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Why are the dads in these commercials like this?

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I have learned a lot from television over the years. A lot of this education was through legitimate programs such as Sesame Street and a myriad of PBS and cable-based documentaries. However, I can add Saturday morning cartoons to that list as well. See, in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, I was keenly aware of how Dads were portrayed back then. By “back then”, I am referring to the 1950’s and 1960’s, a tumultuous time when many people from the “Greatest Generation” were either just starting families or had a couple of youngsters playing in the yard surrounded by that white picket fence. As I sat there with a big bowl of cereal and spoon in hand, I saw how American dads supposedly took care of their families. Reflecting on this over 30 years later, I have now come to the conclusion that such a generation was phenomenal at defeating Nazis, but lacked fundamental parenting skills such as love and involvement. Perhaps we should blame leaded gasoline. Damn you, leaded gasoline!

First, these dads usually weren’t with their wives when she was in labor & delivery. Sure, they might have been in the hospital, but they were usually in some waiting room pacing so much that they wore a groove in the floor. As their child aged, they were often hands-off parents and let the mother handle day-to-day duties. The dad would get involved if cars or sports, namely baseball and football, were involved (soccer may have been the sport of Communists back then, I can’t verify this – yet), but otherwise, the dad had his uninterrupted free time upon returning home from work.

Much happened over the next few decades because by the time I became a parent for the first time in 2004, I was very much involved in the process beginning the moment I heard my son’s first cry. Two other children with a new wife have joined the first, but what hasn’t changed is my involvement in all of their lives. This is also intertwined with my involvement as a husband. Despite working full-time, I will do dishes, laundry, bath time. You name it, I do it; and I do it well.

In almost 11 years of being a parent, I have had my hands full of blueberry-sourced poop and yellow snot as much as I’ll have motor oil or brake dust on them. This is funny because I am somewhat tactile defensive. I’m not Monk, but I will wash my hands when I deem necessary, which can be often depending on the situation, or should I say “shituation”… See what I did there?

This brings me to my issue prompting me to write this blog today. I am also quite the aficionado of commercials. Sure, a DVR keeps me from having to sit through them involuntarily, but I am still fascinated with the pure genius that goes into making commercials memorable and subconsciously influencing on our consumer habits. The rule of thumb is the more inane, profound, or downright stupid the commercial, the better its chances of sticking in your mind, and therefore, the greater the chance you’ll buy said product or use said service.

Except Clorox. They have produced a series of commercials in the last year or two that clearly show a dad from the 21st Century acting like a bumbling fool when taking care of their children. One commercial featured two dads talking about minivans while one of them has an older son who is trying to tell him he needs to go to the bathroom. The commercial culminates with the dad smelling something foul and both dads sniff the infants they have in their carriers only to discover the kid who tried to ask to go to the bathroom going in his pants a foot or two away. I get the humor, but really?

There’s another commercial where a dad is changing his kids diaper on a countertop while all hell is breaking loose. The mom comes home with the look of “I left you for an hour” on her face. Really? It’s as if the aforementioned dads in each commercial traveled through time from 1955 to 2015. This is a shame because so many men today can do just as good a job as the mom. We’re just as capable, and just as involved. We’re not fools. We’re not idiots.

Which brings me to my last question, anyone see a deLorean parked around here? I’ve got to go fix the past.


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