I am never going to find the time to write that polished, brilliant critique of the Rosie Family is a Family is a Family movie. So I'll just keep it short and sweet.
Problem One: Unless I missed it, the film contained not ONE single mention of race. There were loads of colorful examples of interracial families both by marriage and birth and by adoption, but not one single mention of this or why it might require discussion. It was the typical White Liberal colorblind approach to the topic of race which--have we not learned by now--is the wrong approach.
When a film sets itself up as an unwincing account of the beauty of family difference and variety, not mentioning that families can contain people of different races--and discussing that--is a glaring oversight. The film discusses single-parent, same-sex parent, ART, internationally and domestically adoptive families but not one word is spoken about race. This is just more confirmation of my theory that absolutely no topic makes Americans more uncomfortable.
If you can ask a little girl to talk about her abandonment, institutionalization and adoption, it seems you can broach the topic of how it feels to be the black child of two white men, right?
Problem Two: The "science experiment" animation of IVF was...unspeakably awful? Children born of ART aren't "science experiments" any more than children born to women who took prenatal multivitamins are. I can't imagine how I would feel about that segment if I had A) used IVF to conceive my children or B) was conceived that way, myself. I thought it was flat-out offensive. Not to mention the brief gloss of fertility challenges at the beginning in which the miserable infertile couple are sitting woefully on opposite ends of a couch as if they might as well just kill themselves as live without children. Ugh.
Problem Three: I found the parroting by children of grownup explanations of various family forms really annoying. It reminds me of the times I hear other same-sex parents, or adoptive parents talk about how their kids have "no problem at all!" with their family differences; how they willingly volunteer the story of their family to strangers with pride, etc. Sure, your kid under five is going to repeat whatever you've told her about the family and its meaning. But much older than that (or even younger than that, but repressed), and these children will have their own complicated feelings which I can't help but worry will be shut down by all this "a family is love!" platitudinizing (yes, that's a word, I just invented it).
Sure, a family is love. But kids still live in a world in which there's a lot more than love--and more than family, for that matter--influencing their daily experiences of life. A loving family will be a place where it is safe to air the difficulties that arise from being different without fear of upsetting your parents who have been declaring those differences don't matter in a way that begs the question "don't they protest a bit too much?"
The only thing that salvaged the film for me were the musical performances by kids and their families. Nat loved that bit and it was cute and well done. But our kids need meat and potatoes, not cotton candy fluff when it comes to negotiating their differences from the mainstream culture, if they are to learn real pride and real spokesmanship for what matters in a family.