The second cultural event of importance is also a film Cinema Verité, a fictionalised account of the behind the scenes of the original reality TV experience An American Family in 1973. A decade later I argued at the Henley International management course that the development of the Internet would expand the reality experience idea in all aspects of human life and its condition, from bed room to bathroom. I did not know how right I was to prove.
The 12 part TV series caused considerable controversy after the family had been billed as the archetypal American Dream family. The eldest son left the family to live in New York and admitted to being gay, the first such admission on USA TV. The wife asked her husband to leave and divorce after 21 years of marriage. The main controversy was on the extent to which the show could be said to be reality because of the editing of the months of filming and that it was impossible for people not to act out and react to the presence of the camera.
The film proved an engaging and impressive portrayal of the reality difference between how the USA likes to perceive itself and really is through the behaviour of the wife, Pat Loud who has invested heavily in her children, her home and local community because her husband Bill is constantly away alleging managing his business interests which enable the family to live in a large house with outdoor swimming pool and all the latest gadgets and symbols of material affluence. In fact as she find with the help of the TV series Director, her husband has had a series of mistresses taking them away on holidays lavishing his time as well as money. His children have to cope with the insecurity which the break up engenders although his financial circumstances are such that they are able to continue in their former lifestyle.
Tim Robbins is excellent and the hypocritical husband with Diane Lane as the wife. The great surprise of the film was the casting of James Gandolfini, Tony Soprano in the Sopranos as the film Director. There was no hint of the gangster in this character study barely recognisable in a beard and having lost substantial weight. The film revealed how driven by the corporate pressures for rating and the financial outlay over a million dollars, the Director had misled the couple about how they would portrayed and he had the four children, three sons and a daughter. Once they family realised how they were being shoen and the hostility which resulted they went on the offensive uniting in order to counter the reaction and explain why they had participated and what had happened. In this they were supported by the film crew, a young couple who became Hollywood film makers. They protested about the bending of ethical standards. The family were successful in this with all members gaining reputations and can be said positions as a consequence. The eldest son Lance became something of a cult hero among the gay community and at his requested he was filmed during his final days arising from HIV infection and AIDS. His last wish was for his parents together. His father had remained and also divorced for a second time. The parents have remained together since that time living close to their children so that it can be said that far from breaking hem it has made them stringer individually and collectively. In this respect I suspect they were lucky with the parents being people of substance before the intrusion and having given more to their children than is often portrayed by family of material wealth and social standing.