The Passing of American Fatherhood

I saw a new commercial for Verizon wireless on TV tonight. It’s sad. Not just because that’s how it made me feel, but for what it represents.

The actor who plays the father is a likable sort, a big, goofy, lovable guy you’ve seen in a number of national ad campaigns. In this spot, he brings home new cell phones for his wife and teenage daughters. He’s clearly excited about their new wireless plan that lets him talk with his family when they’re apart.

The girls, pretty young things of about 16, are less than thrilled about the prospect of talking with their father.

Rather than reprimand them, the mother, a beautiful woman who was obviously where the girls got their looks, responds to her daughters’ open ingratitude by leading them away from their dad, leaving him alone and hurt.

It was supposed to be a funny commercial. Instead, it made me want to cry–and then it made me angry.

We’ve come to a point in the degeneration of American culture where it’s impossible to show a loving father on television without making him look like an impotent doofus. The idiot father is now a sitcom character archetype, like the traditional wacky neighbor or nosy mother-in-law.

What happened to the strong male role models? At a time when half our kids are being raised by divorced parents, why are all the TV dads idiots, wimps, or gay? Why does the entertainment industry tell our kids that this is what it means to be a father?

What girl in her right mind would marry the typical TV dad? And what boy would want to grow up to be one?

Where have you gone, Ward Cleaver? We need you, now more than ever.

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