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.