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"WMD" Father Flops

If the mainstream TV networks made today's TV moms sound as daffy as Gracie Allen in the 1950s sitcom, The Burns & Allen Show, or as imbecilic as Alan Harper (played by Jon Cryer) on the CBS sitcom, Two-and-A-Half Men, the social progressives would boycott the networks—and whatever products were advertised on the show would be left on store shelves by indignant homemakers everywhere that were incensed that women could be depicted in such stereotyped roles.

Instead, white middle class males are stereotyped as buffoons in almost every current sitcom—providing the show has a father-figure costar. Shows like the CBS flop, Old Christine, has been recycled for a second go-round to find an audience by sandwiching it between CBS's extremely tasteless and blatantly offensive Two-and-A-Half Men and the popular crime drama, CSI Miami. CBS hopes the audience watching Two-and-A-Half Men will stick around to watch Old Christine because they intend to watch CSI Miami by creating an affair between Old Christine (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) her son's teacher (played by Blair Underwood) who, in the opening episodes, becomes her new boyfriend. It was a mix that did not bode well with the audience, and the Underwood character dumped the Louis-Dreyfus character and exited the sitcom. Clearly the audience that likes Two-and-A-Half Men is predominantly comprised of macho-idiots who measure their own IQs in bra-sizes and the audience for Old Christine is...well, I guess they haven't figured that one out yet. But this show is destined for the dust heap for a second time with several other politically correct hangers-on that CBS and ABC are trying hard to force-feed to the American people.

Charlie Sheen, who plays Charlie Harper, a free lance writer of commercial jingles, is depicted as a successful, never-been-married playboy who is forced to take in his twice-divorced brother Alan (played by Jon Cryer). Cryer plays a chiropractor who is described in almost imbecilic terms—a flop at life and a totally inept excuse for a man who is incapable of raising his son Jake (played by Angus Jones) without the help of Charlie and housekeeper Berta, played by Conchata Ferrell. In this series, the idiot on the show is the white middle class father-image guy.

When the television middle class-family sitcom was born in the late 1950s, you had shows like Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver, the Donna Reed Show, and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. In each episode, the father figure was the provider of the family and the caretaker of family wisdom. Mixed in with these family value shows were the comedy shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, and Life With Riley. That was the beginning of a genre of sitcoms featuring middle class white male buffoons. Ralph Kramden was an unsuccessful bus driver. Chester A. Riley was a bungling riveter at an airplane factory in California.

The apple pie version of Americana was replaced with shows created by far left producers like Norman Lear in the 1970s who promulgated their far left liberal agendas through laugher. Lear created characters like Archie Bunker, the Jeffersons and Maude. In his shows, the father-knows-best American family was depicted as dysfunctional even if it had a father and mother. Following Lear's Archie Bunker and George Jefferson came Al Bundy (Ed O'Neill in Married...With Children), Bill Miller (Mark Addy in Still Standing), Ray Barone (Ray Romano, Everyone Loves Raymond), Tim Taylor (Tim Allen, Home Improvement) and Patrick Warburton on Rules of Engagement. As the sitcom matured, so did their plots—and the language. Clearly, none of the new genre of sitcom guys—most notably Charlie Harper—were HeathCliff Huxtables. They aren't doctors and they weren't Black. But most of all, they weren't traditional. Bundy was a white shoe store clerk. Miller was a white appliance store clerk. And Romano was a white sports writer (none of whom produced six-digit incomes). I'm not quite sure the show ever decided exactly what Warburton's character Jeff did for a living, but I'm fairly sure he wasn't a doctor or lawyer. Tim Allen's character, Tim Taylor, had a popular TV program called Tool-Time. In real life, accident-prone Taylor would be fired as an insurance risk. The two most popular Black sitcoms over the last decade or so were Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Cosby. While Bill Cosby played a physician and his wife on the show, Phylicia Rashad played a lawyer, Phillip Banks, played by James Avery, was a lawyer and a judge. Both Banks—whose middle name was Zeke—and Huxtable, were sometimes inept fathers and spouses who always seemed to redeem themselves before the end of the episode. But not since Gracie Allen and Lucy in the 1950s have sitcom wives been depicted as scatterbrained ditzes.

