Let's make fun of dumb dads

Originally published at: Let's make fun of dumb dads | Boing Boing


Let’s make fun of dumb dads

Um, how bout let’s not.

This is a common archetype for fathers in media. These male characters are portrayed as incompetent and incapable of nurturing their family. It’s important to analyze the impact these stereotypes have on viewers. From Papa Bear to Homer Simpson, this character mould transcends all ages and is harmful to society.

We have indulged the “dumb dad” cliché for years. Even shows that are seemingly “representative” of today’s family, like Modern Family, and Life in Pieces, portray dads as incompetent and unaware of what it means to emotionally support family members. It sends the message that fathers are not crucial members of the emotional aspect of a family unit, whereas mothers are. This is not only hurtful and often an inaccurate representation of many fathers, but sets a specific tone for young boys and girls growing up and learning about the expectations of fatherhood and motherhood.


Totally. This seems like a shit idea that we’d be better off dealing with than laughing at.


The phrase “dumb dads” floated this song into my forebrain.

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How many things is that true about? Quite a lot, I’d bet!


My brain came up with this one.

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I’m confused, the dad in the video was doing things with his kids, how is that dumb?


Yeah, it’s pretty tough to make fun of dads talking about doing the right thing, and then actually trying to do the right thing. But no, I thought the dads were pretty fun, after all.

This goes back way past the Berenstain Bears. When I was a boy back in ancient times it always bothered me that sitcom dads were bumblers at best, if not fools. When I compared them with my father I took it personally. Dad had his faults like everyone else but was an all-round good person, and I felt like the sitcoms were ridiculing him.

Not that the opposite end of the TV-dad spectrum was any better. When I was older I saw too much of the God-fearin’ superdad on Little House on the Prairie. If anything he was even harder to take than the 50s dads: always right, always righteous, always preaching to his family while performing literally superhuman physical feats.


… Well, he was mainly chopping wood and sporting terrific hair !

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The bad parent guide by Guy Delisle


Ah, haven’t seen that! Thanks, I love his comics.


This trope is bad for women too. It contributes to impressions that they should settle for men who are crappy fathers because that’s “how all men are”. It contributes to the idea that women aren’t within their rights to expect a husband who does 50% of the work and 50% of the parenting in the marriage.

Sexism always hurts everyone. It’s easy to forget that. All the more reason we need to work on it, and why men should be on board with fighting it! It hurts them too, not just with bad dad tropes, but also through expectations of toxic masculinity and many other things.


I would take issue with including ‘Modern Family’ in that takedown. The dads were excellent characters. Yes, it was a comedy, but the ‘dumb dad’ trope was not present in that show.

As for Homer Simpson, Al Bundy, the Raymond that everyone apparently loved, and almost every other show on tv - absolutely an issue.

This is an important point. The 50s sitcom mom had a double duty. She was obliged to keep the home running, the kids fed, etc. (though maybe not keep the house clean, because 50s sitcom homes cleaned themselves), and fix all the dumbbell dad’s mistakes. At the same time she was to acknowledge him as the supreme authority and accept his stupidest behavior with a pat on the head, as if dad were one of her children. It’s basically the same treatment incel manbabies demand. They aren’t obligated to do anything differently while their partner must make all the adjustments and satisfy all the demands. What crap.


All that, and it goes further back. I like listening to old time radio, but over time have found I can’t stomach the tropes of so many of the “classics.” Father Knows Best, The Great Gildersleeve, and The Life of Riley spring readily to mind as examples where the male figures are allowed to live wallowing in their Id, while the women are expected to coddle and manage them.


One sitcom that dealt with this trope in a less-than-helpful way was Married… With Children.

They kept the dad as a dumb lazy guy who was a bad parent, of course. But they subverted the stereotype by making the mom an even dumber, even lazier, even less qualified parent! Yay for 1990s progressives!

At least Katy Segal got an opportunity to star in some better-written stuff years later (Futurama, Archer and of course Sons of Anarchy.)

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… well of course nobody in Sons of Anarchy was exactly a role model either :grimacing:

Of course playing a better-written character doesn’t always mean playing a better person.

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It sounds to me like the title is ironic. The “dumb” dad is actually doing all perfectly reasonable parenting things.

“We believe the only way to erase the stigma that Dumb Dads get painted with is to parent harder, not dumber.”

So I think they agree with you. The Instagram all seems to be able funny moments while actually being a reasonable parent.

If I’ve misunderstood the premise, though, apologies.