Family Values

Two recent films have caused me much reflection. The first was the very popular Waiting to Exhale, featuring an all-star cast that included Whitney Houston, with a top-of-the-charts song and soundtrack. I won't attempt a review here, but it is the story of one failed personal relation-

ship after another in the lives of a close-knit circle of black professional women. In the end, all they have are each other. It attempts to be funny, moving, and quite profitably entertaining; the box office sales suggest that it succeeded.

I watched the movie with a professional woman, and we both left feeling quite distressed. The values portrayed in Waiting to Exhale are at the center of what is wrong with society today. The film is an endless procession of sexual promiscuity, personal irresponsibility, broken promises, and shattered dreams. The women involved are far from innocent victims-everybody is implicated in this painful and tragic picture of human relationships and families coming unraveled.

The first problem in the picture is what happens to the people themselves. Life is just a succession of changing bed partners with no enduring relationships. Trust, commitment, fidelity, stability, security, and real intimacy are all lost in the process. Empty lives result, which don't look very pretty even with the beautiful and scenic backdrop of affluent New Mexico "yuppydom." In a neighborhood like mine, in the inner city of Washington, D.C., the playing out of those values amid the stark realities of poverty is brutish and ugly.

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Sojourners Magazine May-June 1996
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