Apparently, even super-talented, well-meaning guys still fall back on tired, harmful stereotypes when Mother’s Day rolls around and they want to pander to moms and sell videos to churches.
Too cynical? Maybe. You decide for yourself.
Here’s the latest from “The Skit Guys,” two long-time friends who have made a career out of writing, producing, and starring in family-friendly, faith-inspired videos.
I get it. Moms are amazing, and often totally under-appreciated. I 100% agree on that. We should all thank our moms more.
But why do so many smart people still seem to think we need to see dads act like parenting idiots in order to appreciate what moms do? Why do we need to pretend that moms have special God-granted super-powers that men cannot possibly understand or match without the intervention of MAGIC?
(And don’t get me started on the message that only moms can teach about “servanthood,” and that moms are overly emotional, see the world and their families in an unrealistic, distorted way, etc. etc. Way to belittle the very people you’re pandering to!)
I like the guys at Skit Guys. They are probably awesome dads and husbands and I bet we would get along great. They have done some great stuff (not long ago they made a really sweet video about fatherhood that was a big hit) and I applaud their desire to make warm, funny, family-friendly videos that send good messages and glorify God.
But this is not their finest hour.
After some brief dialogue on Twitter, I know their intentions are noble. As it was explained to me, they wanted to use “extreme humor” for this one in order to make their point, and that they think “as men it’s easier to humble ourselves to elevate Moms.” (They pointed me towards another Mother’s Day video they made that was supposed to show they don’t always use the doofus dad humor, but at the 1:20 mark you’ll never guess who bumbles through, tripping over the sprinkler.)
I respectfully disagree with their defense. Humility is great. As a Canadian, I have self-deprecation in my very DNA, so I would never suggest that laughing at ourselves is not okay.
But men don’t humble themselves by suggesting that 48 hours with the kids is a recipe for disaster, and showing bumbling dads barely keeping their kids alive. That’s not humility, that’s an excuse to get out of childcare responsibilities. No, men humble themselves by serving and caring for their families without acting like it is anything above and beyond their job as a parent. It doesn’t elevate moms to suggest that by virtue of being a mother they are endowed with super parenting powers that men evidently lack, it only sets up and perpetuates a fictional Super Mom ideal that they will never, ever attain. No, we lift moms up by loving them and praising them for who they actually are and the hard work and sacrifices they make for their families.
I think the part about this whole thing that really bothers me is this: I know that their video is going to be really, really popular among their target audience, which is conservative evangelical Christian churches. They will buy the video, play it on Mother’s Day Sunday, and everyone will laugh and cry and feel perfectly pandered to, and then they’ll hand each mom a flower on the way out. As a Christian, I’m know I’m going to see many friends and family who I love dearly re-post the video, touched deeply by the message that affirms their image of mothers, completely oblivious to the message it sends about fathers. And other than posting about it here, I’ll probably have to bite my tongue.
Update: I had some great, meaningful dialogue behind the scenes with one of the Skit Guys a few weeks ago, and I will respect the private nature of the conversation and not disclose particulars. That said, I will reiterate by belief that these are great guys, who never intended to make something that perpetuated negative stereotypes, but who, unfortunately, also seem unwilling to acknowledge that they may have done just that despite their intentions. I have offered space here for them to make a statement or clarification, but it seems they have chosen not to do so.