce was out of the question for my parents. But I remember having to deal with the violent tempers of boys in my public schools who had divorced parents. Divorce really hurt those kids. That’s why I try to blog about it here – the Bible is against divorce, and I want to explain to Christians why God’s rules against divorce ought to be respected.

I’m not going to link to studies here about how divorce affects children, because I’ve done that in other places. I just wanted to let you know that feminism is strong in our culture, and they want to make divorce into a creative adventure. Don’t let movies sway you away from what the Bible teaches. And when you defend what the Bible teaches about divorce, make sure you have the facts about radical feminism’s promotion of divorce and how divorce affects men and children.