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Dopey Dad Day

By Mike Jeffreys - 9 September 2014 39

father-son-beach-stock-080914

Now that Father’s Day is out of the way for another year, will we be spared commercials where fathers are depicted as amiable dopes? Of course not.

Advertisements where the individual previously known as “the man of the house” is portrayed as having an IQ slightly lower than the family dog are a year round phenomenon, but they seem to peak shortly before Father’s Day.

There are plenty of examples, but one in particular caught my ear while I was listening to the radio.
Pert young female voice told me that even though he’s embarrassing, I should still buy a present for Dad.

I don’t remember what the product was, but even if I could I wouldn’t mention it here, because on the off chance the sponsor happened to see it and question the agency as to whether it’s smart to ask young people to buy gifts for their fathers even though they’re an embarrassment, those agency boys would come right back with “M-a-a-a-te it’s value added – you’re getting free editorial in other media”.
Competitions in the run up to Father’s Day have been inviting listeners and viewers to submit “Dad jokes”.

The genre consists almost entirely of bad puns.

An example from one of the many “Dad joke” lists on the internet: If someone coughs, “It’s not the cough that carries you off, it’s the coffin they carry you off in”. My grandmother used to say that.
I’m not sure if she actually expected to get a laugh or just thought of it as wry wisdom. But we don’t have a category for “Granny jokes”.

Why? Not PC?

Here’s a quote from Bill Cosby: “My father established our relationship when I was seven years old. He looked at me and said, ‘You know, I brought you in this world, and I can take you out. And it don’t make no difference to me, I’ll make another one look just like you’.” Maybe his Dad really did say that but more likely Bill just made it up to raise a laugh. Either way it’s a bit too sharp edged to fit the dumb Dad category even though it is an actual joke told by an actual Dad.

There are a couple of reasons why these jokes are prefaced by the teller as “Dad jokes”.

Humour is a risky business, so if you lack the nerve to take responsibility for getting a laugh – or not – you can hedge your bets by apologizing for your joke in advance. Claiming it’s a “Dad joke” does this for you because we all know by now that Dads tell lame jokes.

Of course the question arises: why tell a joke that’s not particularly funny? Which brings us to the real reason: it’s so everyone can have a laugh at Dads for being so pathetic as to think the eye roll inducing so-called joke is genuinely funny.

Dads are apparently the only group left who can be safely stereotyped and/or ridiculed.

As you know, the argument is that humour at the expense of individuals from a defined segment of our society is demeaning and likely to make members of that segment feel angry, ostracized, unworthy, depressed and worse. But this apparently doesn’t apply to men who are also fathers?

I do understand that a great deal of advertising and program making in the MSM panders to values the creators believe will get ratings and move product.

A popular soap opera which has been running for years on TV in Australia owes its success not just to its lush scenery and attractive young actors, but also to an ethos where the only characters who really make any sense are the teenage girls. They’re followed in the hierarchy of wisdom and understanding by the adult females, then the young males and finally – a long way back – by the adult males.

As there seems no doubt that the approaches as described are successful otherwise they wouldn’t still be around, do we assume that this is where we’re at when it comes to the father pigeon hole for the 21st century?

Are we now at the stage where the ideal Dad is someone who doesn’t quite get it, should expect to be patronised but also tolerated and occasionally rewarded because he means well?

Now I’m a free speech guy. I rarely tell jokes, but that doesn’t mean I think others shouldn’t.
Tell whatever kind of joke you want as far as I’m concerned. But as a Dad, I think you should take responsibility for it yourself: don’t tell it in my name – even my group name, thanks.

And if any of my three sons bought me a present yesterday because Miss Minxy on the radio told them they should even though I’m an embarrassment, I’d be surprised and less than pleased.

What’s Your opinion?


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39 Responses to
Dopey Dad Day
chewy14 4:52 pm 09 Sep 14

neanderthalsis said :

Heather Lansdowne said :

Interesting article 🙂

But men in general are afforded huge privileges in our society (ie on average get paid better and just generally run the world etc). So I can’t say I feel super bad that they sometimes get made fun of for telling jokes that aren’t that funny.

By the same token as a white person I experience a huge amount of privilege in my life, and I think being the butt of jokes is a pretty small price to pay for that. I don’t get offended if anyone says that white people can’t dance or whatever. Minorities are oppressed their entire lives so I’m not going to hold it against them if once in a while they have a laugh at the expense of their oppressors.

Of course you can argue that two wrongs don’t make a right, but I really just don’t hold it against people if they want to make fun of the privileged people in our society.

