Dumb dads, foolish fathers, and lazy ad agencies


Fatherhood For Dummies

Thankfully, I read this copy of Fatherhood For Dummies before my son was born. I never would have guessed that raising a chainsaw above my son’s head would make me a bad dad. That’s why “Reading IS FUNdamental”!

Well, Father’s Day will be soon approaching this year. It is especially meaningful for me, because I am a first time father this year (to my awesome son Skyler!). This is the one day out of the year where men all across the world will be looked at not only as child support evading and cleaning-supply evading fathers, but dads who play a marginally important role in the lives of their children.

So, as I am sitting here holding Sky, as I am off work for the second day in a row due to him being sick, and my wife being too sick to take care of him, a commercial from Lowe’s appears. Yes, Lowe’s, the arbiter of home improvement importance, where making upgrades to your underwater-mortgaged home should be a top priority of every proud American. It is the one for their Valspar paint, which is another timeless depiction of the “hapless father”. You know, the idiots who can’t even do one thing right when it comes to taking care of their kids in the absence of any female figure. In this example, a father uses a video-messaging program to call his wife, with the kids in the background. With the use of not so clever video angle work, the background of the kids and father is entirely clean, while the surrounding area is completely trashed. Like, junior high last day of school food fight trashed. Of course, the dad is “just checking in”, and wanted to say that the house is clean and the kids are alright.

The kids aren’t alright, and neither should you be.

Nowadays, sexism and racism, and general prejudice, are hot button topics in our 24-7 media culture. Of course, actual newsworthy news only happens occasionally, so this media culture of ours has a propensity to make news stories out of absolutely nothing. This has created a culture where even the slightest perceived transgressions against a group of people can be considered headline news.

But…this generally only applies if the transgressions are against women. If you are a male, then it’s perfectly OK to be made fun of. I am all for a good joke, and jokes with prejudicial leanings can be funny, whether you want to openly admit it, or not. (Somewhat like this article, which aspires to be like a good prejudicial joke: Funny with a grain of truth.) But hypocrisy isn’t so funny. What if this commercial depicted a woman who wasn’t a good car driver? Wait…this commercial does exist. It was made in the 1960’s, and is considered the most sexist commercial of all time.

So why is sexism and prejudices OK for one group of people, and not for others? One might make the argument that, hey, we’ve been discriminated against for years, so it’s OK for us to make fun of you. Which is a false argument, because every group of people ever has been discriminated against at one point or another, on micro or macro levels. Now I agree that general discrimination against males has usually been on micro levels, but that doesn’t excuse the hypocrisy involved. Namely: if you want the respect you feel you deserve, then you should show the same amount of respect to your fellow man (and woman).

Back to me: these past two days taking care of my son have involved being repeatedly showered in bodily fluids, as my son has been dealing with some sort of stomach bug. In the midst of all this, I have cleaned his clothes, given him baths, fed/hydrated him, and held him for as much time as I can. I am fully capable of doing any child care task imaginable, and if I am unsure about something, I am fully capable of using Google to look it up. Not to mention that I’ve been doing other manly things such as jamming on my guitar, mowing the lawn, and yelling at the neighborhood kids to get off of said lawn. Because, let’s all face it, I’m an asshole.

And I admit it. So did Mark Cuban a few days ago. But don’t yell at people to get off your yard, if you are going to repeatedly trample on their lawn.

Now, I am not COMPLETELY ignorant. My wife works hard to care for our son, and I truly realize the paramount importance of a mother-son bond. Hell, she was always one of those “I am never getting pregnant” women, and eventually it happened. She stuck it out through all of the pregnancy pains and a painful delivery, and we would both concur that it was entirely worth it!

And, no offense to Lowe’s, because that commercial wasn’t even the worst one I’ve seen TODAY. That honor goes to Nationwide, who is yet another insurance company trying to be hip to a generation whom they certainly hope hasn’t seen Capitalism: A Love Story. This is a commercial where “we are on your side, because we don’t have shareholders” and “we will replace your things with brand new things, so you won’t get burned” are the two main quotes. Yes, please oh great insurance company: replace my things with brand new things, hell, that’s only what I pay you for…

So, on this upcoming Fathers Day, let’s try to appreciate our fathers a little more, even the marginalized few that don’t know how to clean a kitchen or how to boil water. I’m still new to this fatherhood thing, but I have learned more in this short period of time than in any other period of my life. And I anticipate it being a continual learning process. Which is what life truly is about, we all have things to learn. Now excuse me: I’ve got to go clean the baby drool off of this laptop…


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