About a year ago I wrote a couple of ranty blog posts about the way husbands and fathers are portrayed in television commercials. These:
Madison Avenue’s Go-To Guy – The Clueless Husband/Father
More on Doofus Dad/Hapless Husband
As Providence would have it, these posts came to the attention of Joshua Levs, a writer for CNN, working on a piece for CNN.com centered on that very topic. He shot me an email asking if he could interview me for the piece. I agreed. And a few days ago it published:
No more dumb old dad: Changing the bumbling father stereotype
I was a little nervous about the angle the piece would take (it being CNN and all) but I thought Levs produced a very good, very fair piece of journalism.
Sadly, the advertising industry’s lazy habit of defaulting to the Doofus Dad/Hapless Husband schtick shows no signs of diminishing. The most recent example that has my wife and I rolling our eyes is the Valspar paint spot in which the standard “all-knowing, all-wise, ever-patient” wife asks the standard “bewildered” husband to grab a magenta paint chip from rack at the home improvement store.
It didn’t make it into the CNN article but one question I was asked by the author was, “What’s the harm?” In other words, why should we be alarmed or dismayed about this trend?
My response was, “The issue isn’t whether this trend of pandering to women by disparaging men creates a specific harm. The interesting question is what the trend reveals about us as a culture.” I contend that a culture that happily holds fatherhood, husband-hood up for consistent ridicule and mockery is a culture in trouble.