JIM DAVIS: TV Dads Still Taking It on the Chin
With the year-end holidays upon us, we are again swamped with television commercials urging us to buy cars, houses, pets, furniture, kitchen appliances, and loads of other stuff.
Most of all, we are seeing innumerable TV commercials for toys and games for the kiddies, and this prompts me to revisit a subject about which I've written before -- namely, television's harpooning of the American father. I don't know how you could miss it, but just in case there are some folks out there who never see television commercials, let me cite some examples.
"Stanley Johnson" is still at it. Stanley is the idiot whom we find riding his power mower near his mansion, which boasts a swimming pool and other amenities. Stanley also belongs to the local country club, he is quick to point out. His problem is that he can't pay for any of it, and he is begging for help. My solution would be to dump Stanley and his mower into the pool and throw the house on top of him, but that's probably illegal.
Here's a mental giant who takes his family snowmobiling. Dad goes crashing off downhill on his machine, ignoring the fact that it's summer and there isn't any snow. The family just stands by, shaking their heads at his stupidity.
Dad tells his little girl that he folds his peanut-butter sandwich the way his father taught him, and he always wanted to be like his dad. Does the kid say how tender and sweet that is, and she'll fold her sandwich too so she can be like her dad? Nope. She ridicules him and says he's silly.
A father enters the kitchen where his little boy is eating breakfast. Spotting an uneaten muffin and assuming it belongs to the child, Pop scarfs it down. The son points out with a smirk that the muffin belonged to Mother, and Dad's going to catch it when she finds out.
I haven't mentioned any products, because I don't want to. Also, notice that no one -- not Mom, the kids, the neighbors, or the family cat -- is ever the butt of the joke except stupid old Dad. The American father is the only character in today's culture who can safely be lampooned without risking the dreaded appellation "politically incorrect." Think about that for a minute while I cite other examples.
A father has built an elaborate treehouse for the kids. The children reject it because they would prefer to watch TV and play games in the family car. Dad hangs his head in disappointment.
Pop wants to take his little boy out for burgers, and he bursts into tears when the kid won't go. A father is told by his children that Mom has blocked off his favorite TV channel because she doesn't want Dad watching it. Still another father shrieks with delight in a doctor's waiting room when he solves a puzzle designed for a two-year-old.
Watch for the Christmas commercials advertising games to be played by the family. Pop always loses, while the rest of the family, including his pre-school kids, poke fun at him.
What's going on here, anyway? What's happened to respect for fatherhood?
I don't want to be too shrill about it, but the American family is under attack, and the father bears the brunt of it because he can't fight back. Mothers, older folks, children, animals, trees, even the air we breathe -- all have their advocate organizations and are therefore immune from ridicule and disrespect, but not Dad. He's out there all alone with a bull's-eye in the middle of his back.
To my friends who will read this and fear I've lost it, don't worry. My next column will be about cleaning out the garage or something equally pointless.
Excuse me, but I have to go now. Marilyn just read this column, and she wants me to clean out the garage.
Jim Davis is a Pinehurst freelance writer. He may be reached at email@example.com.
More like this story