Homer and Daddy Pig, let the backlash begin

homer simpson strangling bart simpsonAccording to today’s Times, Homer Simpson tops the league of Deadbeat Dads. Daddy Pig comes in for some negative comment too. (A whole page of it, actually, reflecting his cultural significance as a “classic incompetent.”)

In a similar vein, the Daily Mail asks why does TV portray every dad as a dimwit? It argues that fictional fathers are depicted as “useless twits who can’t change a nappy, mop a floor or unload the dishwasher without causing a tsunami of chaos.”

The features apparently come off the back of two surveys. One is by Netmums. Netmummers (and Mumsnetters, for that matter), we know, are famous for enjoying a good gossip and eating lots of biscuits. And they’re not shy of controversy.

In contrast, the other survey carries the heavy weight of academia and social commentary. According to the Centre for Social Justice, over one million children grow up with no contact with their fathers. Certain parts of the country have become “men deserts,” with no positive male role models at home or, due to the lack of male primary school teachers, in the classroom.

The Centre’s report, Fractured Families, Why Stability Matters, criticises two dysfunctional models of fatherhood, the absent father and the disengaged father.

It’s not too hard to see elements of both in some of the TV Dads under fire in today’s papers. Strangely, however, the report doesn’t mention them, or any other fictional Dads. Not once.

Why then has Netmums been so vociferous? According to its founder, Siobhan Freegard, many fathers are trying harder than ever to be good parents. It’s unfair for the media to mock them. Affirmative action is required, even by cartoons.

However, not everyone agrees that our comic strip dads aren’t making the grade. Times readers have risen to Daddy Pig’s defence. He cares for his kids, holds a world record in puddle jumping and takes part in charity fun runs. He cooks and is very tolerant of his overbearing in-laws.

So what if he sometimes slinks off to read the newspaper, eats too much chocolate cake and is a bit overweight? What do you expect? Afterall, he is, as his name implies, a pig.

daddy pig, mummy pig, peppa pig and george jumping in a muddy puddleHomer has his advocates too. And you can see he’s not all bad. He doesn’t get everything right. But then, who does?

Homer loves his wife and children, holds down a job at Springfield’s nuclear power plant (after a fashion) and stands by his friends (most of the time). He’s kind to animals (when he’s not eating them). He’s rehomed an abandoned greyhound, Santa’s Little Helper, and adopted a pig otherwise destined for slaughter. (You can’t kill him, he’s wearing people clothes, a clearly choked Homer explained to his fellow diners).

Love them or loath them, aren’t we in danger of taking Homer and Daddy Pig too seriously? I’m all for equality. But, after all, they are cartoons. And cartoons are different from real people. Straight up. They’re meant to make us chuckle. When we laugh, we’re laughing at their foibles, those recognisable imperfections that we can identify with, that makes them (almost) human.

Should we be looking at cartoons for role-models? And what does our criticism of Homer and Daddy Pig really say about our attitudes to fathers? Do we really expect them to be multitasking, ever-patient, domestic gods with abs like tea trays and political correctness shining out of their coiffured ears?

What should a model cartoon father look like? Captain America pushing a pram?

For years Netmums has championed the cause of the good enough mother. Isn’t it time it cut fathers the same slack?

Hang in there, Daddy Pig. You’re doing great!

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About sarah

Old enough to know better, still young enough not to care. Property lawyer, sometime developer, writer and mother, coffee lover and cat-napper. I blog about life as a mum in North Wilts.
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20 Responses to Homer and Daddy Pig, let the backlash begin

  1. Erica Price says:

    I know some people don’t like Daddy Pig as a role model because he doesn’t seem to work as well as being a bit incompetent. There are plenty of good role models out there and so of them are fathers, thinking Postman Pat here.

    • sarah says:

      Thanks. I had forgotten Postman Pat, will have to work my way through CBeebies. Not sure how much of a hands-on Dad he is though, but he’s very good with cats. ;-)

  2. markus says:

    First of all very good post on the matter. Secondly who in their right mind would say that Homer and Daddy pig are Role models? You really think that kids sit there watching Simpsons are thinking that that is the sort of dad they strive to become when they are older? No of course not. It is yet another way to sell more papers. Oh we don’t seem to have anything interesting or nice to say coming up to Fathers Day let fabricate something about TV and Role models, that should get people talking and give us more publicity. Thanks to Victoria I found this post.

    • sarah says:

      Thanks Markus. I agree. I did think there was a fair amount of spin in th article. The Centre for Social Justice took a rather different angle.

  3. Lol this made me giggle. I know not all children have a father or equivilent role model present. But surely these fictional daddy’s are created to poke fun and aggegerate what dads do? Real daddies and grandads must have more influence? My children are licky they have fantastic male role models in their lives. They don’t need daddy pig (sorry) :-)

    • sarah says:

      Thanks for your comment. I agree much better to have good real life role models. Sadly, not all kids are that lucky. I really doubt the influence of Daddy Pig and Homer (for better or worse), although I would like to see more and better male role models generally….I do think some great work is being done in this area, and that to concentrate on cartoon characters (that so many of us love) trivalises the issue.

  4. Galina V says:

    Who said Daddy Pig is a bad role model? That’s pants. He’s a loving father who is a great playmate to his kids. What could be more fun than jumping in the puddles?
    Also Daily Fail is not exactly the best source of reliable material. ;)

    • sarah says:

      It was a survey carried out by Netmums. Daily Fail somehow linked it to a report by the Centre for Social Justice published two days earlier. All puff. And I agree, Daddy Pig is great.

  5. Quite frankly if any man looked at cartoons wanting to be like them I’d be a bit worried, aren’t they just a bit of fun? And anyway, I quite like Daddy Pig, he reminds me of my own Dad (apart from the jumping in muddy puddles part) :)

    • sarah says:

      Actually, the more I think about it, the more I could see Daddy Pig as a role model (IMHO he’s one of the better TV cartoon characters).

  6. Mummy of Two says:

    I think as long as children have a good balance there is no harm done. There are good Dad role models out there on the TV too and I don’t think Daddy Pig is that bad! Maybe agree with Homer but then again The Simpsons isn’t something I would let my son watch until he is older anyway. Great post!

    • sarah says:

      Thanks. I agree. Balance is crucial. Unfortunately, my son has become addicted to the Simpsons and boy am I regretting it (I put it down to some possibly misplaced Daddy/Son bonding!)

  7. Charly Dove says:

    Really great post on this subject Sarah. I think it’s important to have a good balance. POD watches Peppa Pig but she’s way too young for The Simpsons :)

  8. Cathie B says:

    WOW – people really research this? If so, they could look at Fireman Sam being the eternal batchelor or what about the Dungeon Master – luring all those young children into another realm!!!!! Loved this post x

  9. Your post made me laugh. I actually like Homer and Daddy Pig. There is something to say for dads not always trying so hard to be perfect. Maybe us mums just need to relax a bit more sometimes.

  10. We love daddy pig! Also what about Jason Mason’s dad, or the dad from sarah and duck? There are lots of good Daddy role models around. Although I do always feel a bit sorry for Mike the Knight and Evie that their Dad is always away. Popped over from pocolo

    • sarah says:

      Thanks, some I hadn’t considered. I look back to my own childhood and the absent father in Rupert! I think we probably have better children’s fictional male role models now!

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