Then again, sometimes dad jokes are kind of funny, and lots of people do actually appreciate them. Maybe they’re just called dad jokes because they’re family friendly ie usually just involve puns?

So bigotry is ok as long as you’re not privileged?

And it’s also OK to assume that just because some members of a group are privileged it means all members of that group are.

Just being white and male guarantees you power, money and success.

Ben_Dover 4:41 pm 09 Sep 14

Dads are apparently the only group left who can be safely stereotyped and/or ridiculed.

Don’t worry, once the fun police cotton on to that then they’ll act, and then there’ll be no one left to laugh at at all.

Kalliste 4:13 pm 09 Sep 14

Hoots McTaverna said :

All y’all need some feminism. This isn’t some conspiracy against rich or middle class white guys. It’s the rich white guys using sexism to sell you their cr#p, knowing all along that the cause of the white guy isn’t suffering one bit.

The “dopey dad” stereotype in ads is a direct result of our unquestioning acceptance of gender roles. The script goes: Dad is the provider, Dad is the head of the family so it’s OK to make fun of Dad because he’s the boss simply by virtue of being the Dad, just like Heather said. The humour is “punching upwards” because Dad is assumed to be at the top. The fact that it is completely unfunny is beside the point.

OP – if you want to kill this stupid “dopey Dad in ads” thing once and for all, the only way to do so is to get everyone to understand that these automatically assumed gender roles are harmful. If only you had some sort of, I dunno, talk radio show where you could preach feminist values (radical stuff like “Don’t assume a bloke will be superior at something just because he’s a bloke – do a cursory check first”), convert your listeners and watch in awe as the “dopey dad” is replaced by “dopey bossman/bosslady” or “dopey radio guy/gal” or the next unfunny thing.

And harveyk, if you think that all things being equal your daughters are going to have an easier ride through life than your sons, you are kidding yourself.

Sincerely,
A fairly average bloke currently enjoying a great career while my (far better qualified) wife remains underemployed since she’s of childbearing age and therefore a liability even though she can’t actually have children.

+1 Agree with pretty much everything you said 🙂

Hoots McTaverna 3:49 pm 09 Sep 14

All y’all need some feminism. This isn’t some conspiracy against rich or middle class white guys. It’s the rich white guys using sexism to sell you their cr#p, knowing all along that the cause of the white guy isn’t suffering one bit.

The “dopey dad” stereotype in ads is a direct result of our unquestioning acceptance of gender roles. The script goes: Dad is the provider, Dad is the head of the family so it’s OK to make fun of Dad because he’s the boss simply by virtue of being the Dad, just like Heather said. The humour is “punching upwards” because Dad is assumed to be at the top. The fact that it is completely unfunny is beside the point.

OP – if you want to kill this stupid “dopey Dad in ads” thing once and for all, the only way to do so is to get everyone to understand that these automatically assumed gender roles are harmful. If only you had some sort of, I dunno, talk radio show where you could preach feminist values (radical stuff like “Don’t assume a bloke will be superior at something just because he’s a bloke – do a cursory check first”), convert your listeners and watch in awe as the “dopey dad” is replaced by “dopey bossman/bosslady” or “dopey radio guy/gal” or the next unfunny thing.

And harveyk, if you think that all things being equal your daughters are going to have an easier ride through life than your sons, you are kidding yourself.

Sincerely,
A fairly average bloke currently enjoying a great career while my (far better qualified) wife remains underemployed since she’s of childbearing age and therefore a liability even though she can’t actually have children.

harvyk1 1:38 pm 09 Sep 14

Mike Jeffreys said :

This might be of interest http://bit.ly/1tGaSnr Peter West of UTS takes aim at a couple of the same targets I have, albeit with a more serious tone. The article asks in part: “How can we give boys a lead and show them how to make a better world, if all they see is a relentless ridiculing of their sex? Boys are, after all, bound to turn into men.”

+1,000,000 likes.

I was going to try and expand on my concerns I have with my boys growing up in this current world which I don’t have for my daughters all because of gender, but really this article says it all.

neanderthalsis 1:10 pm 09 Sep 14

Heather Lansdowne said :

Interesting article 🙂

But men in general are afforded huge privileges in our society (ie on average get paid better and just generally run the world etc). So I can’t say I feel super bad that they sometimes get made fun of for telling jokes that aren’t that funny.

