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Father's Day: Do the media bash fatherhood and manhood?

TelevisionMoviesFather's DayGoogle Inc.Dwyane WadeLiam Neeson

Father's Day is almost upon us, and that means a rant from the Media Research Center on how dem ol' liberals are trashing us males in the family -- with wholehearted collusion, of course, from "the media."

"Deadbeats, Duds and Doofusses: Dads in the Media," as the nearly 2,000-word report is titled, scans the topic in both news media and, of course, TV and films. The news, as digested by writer Matt Philbin, is not good.

"Culturally, in article after magazine article, on TV and in films, fathers and men in general are portrayed as hapless bumblers at best, abusive deadbeats at worst," says Philbin, of the MRC’s Culture and Media Institute.

Evidence? Wellllll . . .

He finds 355,000 items in Google on the phrase "Who needs men?"

He cites the cover story from Newsweek in April on "Beached White Males" and their stresses during the current recession -- which doesn’t really correlate with fatherhood, of course.

And of course, he brings up film and TV, where he sees dad-bashing in "Two and a Half Men," "Family Guy," "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "Jimmy Neutron." He gets nostalgic for the oldtime shows, like "Father Knows Best" and "Leave It to Beaver." And he complains about the praise for single parenthood in films like "The Switch" and "The Back Up Plan."

OK. Let's have a closer look.

First off, yes. There’s a lot of male bashing in entertainment media. Is that the end of the story?

Philbin cites negative shows, past and present. What about "Family Ties," "Growing Pains," "Seventh Heaven" and "The Cosby Show," which showed a more positive side to fatherhood? Even in "24," Jack Bauer often shows a knightly, protective side toward women and children.

Movies? Well, "Taken" comes to mind -- Liam Neeson tearing through criminals to rescue his daughter. Or a little further back, "A River Runs Through It," on a minister's relationship with his sons.

One surprise: sci-fi. "Armageddon" (spoiler alert) has a character sacrificing himself to save his daughter, and all of Earth. "Independence Day" has a strong president and father in Bill Pullman. In the same film, two characters, played by Jeff Goldblum and Margaret Colin, remarry after their divorce.

Local media are following suit. As NBC Miami reports, Dwyane Wade has received a Fatherhood Award from the National Fatherhood Initiative. Philbin himself mentions a sympathetic Wall Street Journal article decrying the prolonged fratboy-escence of young professional males.

Even on Google, you can get different results from different phrases. Try "We need men," and you’ll get 3,180,000 hits. For "We need fathers," you can find another 159,000.

Manhood and fatherhood are indeed facing big challenges. No denying that. It's good to face the issues. But it does no good to tell half the story.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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TelevisionMoviesFather's DayGoogle Inc.Dwyane WadeLiam Neeson
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