Modern Dads? They're Just Beer-Drinking, Walking DIY Disasters - If You Believe What You See on TV
Brown, Jonathan, The Independent (London, England)
They might make us laugh with their feckless, beer-drinking, bumbling DIY ways but media representations of modern fatherhood are little more than discrimination and threaten to convince future generations that men are "useless", research has suggested.
Homer Simpson, Frank Gallagher and even Peppa Pig's dad fail to accurately represent the modern male experience and reflect the important contribution that fathers make to their families, according to a survey of parents by website Netmums.
The research has cast new light on the so-called crisis of masculinity showing that dads are misunderstood and forced to endure near constant ridicule on TV, in books and in magazines for their perceived inadequacies.
More than nine out of 10 respondents to the survey said the stereotypes were out of touch with reality and would be offensive to women or racial groups. Half were critical of the way fathers were represented as lazy and stupid by the media, while a third suggested they were little more than a "subtle form of discrimination".
Programmes including The Simpsons, Peppa Pig, My Family, Outnumbered and Shameless were all highlighted as failing to promote suitable role models for children or fathers themselves.
Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard said that while many of the portrayals were humorous when viewed in isolation, taken together they were having a corrosive effect. She stressed that she was not calling for them to be banned, but urged society to instead focus on the more positive aspects of fatherhood. "It's never been harder to be a father - but good dads have never been more needed by their families. So it seems perverse [that] we are telling men to step up and be involved, while running them down in the media," she said.
"The type of jokes aimed at dads would be banned if they were aimed at women, ethnic minorities or religious groups. Some people claim it's 'just a joke' - but there's nothing amusing about taking away good role models for young boys."
Of the 2,150 parents questioned however, three quarters said the standing of fathers had improved in society and men were more hands- on compared to a generation ago. Nearly nine out of 10 fathers said they sought to be a better parent than their own dad. …