Family Values, Image Sought

by Harry on August 7, 2007

You can help! I’m giving a brownbag talk at UW Madison’s Center for the Humanities in December, and the administrator, despite knowing me well enough to know that I have no aesthetic or design sense at all, has asked me for an image to go on the poster for my talk. The title is “What so great about the family anyway?”, and the description is as follows:

The phrase “family values” is often associated with a conservative political agenda, and liberals, committed as they are to ideals of personal freedom, have tended to shy away from being judgmental about the different familial arrangements people choose. Recent work in egalitarian political philosophy has focussed on the moral justification of the family; what “family values” are actually justified? Harry Brighouse will talk about this work, showing that there is interesting common ground between some conservatives and some egalitarians, and will discuss the significance of abstract theorising about values for family policy.

So far, we have between us come up only with three flippant ideas, based on very quick googling, but worth sharing: the Reagans; the Bushes; and these guys. Any better ideas? In deference to my lack of good sense, it would be kind to flag flippancy.



SamChevre 08.07.07 at 8:35 pm

How about the picture from wikipedia of Sly and the Family Stone?

On the topic, rather than the poster–I hope you post an excerpt.


Kman 08.07.07 at 8:38 pm

Are you looking for flippant?

I’m not sure it necessarily reflects on your subject matter, but it seems like anything “Simpsons” these days will be an attention-grabber (if you’re truly interested in plugging the gig).

Don’t know what to tell you about the intellectual property police, though.

FWIW, I googled “simpsons family portrait” and discovered this.


KT 08.07.07 at 8:44 pm

Ma Barker and her boys? The Dalton, Younger and/or James Brothers?

Mrs. Bates (you know, Norman’s mom!) from “Psycho?”

Maybe some delightful bug that eats its own children?

Ah, so many heartwarming images…


C S 08.07.07 at 8:47 pm

You should have your colleague Denny draw something. Back when he was in charge of departmental colloquia, he drew something for each speaker. They were great.


Joel Turnipseed 08.07.07 at 8:58 pm

Well, there’s this:

Or you could use the SNL skit parody or the Albert Brooks parody or… well, you probably shouldn’t use any of these.

The best–serious–image you could use would be to find some family that ambiguously showed happiness and/or tragedy just off frame: a family at a barbecue or on vacation, father with a beer in his hand, mom with a drink, kids about to jump into the pool or off the boat, shot and developed (or, nowdays, Photoshopped) so as to be somewhat discolored (or even: shot with tilt-shift photography:


sakljf 08.07.07 at 9:17 pm

Is “freedom from want” too trite? That’s what I immediately thought of.


Mike Otsuka 08.07.07 at 11:44 pm

Maybe this?


grackle 08.07.07 at 11:50 pm

kittens, this calls for kittens.


pete 08.07.07 at 11:54 pm

How about this?


Mike Otsuka 08.08.07 at 12:04 am

Or this.


engels 08.08.07 at 12:21 am

Maybe this?


Doctor Slack 08.08.07 at 12:34 am



Ted 08.08.07 at 12:53 am

I’ve never seen the show, but would a picture of The Sopranos be suitable?


vivian 08.08.07 at 1:09 am

The New Yorker ( is always a good source for images – tastefully (or at least pretentiously) flippant: family values for dummies or rethinking family values or the unexpected joys of parenting. I can also think of a couple of relevant Dilbert cartoons, but they’re in books, not online.

Or less flippant, but potentially ironic, like a catalog shot of some artwork, like one of these sculptures (that was merely the top google hit, zillions of similar things).


vivian 08.08.07 at 1:10 am

my favorite is comment #1 though.


jacob 08.08.07 at 2:57 am

This is off topic, but I couldn’t help but notice that the first cartoon in comment 14–this–is described on the site as a man reading a book called “family values for dummies” but in fact the book is labeled quite clearly as “moral values for dummies.” It’s very odd.


Helen 08.08.07 at 3:25 am

I’m thinking of one of those ’50s pictures similar to those James Lileks features in his Institute of Official Cheer. I don’t think he takes too kindly to people using his images, but you could always ask.


R Hayes 08.08.07 at 3:42 am

Perhaps something from Dickens — like Dotheboys Hall?


lindsey 08.08.07 at 4:02 am

How bout the this one of the Duggars? (though I think this picture is 3-4 kids short of today’s count)


Bruce Baugh 08.08.07 at 4:04 am

World War II posters might be handy.


c.l. ball 08.08.07 at 5:43 am


Chris Bertram 08.08.07 at 7:01 am

The Munsters?


glenn 08.08.07 at 9:41 am

The Simpsons.

Either that, or I’d juxtapose and mix images with alot of “famous” families: The Simpsons, the Huxtables, The Bunkers, maybe The Cunninghams.


Ciarán 08.08.07 at 9:54 am

Slightly obscure, perhaps, but can there be a better statement of family values than this?

Unless, of course, populism was the way to go.


MR. Bill 08.08.07 at 10:28 am

Maybe : the Fred Phelps family in an outing…


JP Stormcrow 08.08.07 at 11:04 am

I assume that all “Simpsons” references are to the cartoon Simpsons.


Mike Otsuka 08.08.07 at 11:15 am


stuart 08.08.07 at 11:19 am

Don’t most of the suggestions being made have copyright issues?


sharon 08.08.07 at 12:40 pm

This family dysfunctional enough for you? Or this one?

Hey, you can’t beat the British royal family’s values, and they’ve got centuries of practice.


JP Stormcrow 08.08.07 at 12:51 pm

In the spirit of John Quiggin’s new post above and our ongoing dark humor – here’s one.


Doctor Slack 08.08.07 at 2:26 pm

There’s always the Royle family.


notsneaky 08.08.07 at 7:37 pm

So far, “Saturn devouring his children” is in first place. King Lear and Darth are tied for second.


sakljf 08.08.07 at 9:07 pm

I voted for Rockwell above, but on second thought there has got to be some incredibly appropriate still from The Lion in Winter. The best I could find was this:


Voice of Reason 08.09.07 at 4:20 am

The Griffin Family from “Family Guy”, of course.


e julius drivingstorm 08.09.07 at 7:15 am

Something from Garrison Keillor


Jim Johnson 08.09.07 at 4:20 pm


There is a sweet pic of the CLinton’s Hillary on the leftChelsea in the middle and Bill on the right all holding hands and strolling witht he pooch in the NY Times recently (a profile on Chelsea). It might be best since all families are dysfunctional in some of the ways they are!


harry b 08.09.07 at 8:15 pm

Tentative promise to vivian and samchevre — I’ll try to write a draft of the presentation and post it here beforehand. I’ll also link to whatever final poster we come up with. My inclination is very much with the Nomran Rockwell — there’s a lovely Christmassy one in the top corner of the second page of the family collection, suitable for december. But I also like the freedom from want suggestion and the munsters (too obscure I suspect), and the clintons for that matter (as a suggestion, not the clintons themselves for whom I have no fond feelings). Further suggestions still welcome!


aa 08.10.07 at 3:06 am

If it’s going to be Rockwell then this one.

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