A few nights ago, while I was doing my P90X
workout (yes, thats a shameless plug.), I decided to check out the latest The Simpsons episode on Hulu. Ironically, the title of the show was Angry Dad: The Movie, so I knew that I was in for a treat
not. You see, The Simpsons show has made millions for decades buffoonorizing dads in the form of Homer Simpson. Thanks to the shows handy work, when millions of adults and kids are asked to name a TV dad, Homer is sure the top the list. Not Cliff Huxtable. Homer.
Lets face it. When it comes to TV dads, we have gone from Father Knows Best to father knows nothing. The vast majority of dads on TV, in series or commercials, are portrayed as dumb, dangerous or disaffected. Generally, fathers are not just the butt of the joke, they are the butt
In any case, in the episode, an executive visited the Simpson home because he came across an animated cartoon that Bart created titled Angry Dad, which chronicled Homers immature antics. The executive thought this cartoon was great, so much so that he convinced a Hollywood studio to make it into a movie. So, the family headed to Hollywood to get it done. Interestingly, as Bart and the executive were heading in to see the movie producers, the executive assured him that the movie had real potential. In fact, he said, Everyone has an angry dad
even me. And then the scene showed a flashback 'thought bubble' of the executives dad yelling at him as a small boy.
Well, it turned out that the executive was right. The Angry Dad movie won a Golden Globe and an Oscar, of course, with Homer playing the part of the angry and inconsiderate dad through each award show.
Now, I like a good joke as much as anyone. After all, I recently blogged
about my deep affection for the much-maligned fanny pack. But, I really think that there is a problem here, especially since the show's success is built upon the notion of the idiot dad that is so prevalent and damaging in our culture. Indeed, media has power to shape norms, attitudes and behaviors. (Just think about how many glee clubs have formed recently due to the success of Glee.) Also, its worth noting that in our recent national survey of fathers called Pops Culture
, dads cited media/pop culture as the second biggest obstacle to good fathering.
Moreover, as I have watched the show over the years, I have detected a very clear pattern. If you rank the characters based on who is responsible and competent, the list goes like this:
3. Maggie (a non speaking infant)
6. Abe (Homers father)
Interestingly, in a non-fiction book called The Psychology of The Simpsons: D'oh!, which analyzed the psychological themes in the show, authors Alan Brown, Ph.D. and Chris Logan described Abe Simpson as follows:
Abe has the least amount of "power" in the Simpson family, and he is treated as little more than a child and is often ignored.
Doh! Indeed. And, come to think of it, the one dad on the show that really cares about his kids, Ned Flanders, is often made to look like an idiot as well, even by Homer.
So, before the legions of The Simpsons fans tell me that I am overacting and Dont have a cow, man, I need to hear from the fathers. Are you an angry dad? I wasnt before watching this The Simpson episode. Now
I am not so sure.