The de-intellectualization of the 21st century stereotype male is not an accident, nor is intended as just good clean fun. We, the WMDs (the White Male Dinosaurs) of the world, have become the scapegoat for all of society's ills—from broken homes to Ritalin-addicted latchkey kids, to unruly kids who won't clean their rooms or eat their veggies. Not only are fathers—particularly middle class White Male Dinosaurs—the butt of everyone's jokes, we are depicted as anti-family idiots who are clueless what our children are doing and what our wives want to do. (Well, maybe part of that is deserved.) But the Vermont Teddy Bear™ ads that portray men as babbling morons are just flat out wrong. We do know what to get our wives on Valentine's Day. A new plasma TV works. And, maybe some fishing tackle in a heart-shaped box. (See, not all men are insensitive.) Throw in a diamond or two and a "sleep-without-being-bothered" pass, and most women are satisfied on Valentine's Day. See just how easy it is to make fun of men? What woman would rather have a Vermont Teddy Bear™ than a diamond on Feb. 14? I don't know too many women who would pick the stuffed animal if they had a choice. On the other hand, I don't know too many guys who will cough up a hundred bucks for a stuffed animal.

Men—particularly middle class WMDs—are depicted as knuckle-dragging morons In most of today's sitcoms. They are slow-witted idiots who are completely oblivious of what their dysfunctional kids (or wife, or both) are doing. In most sitcoms, the WMD struggles to fix the problems which are generally solved by the role-reversal all-loving wife who works eight hours a day and still cooks and cleans and spices the family dialogue with sage advise while hubby drinks beer with his equally dimwitted buddies as they watch a game on the giant screen plasma TV set in the garage.

Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) for us—the WMDs of the world—we have once again been included as a central theme in the TV sitcom. For a few years—largely in the "burn your bra" 70s, we were excluded from the situation comedy. The social progressives felt sitcoms with fathers didn't adequately represent the single-family households in America. The main characters were almost exclusively divorced women—both white and black—with children. The title of most of these sitcoms could easily have been Divorced...With Children.

Role reversal is now pretty much complete. Men have been allowed back into the family sitcom and the WMD has become the brunt of comedic jest not only for script writers, but for the advertising industry as well. Madison Avenue now depicts women as level-headed, intelligent executive-types and WMDs as childlike, irresponsible gadget-loving imbeciles. Generally, in 30 seconds, 500 times a day, men are tricked into an array of home improvement projects, or into eating vegetables instead of buffalo wings, or a hundred other things that make men looked feeble-minded.

And, to top it off, the WMD is also always out-smarted by his children. In Still Standing, overweight and lazy Bill Miller always had to turn to his son, Brian (Taylor Ball) or his wife Judy (Jami Gertz) to think him through his weekly dilemma. Men in today's feminist society are good for spawning and manual labor and not much else. In sitcoms today, men are emotionally immature, insensitive, inattentive inept buffoons. Just as a generation of kids grew up in the 1970s believing fathers don't have to make personal commitments to their families, we are now raising a generation that believes it is natural for fathers to be irresponsible gadget-freaks. Take a head-count today and see how many young husbands spend more time playing xBox™, PlayStation™ or Nintendo™ games than they do sharing time with their wives. Television conditions the minds of the impressionable audiences that absorb dribble not fit for human consumption.

Most of today's sitcoms featuring married couples with children depict fathers as slowwitted as they struggle to deal with their children. Homer Simpson is portrayed as an idiot. Dysfunctional blue-collar Family Guy, Peter Griffin, who was canceled by Fox twice, was resurrected by DvD sales by kids who enjoy how the show belittles the WMD in their life. Jimmy Neutron—a show about a boy with an IQ of 210—depicts Hugh Neutron, Jimmy's father, as a dork. His mother, of course, is very intelligent—suggesting from which gene pool Jimmy came.

