Hollywood Contributing to Divorce Conversation

  • Public celebrity divorces like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and Chris Rock and Malaak Compton-Rock, have contributed to the divorce conversation.
  • Movies like "Boyhood" and shows like "Louie" continue to show the realism of life after divorce.
  • In looking to portray the realism of divorce, Hollywood is shaping the perception of the institution to a modern audience.

Divorce, as a concept, can be a bit polarizing. Many still view it as an institution that damages marriage and creates conflict within society. Even though the reality may be drastically different, it is important to remember how individuals got those types of perceptions.

One of the larger and more influential methods in today’s society is through pop culture. Whether it is online, on television, in movies, in books, or through some other medium, pop culture and Hollywood have shaped many an area of thought, and divorce is no exception.

Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, and Chris Rock

Whether it is a tabloid divorce that makes headlines like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, or a divorce that is worked into the comedy routine of a stand-up tour like Chris Rock, divorce is a topic that has permeated entertainment and created a conversation between how they are dealing with their divorce and those that also are experiencing a divorce, as well.

These types of divorces dive into issues that anyone can relate to. Many spouses clash, with regard to parenting strategies. It is a commonplace problem that can create dissonance and distance between co-parents, as well as cause confusion among the children, according to Psychology Today.

Similarly, this was stated as a point of contention in the divorce between Pitt and Jolie. Pitt had referenced how he was often looked at as the tougher parent, who was forced to discipline his sons more often than Jolie.

Drawing similar parallels are Chris Rock and his struggles with fidelity in his marriage. Fidelity is a concept that many spouses struggle with. While there is a perception that men cheat more often than women, due to the perceived ability to separate emotions from sex, that is not necessarily the case.

Infidelity is not exclusive to any gender. In fact, 57 percent of men have admitted to cheating on a significant other in a relationship they’ve had, and 54 percent of women have admitted the same. The numbers widen slightly when marriage is added into the situation with 22 percent of married men admitting to straying, while 14 percent of women admit the same.

For Chris Rock, he has admitted his faults in marriage and in his relationship with ex-wife Malaak Compton-Rock. In his current comedy act, he talks about his divorce and how he thought that because he considered himself the breadwinner of the family, that he could get away with his infidelity and bad behavior. He said that the opposite actually is true and that his faults are magnified because of how high of an opinion your significant other has of you.

These types of conversations have not been left only to celebrities. Divorce has been a constant source for stories that continue the conversation of where it is going and how anyone can be affected by it.

Richard Linklater and “Boyhood”

In Richard Linklater’s Oscar-nominated film, “Boyhood,” he portrays two children having to deal with their parents’ divorces and subsequent remarriages. In doing so, Linklater was able to address his childhood struggles with his own father not living in the same house as him.

“Remember, this is the ’60s, so [divorce] was rare,” said Linklater.  “I moved to a small town eventually, and I was the only kid in my class, out of all of the classes, that had divorced parents.. Eventually, others ‘caught up,’ but I was feeling ashamed that my dad wasn’t living with us. People would say, ‘Hey, I’ve been over to your house and I’ve never seen your dad.’ And I’d say, ‘Oh he’s working. I just couldn’t say, ‘Oh he doesn’t live with us.’ ”

Louis C.K. and “Louie”

The FX Channel television show, “Louie,” details a fictional version of comedian Louis C.K., a newly divorced father of two daughters living in New York City. He talks about how being a father has helped him better his own life, even after a divorce, a sentiment that he translates into his show.

“When I first got married and had kids, I had some friends played poker with on Mondays and I thought: The poker game on Mondays, that’s the water line,” said Louis C.K. “If I don’t make that game, I’m losing something. But then after a while I realized: Why would I want to go play poker with a bunch of guys in a smoky room when I could be at home with my family? I realized that a lot of the things that my kid was taking away from me, she was freeing me of. There was this huge pride in having a kid and also that I didn’t matter anymore. The greatest thing about having a child is putting yourself second in your own life. It’s a massive gift to be able to say you’re not the most important person to yourself.”

Honest and realistic portrayals

In seeking to portray honest and realistic families, Hollywood is looking to continue the conversation of what the DNA of the family concept entails. While it still can include the white picket fence and married couple with two children and a dog, it also can include a single dad raising his daughter and driving her to visit her mom on weekends. It also can include mom and dad remarried to other people attending a middle school graduation ceremony of their son. It can include a single man attempting to learn from his past transgressions.

Pop culture and Hollywood mediums have advocated these possibilities and created a level of social acceptance in what being a divorced parent or a divorced individual can entail and how one moves forward in their own life.

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