By the same token as a white person I experience a huge amount of privilege in my life, and I think being the butt of jokes is a pretty small price to pay for that. I don’t get offended if anyone says that white people can’t dance or whatever. Minorities are oppressed their entire lives so I’m not going to hold it against them if once in a while they have a laugh at the expense of their oppressors.

Of course you can argue that two wrongs don’t make a right, but I really just don’t hold it against people if they want to make fun of the privileged people in our society.

Then again, sometimes dad jokes are kind of funny, and lots of people do actually appreciate them. Maybe they’re just called dad jokes because they’re family friendly ie usually just involve puns?

So bigotry is ok as long as you’re not privileged?

Russ 1:03 pm 09 Sep 14

Humour is commonly based on satirising the privileged and powerful.

In our society, men in general, and dads specifically are the ones with privilege and power that others don’t enjoy due to gender and/or age. They just don’t realise it because they’ve never known any different.

That’s why the dumb dads/men schtick works as an advertising stereotype, appealing, primarily, to women.

Antagonist 1:00 pm 09 Sep 14

I will not make any friends with this one, but I worked for several years in aboriginal affairs and am very sympathetic to their problems. However, the most blatantly racist/stereotyping people I met were those within the minority that I was employed to help. I was even called a ‘white c*&^%’ on one occasion by a very senior aboriginal identity, and was told to ‘suck it up’ when I raised it with my manager. Imagine the outrage if the shoe was on the other foot?

I also gave up my career to care for three people – my physically disabled wife and two mentally disabled sons. I have heard many women bemoan the disadvantage they face because they have to make sacrifices to raise a family – and rightly so. But things often become very heated when I point out that I, as a male, have had to make some of these sacrifices myself and can relate to their experiences through my own personal experiences.

The point of the above ramblings? The playing field is not level. In my experience it is perfectly OK and acceptable to stereotype or pigeon hole people – just as long as they are white males.

Mike Jeffreys 12:58 pm 09 Sep 14

This might be of interest http://bit.ly/1tGaSnr Peter West of UTS takes aim at a couple of the same targets I have, albeit with a more serious tone. The article asks in part: “How can we give boys a lead and show them how to make a better world, if all they see is a relentless ridiculing of their sex? Boys are, after all, bound to turn into men.”

mojo jojo 12:54 pm 09 Sep 14

I’m not sure why you’re bent on perceiving the ‘daggy dad’ cliché as ridicule rather than an affectionate catch-all for the multitude of “average” dads out there? ..You know, the ones that you don’t see in this commercial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUVU8y4KruI . (vomits)

For what it’s worth, those lame ad campaigns, which hinge entirely on a stereotype I can barely relate to, don’t resonate with me one iota either. Still, I think it’s worth drawing a distinction between some harmless fun that, if you’re honest, really doesn’t denigrate the target population, and other more insidious stereotyping that fosters discrimination and chauvinism.

Heather Lansdowne 12:20 pm 09 Sep 14

Interesting article 🙂

But men in general are afforded huge privileges in our society (ie on average get paid better and just generally run the world etc). So I can’t say I feel super bad that they sometimes get made fun of for telling jokes that aren’t that funny.

By the same token as a white person I experience a huge amount of privilege in my life, and I think being the butt of jokes is a pretty small price to pay for that. I don’t get offended if anyone says that white people can’t dance or whatever. Minorities are oppressed their entire lives so I’m not going to hold it against them if once in a while they have a laugh at the expense of their oppressors.

Of course you can argue that two wrongs don’t make a right, but I really just don’t hold it against people if they want to make fun of the privileged people in our society.

Then again, sometimes dad jokes are kind of funny, and lots of people do actually appreciate them. Maybe they’re just called dad jokes because they’re family friendly ie usually just involve puns?

switch 12:18 pm 09 Sep 14

Probably because white middle class males are the only ones left who can laugh at themselves anymore.

Why is there an apostrophe in the Father’s tag at the top of this article?

pajs 10:15 am 09 Sep 14

If it needs an editor, edit it. If it needs an editor and there is no editor to edit it, don’t publish it.

neanderthalsis 9:31 am 09 Sep 14

Dads are apparently the only group left who can be safely stereotyped and/or ridiculed.

Actually it is white, middle class males, the overweight and Christians that are acceptable targets. There was an Insight program in bigotry a few months back and a great many folk of varied ethnicity and sexuality complained that they felt discriminated against but would happily rage against the white middle class males. And don’t get me started on the Legally Brown nonsense.

Holden Caulfield 9:21 am 09 Sep 14

All your, and perhaps our, problems could be solved if you stopped listening to commercial radio.

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