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Pink: Family Portrait
Album cut
From the CD M!ssundaztood

A psychoanalytic critique by psychologist Dr. Bruce L. Thiessen, a.k.a. Dr. B.L.T., the shrink rappin' rock doc. 

Mama please stop cryin, I can't stand the sound
Your pain is painful and it's tearin' me down
I hear glasses breakin' as I sit up in my bed
I told dad you didn't mean those nasty things you said..”
I'm an incurable optimist, but I must admit, what life has to offer is not always the greatest thing since sliced bread. Every time I read the words of Jesus, the man who miraculously multiplied a few loaves and fishes to feed the masses, where he says, "Man cannot live on bread alone," I begin to realize that bread, even when it's sliced, really never was the greatest thing. Even those Maple Oat Nut Scones they serve at Starbucks, in all of their glory and splendor, ultimately leave a person wanting more. It is a sad truism that life often feeds us a strife sandwich and we ultimately lose our lunch in the process. 

A child sandwiched between dysfunctional parents is often driven into the role of mediator. A teen in between a broken promise and a broken dream feels compelled to soothe the strife and silence the screams. The driving force? Fear of divorce, of course! Divorce disrupts and destroys the dreams of children. The choice is a painful but simple one for a child facing the menacing prospect of an incomplete set of parents. It's mediation or madness. No child should be forced into this role. Yet the harsh reality of “Love on the Rocks” often takes on a life (and ultimately a death) of its own. 

You fight about money, ‘bout me and my brother
And this I come home to, this is my shelter
It ain't easy growin' up in World War III
Never knowin' what love could be, you'll see
I don't want love to destroy me like it has done my family...

Can we work it out? Can we be a family?
I promise I'll be better. Mommy I'll do anything
Can we work it out? Can we be a family?
I promise I'll be better, Daddy please don't leave... 

Pink's “Family Portrait” is about "what is" and what "could be." But there's a big IF stuck right in the middle of "what is" and "what could be." There's also a great deal of dysfunction, animosity and what appears to be irreparably damaged emotions on both sides of the marital equation. It all adds up to intense pain and suffering, and nobody knows pain like a child. 

Pink has never been afraid to show her true colors. That's what differentiates a Britney Spears from a Pink. Pink tells it like it is. Britney tells it like we would like it to be, but "it" invariably has a dollar sign attached to it. 

Though they are anything but sweet, Pink's colors run deep on “Family Portrait.” This is as real as it gets. The haunting, yet urgently importuning nature of the music matches and magnifies the meaning. The intensity of every earnest guitar strum and run echoes the sense of longing for familial harmony expressed in the chorus. Pink's voice on “Family Portrait” further reflects the urgency underlying the song.

In our family portrait, we look pretty happy
Let's play pretend, let's act like it comes naturally
I don't want to split the holidays
I don't want two addresses
I don't want a step-brother anyways
And I don't want my mom to have to change her last name...
The child depicted here has falsely assigned the blame to herself. I promise I'll be better! It's sadly common for children to blame themselves for marriages that are failing and to perceive themselves as the locus of control for resolving the conflict. This faulty attribution is a hasty hypothesis rendered as a desperate attempt to gain some sense of control over an increasingly chaotic and uncontrollable situation.
Mom will be nicer
I'll be so much better, I'll tell my brother
Oh, I won't spill the milk at dinner
I'll be so much better, I'll do everything right
I'll be your little girl forever 
I'll go to sleep at night...
The song offers a perspective that demands attention. “Family Portrait” allows divorce to be seen through the eyes of a child. This is bound to expand the horizon of any parent(s) in the process of considering divorce. 

A child should be seen, not heard! This is oft cited as representative of parental logic of yore. Yet there is nothing logical about it. In “Family Portrait,” Pink's picture paints a thousand words of pain. In the process, Pink gives a child back her silenced voice. Empowering a child who feels powerless can't be a bad thing. Offering a child's perspective can be the greatest gift an artist can offer marriage partners who find themselves sinking in the turbulent waters of marital turmoil. Pink offers realistic set of contrasting images of "what is" and "what could be."

I have some advice for all those "married with children." Before looking into the camera, take a good look at your marriage and then your child. If you're marriage is sick, please, seek help for your disease before looking into the camera and saying "Cheese!"  But where does one find help? Well, its best to establish a rather comprehensive support system, especially in times of hardship.  That support system could include friends, family members, and a professional therapist and/or minister.   Above all--don't forget to turn to your own personal Jesus.  After all, when a picture has become less then picture-perfect, why submit it to the one and only master of picture and relationship restoration?  Get the picture? Pink does--at least a big part of it.  And, judging by the sound of “Family Portrait,” she's becoming quite an articulate auditory photographer of the mind. 


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