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Those of us who were not around in the 1950's are vaguely skeptical at the thought that the media and these sort of school movies could possibly be SO laden with gender stereotypes and that weird force of conformity... but here it is. Yikes. It's hard to believe these sorts of movies were ever even produced -- Mother and Sister change into their best dresses to be pleasant to look at for their men... and, of course, Mother and Sister are doing all the cooking and other dinner preparations while Brother does his homework [I guess Sister doesn't need good grades to land that husband someday] and Junior is off having fun... then Father comes home from a hard day at the office to enjoy some "pleasant" conversation with Brother and Junior... gag me! Glad I watched this on MST3K. That made it a little less terrifying that this sort of crap passed for education at one point in our history. Joel -- "'Dad, I had an emotion today' 'Well, stop that, Son'"
Another terrible short. I saw the so-called educational 'Mr. B Natural' and almost thought it was funny enough to recommend. This is one is just very bad. The narrator tells us how to behave when you have dinner with your family. The family shows us how it must be done and what can go wrong. Don't be emotional, don't talk all the time, wait until the mother starts eating. You understand this is not something I want to see again.
This is the classic example of behavioral control as effected through the medium of instructional film. It's hilarious and scary. My 10 rating isn't based on its achieving what it set out to do but on its sociocultural value now. The members of the family on the "date," allegorically named "Brother," "Sister," "Mother," and "Father," play out their parts in a dinner ritual that resembles a holodeck re-creation based on an extraterrestrial race's guesswork about human customs derived from etiquette books discovered among the ruins of Earth. Mother and Sister wear their best frocks to table to please the men; table talk is always to remain pleasant and inoffensive; the children are to behave "as though" they are pleased to see Father. The god-voice that imparts all this wisdom is of an authoritarian jollity that sums up the weird mixture of good will and ill nature that informs the whole piece. Anyone born after this film was made should see it (it's available online for free) and feel really really lucky.
... this one was way out there in left field.
One can only imagine the 1950s classrooms in which this film was shown ... full of glazed-eyed, snoring students. It conforms to the worst stereotypes of the era, one in which the menfolk engage in such manly, worthy pursuits as playing baseball, working as a professional and studying for college, while the womenfolk have no better raison d'etre than to look pretty and pleasant and pick flowers for the dinner table.
Beyond the stereotypes, though, consider that there was a production company out there which seriously thought -- and presumably justifiably so -- that there was a market for a ten minute educational film pushing no more important a message than making dinner time nice for the family. In the Pleasantville-land of the Fifties, that's a telling point.
This short does have some redeeming value. Getting the family to sit around the dinner table is a noble gesture. Still, I would rather have the family eating TV dinners on the couch than have to put up with the gender roles portrayed here. I really enjoy these kinds of movies because they give a great insight into the thinking of the time, but I doubt that there were many families who lived up to the ideal set forth in this film. If it appeared that they did, it was because father ruled with an iron fist. I've got two kids myself, and while they aren't always the best behaved, I refuse to rule my house through fear. Too bad they didn't have black neighbors, then we could have really seen how far we've come.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
*A Date With Your SPOILERS*
Brother and Sister have big stupid smiles on their faces; why? But because they're dining at home with Father, Mother and li'l bro Junior, of course! Yes, you heard me right. This is what they're all excited about, and the focus of this short.
This is possibly the worst short movie from the '50s (and that's saying something!), a terrifying praise of sexism, bigotism and unemotional conservatism (I cannot stress unemotional enough!).
I am certainly agape at the dementia shown in this (Sister and Mother change into their best clothes to give the men of the family something nice to look at (can you say 'incest'?), 'be yourself with your family, just be sure it's your best self' (and be sure no one knows the real you!), Sister obsesses with the flowers of a stupid centerpiece she created (seriously), the puzzling behaviour at the table (first Father, then Mother, then Sister, and lastly Brother and Junior... let's get the flow chart for this) and scary quotes such as 'Brother and Sister greet Dad as if they're genuinely glad to see him' (Because they aren't) 'Then helps Mother to her chair as he would his best girl' (EW)).
I just am really glad I didn't have to sit in class and watch this, because it's really terrifying, set in an atmosphere of control and repression.
It makes great MST3K fodder, though.
A Date With Your Family: 1/10.
I showed this in class for a project on the roles of women and how the stereotypes have changed I can honestly say that this may just be the funniest educational video I've ever seen. Some of the things that they say are valid for the present day, but most of it is stereotypical and just strange. It even suggests acting fake around your family to make it a more pleasant atmosphere, especially for Father. If you can't be yourself around your family, who can you be yourself around? I love the fact that Sister moves her centrepiece to the side table because its too big. Sister is the one who puts her clothing and others down. Brother only talks about fighting at the dinner table. Mother must knit or do something relaxing for father. I can't believe they actually made kids watch this in school and expected them to actually listen to it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't know what you consider a spoiler, so for all I know, this comment
might contain some.
This one is so 50's, when everybody was supposed to have the perfect nuclear family. If you are unsure of how to do this, watch this short, preferably on MST3K.
Mike: "Dad, I'm dating a Negro."
This short is one of the many old shorts to give you proper table
etiquette. All this is, is a 10 minute short where a narrator talks as
a family eats dinner and shows the do's and don'ts of eating dinner. It
was a bad short in the 1950's, and it's even worse now. I personally
find it hilarious, but that doesn't save it from a 1 rating. It just
seems like this short is pointless. I don't know of any family who
wants to watch a short film on family dining to learn how to eat
dinner. Plus the narration is really corny, and poorly written. You can
find this short on MST3K, so watch it, it's so bad it's hilarious.
My rating: 1/2 out of ****. 10 mins.
This short 1950 instructional film talks about how to make the evening meal
go well with your family. I'm sure it was much better when viewed when
released. These days, it's just plain boring. Some of the sequences where
they talk about what not to do during the evening meal are a little
unintentionally funny. Overall, however, this short is just plain boring
Look ma, another #1!
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