Steven Crowder dips his toes into the Casey Anthony post-mortem pool with this question: “When did one’s personal happiness become the ultimate value?” Maybe it’s just my age, but I’d say that the answer is … the 1970s. Remember the “Me Generation”? As Steven points out in his own inimitable manner, we haven’t left behind the laser focus on The Big Me, culturally speaking, since then. It wasn’t until the late 60s and 70s that we began, as a culture, celebrate those who went to go “find themselves” despite having left commitments like marriage and parenthood in their wake. Steven ties together unfit, selfish mothers like Casey Anthony, films like Eat Pray Love, and Anthony Weiner as cautionary tales on the decline towards amorality:
Speaking of films, has anyone but me noticed the recurrence in romantic comedies of leaving a bride or groom either literally at the altar or figuratively simply because of an infatuation with someone else? It’s the most puerile form of “finding one’s self” in films, where the protagonist doesn’t even have the excuse of being burdened by years of responsibility and disillusionment before seeking escape. From The Graduate to Serendipity and beyond, filmmakers have asked us to applaud the breaking of a covenant simply because the protagonist got turned on, although in The Graduate there was at least some symbolic value (moving from childhood to adulthood) to the conclusion.
I don’t necessarily believe that Casey Anthony is representative of millions of mothers, as Steven says, even if she didn’t kill her child. But there are certainly many who fit the bill of self-absorbed parents of both genders whose own focus is on their own happiness rather than on their own children. There are more politicians than just Anthony Weiner who use their positions of power more for pick-up lines and self-aggrandizement than spending their efforts on defending freedom and liberty. And perhaps we have had similar proportions of both throughout the ages and we’re simply discovering them more because of the greater efficiency of the media and the involved public. But it certainly seems that we’re seeing more of both, and that might be because we don’t demand that people adhere to standards of honor and decency — and that we’re celebrating traditional values much less than their opposite.