October 7, 2019 by Don Hubin, Ph.D., Chair, National Board of Directors
What does Saturday Night Live have against dads? It’s hard to say but, apparently, the show’s writers and producers have father issues.
First, there was the “Christmas Dad” sketch last December. This drew fire not only from NPO (here, and here) but also from the Canadian writer Barbara Kay (here), who described the sketch as “an act of vile misandry.”
Now SNL is at it again, but their denigration isn’t aimed only at divorced dads. It’s aimed at all dads.
The sketch titled, simply, ‘“Dad” (9/28/2019), portrays a 1980s dad, portrayed by Woody Harrelson, who is so focused on work he conducts on his brick-sized cell phone that he completely ignores his son’s obvious distress. This leads the son to rap about this paternal neglect, expressing the rejection that tears at his heart.
Sounds funny so far, right?
The son (Kyle Moonie) is joined in the rap by a friend, Colby (Chris Redd), and some awkward dancing, presumably intended to be humorous, ensues.
Then, there’s a moment when Dad appears to have an epiphany: he realizes he’s been so consumed with work that he’s been ignoring his son. The dad joins in the rap and asks “What have I become?”
You might expect this moment of self-awareness to lead to a healing of the rift between the son and the dad. And, for a precious few seconds, the writers allow you to entertain this happy prospect.
But such hopes are quickly dashed when Dad gets another phone call, takes it, and starts to leave for a business meeting.
The son, perhaps sharing the hope of connecting with his dad, asks to go along. But Dad shakes his head and says “no” before inviting Colby to come along instead, and the two, laughing together, leave the son behind.
At this point the son turns toward the camera and says, simply, “Dads!” He doesn’t say, “my dad!” His complaint is against dads, in general.
I don’t know what motivates SNL to want to denigrate dads like this. This is most definitely not my experience with dads. It is extremely offensive. There is no excuse for denigrating parents--mothers or fathers.