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The Father and Family Harmony, The Contrast of Two Families, The Hierarchy and the Tribe


Robin Williams stars in the new comedy, RV, which appears at first glance to be just another "dysfunctional family takes a road trip and lives happily ever after" film.  However, underneath the crude humor and silly theatrics, RV explores three profound messages in a subtle and thought provoking way.

First Message:  The Father and Family Harmony

One of the early scenes captures the Munro family in their rented RV setting out on their family vacation.  Mother, daughter, and son are all plugged into their own electronic devices and singing their own songs, while father Bob grimaces and tries to shut out all the discordant noise.  He is not singing, and that is the point.  The father, who is supposed to be the leader, the head of the family to direct it and bring harmony within it, has abandoned the family for his work.  Left without a head and direction from that head, each member has gone their own way singing their own song.  It is no wonder alienation and discord exists amount them.

By the end of the movie, the Munro's are singing together, yet with unique parts.  Why?  The answer is that the father's restoration to the family has brought unity and harmony within the family.

Second Message:  The Contrast of Two Families

Early in their journey, the Munro family meets another RV family, the Gornickes.  This family is stereotyped as corny hillbillies, red-necked do-gooders, and miracle believing Christians.  If it were left at that, it would be the usual Hollywood insult.  Instead, the Gornickes are contrasted with the dysfunctional Munros.  The first thing this family demonstrates is how well they can sing --- together.

The contrast extends from the family itself to their respective RV's.  The Munros are driving a rented commercial covered, rundown vehicle filled with other people's excrement, which by the end of the journey is covered in slime.  The Gornickes own their shiny, sleek, red and white RV, and it is as custom as you can get. The not so subtle question that is being asked is, "Which vehicle would you rather travel through life in, the world's or the Christians?".

And last, but not least, the Munros find out that the weird, ignorant family they tried so hard to avoid is really very special.  They are intelligent and self-sacrificing people who go out of their way to help strangers and get them to where they really need to be.

Third Message:  The Hierarchy and the Tribe

Just as animals have a grouping in which they are designed to live1, human beings are designed by their Creator to live in tribes (Genesis 49:28, James 1:1). Unfortunately, most do not.  What has replaced the tribe is the hierarchy of "civilization".  Since this thought is foreign to most civilized" people, definitions of both are given below.  What is profound about RV is that it clearly demonstrates how one man, Bob Munro, leaves the hierarchy of his job and boss (Egypt/Pharaoh), passes through the wilderness, and finds real life in a tribal community.  The movie ends not with one family singing its song, but with a tribe singing their song.

Tribes:  A tribe is a coalition of people working together as equals to make a living.  Tribes have leaders, even strong leaders, but they get no special benefits that are denied other members.2

Hierarchy: (Egyptian Model) A social organization where in the ruling caste, headed by a living deity in the shape of a pharaoh or divine monarch is supported by a priestly bureaucracy that regulates and supervises the labor force conscripted for (among other things) the construction of palace and ceremonial complexes, temples, and pyramids.2


  1. For example: schools, herds, packs, coveys, pods, flocks, etc.

  2. These definitions are taken from the book, Beyond Civilization, by Daniel Quinn.  This is a secular book written from a humanistic evolutionary perspective.  It does have very keen observations on tribes and hierarchies.

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