After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, Americans began to cope by reverting to Cold War rhetoric and ideals. These ideals were reintegrated into American culture, public policy, and popular media, and they are still visible today.
Tim McGraw’s “Meanwhile Back At Mama’s” is about seeking comfort and refuge from the world in a family home. In the song, McGraw describes a small town home with a nice lawn, a mother and a father, and dinner for everyone. Its message is that when the world around us seems out of control, a familiar, picturesque household with lots of space and a loving family is the perfect escape.
While this song wasn’t directly born out of the Cold War or 9/11 eras, I find that it speaks very accurately to the reemergence of family values during these times and captures the contented lifestyle that many Americans began to grasp for. People were not necessarily actively seeking to reinstitute traditional nuclear families and gender roles, but they were seeking something safe, stable, and familiar when everything they thought they knew was crumbling around them.
In my opinion, this song is quite beautiful and soothing; as I picture myself in this setting, I feel at peace. So, while the emphasis on family values did by default result in the exclusion of any deviance, it also provided the healing and comfortable space that Americans desperately needed in the face of threat (real or perceived) and disaster.