Full disclosure: I am a father of a young child, and at the risk of sounding like a total egomaniac, I think I’m a pretty dang good dad.
Because, frankly, it’s not that hard to be a good father — simply being present and loving is 80 percent of the battle.
But the fatherlessness epidemic in America is very real, and has become so rampant and omnipresent that people have convinced themselves that it’s actually difficult to be a good father and that quality dads are an increasingly rarer species.
(There may be some merit to that last point.)
But good fathers do exist in the wild, and that’s a concept that is apparently completely foreign to the enlightened minds at The New York Times.
Last Monday, NYT pop culture critic Amanda Hess penned a critique of a pair of children’s shows for having … present fathers?
Titled “The Fantasy of the Fun TV Dad,” Hess writes, “In the children’s series ‘Bluey‘ and its conservative knockoff, ‘Chip Chilla,’ boundlessly attentive fathers step in to assuage parental anxieties.”
The article, clearly written with a leftist bent, posits that the father characters in the two aforementioned children’s cartoons are a “fantasy” because they’re good fathers.
“Bluey,” a show about anthropomorphic dogs, and “Chip Chilla,” a show about anthropomorphic chinchillas, both feature robust nuclear families (I’m starting to get a whiff of why leftists don’t like these shows) with present fathers as the main characters.
Bandit, the father from “Bluey,” and Chum Chum, the father from “Chip Chilla,” both figure prominently in their children’s lives — and that, more so than the talking animal bit, is apparently a bridge too far for the sensibilities of Ms. Hess.
“I don’t know how [Bandit] keeps house, works as an archaeologist and serves as a full-time prop artist to his daughters, but he does it all while only feigning complaint,” Hess wrote. “He is not only a good father — he is a fantasy, one crafted to appeal to adults as much as to children.”
The fantasy of the fun TV dad: In the animated series “Bluey” and its conservative knockoff, “Chip Chilla,” boundlessly attentive fathers step in to assuage parental anxieties. https://t.co/nA8sIkD0nJ
— New York Times Arts (@nytimesarts) December 23, 2023
How is a father who works a full-time job, helps with repairs and housework, and gives ample attention to his children “all while only feigning complaint” some sort of modern day chimera?
If this generally unremarkable writer can do all those things with aplomb, quite literally, most men in America can.
But, again, Hess doesn’t think that to be the case.
“So Bandit’s omnipresence is odd, and striking,” she wrote. “He is like Mary Poppins, stitching together a family with creative prop work. Or he’s the Cat in the Hat, leading children in controlled chaos while their mother is out.
“His closest analogues in children’s media are not other parents, but the fools and tricksters that children encounter when they are allowed to roam unsupervised.
“Bandit represents a parent freed of drudgery, one whose central responsibility is delighting his kids.”
It’s difficult to parse out exactly what Hess’s problem with Bandit’s “omnipresence” is.
It’s not clear if she’s aware that fathers can utilize “creative prop work” and “controlled chaos” (or, as normal people often describe those terms, “fun”) and still be a good parent.
She does, however, offer a big clue into her mindset with that last line. She appears to be drawing a false equivalency that parents can only be one of either a drudgery-filled robot, or a pushover “whose central responsibility is delighting.”
Spoiler alert: Part of being a good parent is knowing when to have fun and when to parent. Balancing those two is difficult, to be sure, but far, far from impossible.
And a possible explanation for Hess’s confusion on parenting: Ideologically, she makes it pretty obvious she’s of the more left-leaning persuasion.
Her uncritical critiques (what in the world does it even mean that “Chip Chilla” is a show that “feels like Wikipedia should get a co-writing credit”?) of The Daily Wire’s Bentkey and its take on a family-focused children’s cartoon make it clear she’s coming at these shows with a clear slant.
After pointing out that “Chip Chilla” features children being homeschooled (as big a taboo to the left as nuclear families), Hess makes this completely unsubstantiated claim: “I suspect that Bentkey made Chum Chum the schoolteacher not because it’s a modern choice, but because it puts male authority at the center of the show.”
I suspect the NYT got a feminist to write about fathers because it puts female authority at the center of their show, but that’s as backed up as Hess’s claim.
Prospective fathers: Don’t let the NYT paint or flavor your view of fatherhood.
It’s the best and most difficult journey you can take — and it can absolutely be fun, no matter how much some may claim it’s impossible.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.