WHEN SNL MISSES, IT MISSES.

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Satur­day Night Live usu­ally hits the mark, hu­mour-wise, but when it misses, it can miss big time.On Dec. 1, SNL mounted a skit called “Dad Christ­mas.” One blog­ger com­mented on it, “I don’t re­mem­ber SNL ever sink­ing to this depth to dis­par­age di­vorced dads in an at­tempt to pro­voke a laugh.” I agree. It was an act of vile misandry.The skit be­gins with two ado­les­cent chil­dren en­joy­ing a warm and fes­tive Christ­mas with their ma­ture, beau­ti­fully groomed and loving di­vorced mom. Then they are shown in an al­ter­nate Christ­mas sce­nario — with “Christ­mas Dad,” i.e. an al­legedly generic di­vorced father.Christ­mas Dad lives in a sad-look­ing home some­where in in­te­rior Florida (wink wink: de­plorables ter­ri­tory). The kids ar­rive to find a bimbo in res­i­dence, in­tro­duced only by her first name. Both she and Dad chain-smoke in the house.The kids are un­happy, ex­press­ing long­ing for the “rules” their mother im­poses. If ever a com­edy rou­tine was writ­ten to blud­geon its au­di­ence with con­tempt for an iden­ti­fi­able group, this is it.It’s dif­fi­cult to find this skit on­line, as it was pulled from NBC’S Youtube ac­count af­ter the net­work fielded in­tense crit­i­cism (whether for its treat­ment of fa­thers or of Florid­i­ans isn’t clear). A U.S. friend filmed a cached ver­sion with his phone for me.It wasn’t long be­fore SNL was back at it again with yet more male mock­ery. Last week­end’s show fea­tured a skit, the West­min­ster Daddy Show, in which “dad­dies” — i.e. su­gar dad­dies, di­vorced men in their 40s and 50s who trade their pres­tige or wealth for sex­ual ac­cess to younger women — are por­trayed as show dogs, and judged ac­cord­ing to their daddy at­trac­tive­ness.There’s Golf Daddy and Tweedy Daddy and Wall Street Busi­ness Daddy, whose fat bill­fold is fin­gered with ap­proval by the fe­male judge. The win­ner — “Best in Show” — turns out to be “Pedi­gree Broad­cast Daddy,” played by show host Matt Da­mon.This skit, too, fo­mented an­gry com­ments from those who saw misandry in its premises.But in fact the two dad-themed skits are ap­ples and oranges in terms of of­fen­sive­ness. The dog show overtly mocks only one kind of man: the sex-fix­ated rich guy who can af­ford to buy a younger woman’s com­pan­ion­ship. But it covertly mocks at­trac­tive young women who use sex to ac­quire per­sonal ATM ma­chines. So even though the viewer is shown only the fool­ish­ness of su­gar dad­dies, and must in­fer the op­por­tunism and shal­low­ness of “su­gar daugh­ters” (hey, why isn’t that a meme, too?), the West­min­ster Daddy Show skit is not even in the same league for misandry as Dad Christ­mas. Su­gar daugh­ters are not held up for ad­mi­ra­tion. And su­gar dad­dies de­serve mock­ery.But Dad Christ­mas holds all di­vorced moms up for ad­mi­ra­tion and mocks all di­vorced dads. In fact, since the point of the skit goes to in­nate char­ac­ter, one might say that the skit ridicules fa­thers in gen­eral. SNL isn’t alone there, of course.Fa­thers, whether de­picted in in­tact fam­i­lies, or di­vorced, are low-hang­ing fruit in our so­ci­ety for mock­ery. They are con­stantly por­trayed as child­ish, do­mes­ti­cally in­com­pe­tent or slobs.In re­al­ity, un­like su­gar dad­dies, sep­a­rated fa­thers with fi­nan­cial bur­dens but in­fre­quent ac­cess to their chil­dren are the most un­priv­i­leged, falsely stereo­typed and sys­tem­i­cally dis­dained cit­i­zens in our cul­ture. If many of them live in Florida where hous­ing is cheap, it is of­ten be­cause fam­ily court has as­sessed their child- and spousal-sup­port obli­ga­tions at or near their to­tal in­come.The facts around fa­ther­less­ness are anything but hu­mor­ous. Fa­ther­less­ness is the sin­gle great­est pre­dic­tor of crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity in boys and promis­cu­ity in girls. A child in a father-ab­sent home is more likely to live in poverty; more likely to suf­fer from obe­sity and ad­dic­tion; twice as likely to drop out of high school; and more likely to face abuse and ne­glect from an un­re­lated man in the home. (In the skit, the mom is alone. Real di­vorced moms also have live-in boyfriends; SNL dad’s live-in girl­friend may not be Mary Pop­pins, but she does not present a sta­tis­ti­cally mean­ing­ful risk of abuse to his chil­dren.)The U.S. Cen­sus Bu­reau re­ports that 24 mil­lion chil­dren — one out of three — live in homes where their bi­o­log­i­cal father is ab­sent. From con­temp­tu­ous brand­ing of the SNL kind, many as­sume that dads don’t care much about their chil­dren af­ter di­vorce.But when one par­ent has sole cus­tody, clearly the case in the SNL sce­nario, natural par­ent-child bonds at­ro­phy. The so­cial sci­ence is clear: chil­dren need to spend a min­i­mum of 40 per cent of their time with each par­ent to main­tain natural, healthy bonds with both.Loving fa­thers, dis­en­fran­chised of their par­ent­ing rights by mother-friendly fam­ily courts, are amongst the most an­guished people you can imag­ine. Spik­ing di­vorce-re­lated sui­cide rates for men prove that. These men are le­gion, but cul­tur­ally in­vis­i­ble. Does any of this strike you as funny?

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