Brandweek noted in its November 2, 2007 issue that, increasingly, advertising has an anti-male slant with fathers depicted as idiots. Father-bashing is fast becoming one of the advertising industry's favorite past-times. Father-bashing, however, almost exclusively targets America's newest minority—WMDs. Todd Wasserman, editor of Brandweek noted that it is commonly accepted that "...fathers are often the butt of ads and accepted as idiots. [White middle class fathers] seem like a...safe target for someone trying to get an easy laugh in an ad."

JCPenney recently aired a commercial in which the WMD has been left at home to take care of a young son while his wife went to the "One Day Only" Sale at JCPenney. The man is overwhelmed by the "responsibility," and the household falls apart because he is incapable of watching one small child for a couple of hours. Volvo, Verizon, Visa and Fidelity Investments have recently found themselves in the crosshairs of father advocacy groups for demeaning WMDs in advertising. Wasserman noted that marketing campaigns that stereotype men to get cheap laughs has increasingly become the norm in the industry.

In one ad for Domino's Pizza—which guarantees that your pizza will arrive within 30 minutes—the WMD depicted in the commercial appears on screen in a red satin robe after learning it will be 30 minutes before the pizza arrives, saying, "Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" The wife gives him a deadpan look and asks: "What are we going to do with the other 28 minutes?"

Even though WMD's are depicted as dimwitted dolts who are barely functional in the world of the social progressives, they apparently serve one important duty for their more intelligent spouses. On January 15, 2008 USA Today ran an article by financial columnist Sandra Block in which she said that husbands should delay applying for Social Security because it benefits their wives if they do.

Block suggested that men should continue to work well beyond the normal retirement age. Block wrote: "Here is some advise for married men who will turn 62 this year: If you want to make up for all the times you came home with beer on your breath, left your socks on the bathroom floor or gave your wife a DustBuster for Valentine's Day, hold off on filing your Social Security benefits."

If hubby continues to work up to, say, 70, his benefits increase dramatically. This allows his wife—if she is in the workforce—to retire at 62 since, in the event of the death of one spouse, the surviving spouse (usually the wife) gets to pick the larger of the two spouses' benefits. Men—particularly the white male dinosaur—as a subset of the species homo sapien, are simply not dorks, dummies and dweebs. Clearly, they became the comic relief target of the entertainment industry (including Madison Avenue) only because the WMD, a definite minority (and therefore protected by law), has always been viewed as a "safe" group to knock since the WMD has always been viewed as a group that did not have advocacy rights—nor were there any pressure groups out there ready to defend machoism as a constitutional prerogative.

But, with woman largely controlling where the household budget is spent, Madison Avenue decided a dose of "what's good for the goose is good for the gander" might increase sales for the advertiser and enhance the agency's bottom line. Making men sex objects—like the male model who did a strip act in the laundromat, or the Diet Coke man oogled by female officer workers. Mr. Abs, with all of his good looks and muscles, was still just one step from the dweebs, dummies and dorks since the sitcoms whose hero was a dimwitted, overweight middle glass white guy were the most popular events each evening in the homes of America. The transition was easy and profitable.

If ads that are demeaning to women or minorities appeared in today's magazine ads or on TV, the social progressives would not defend the use of that type of humor as "funny." At best such ads would be construed as tasteless. But more likely, they would be labeled as a form of sexist or racial bigotry. Men, let's face it. The macho culture has died. Is it true that father no longer knows best and the real king of Queens is the career housewife? In truth, TV is fake because it looks at life through a far left prism that defracts not only light but logic, and shows live as the social progressive want it to be, not as it is.

Wellonce againfor whatever its worth, you have my two cents worth.



Just Say No
Copyright © 2009 Jon Christian Ryter.
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