Father Knows Best…And Then He Doesn’t

Continuing with my cartoon theme on this blog. I mean, who needs more commentary about the dwindling economy, the gulf oil spill, etc., when I can just go on about cartoons?

Anywho…now that you’ve heard my sarcasm drip more than melting ice cream on a hot summer day, onto today’s posting.

Cartoon dads. Was reading a comment someone had posted on Facebook, in regards to my last blog post. The comment was about Harry Boyle, the dad from ‘Wait Until Your Father Gets Home.’ I quote: “I remember that series…no, the dad was not dumb either, he was more average joe..and tom bosley did his voice….”

This got me thinking…no, Harry Boyle was not dumb at all. He was a working class kinda guy, at odds with the changes of the 1970s generation. Come to think of it, neither was the other cartoon dads, like Fred Flintstone, George Jetson, etc. If anything, the concept of having a really, really stupid dad is a recent phenomenon. Perhaps it began with ‘The Simpsons.’ The Simpson brought back animation sitcoms to prime time television, but quite possibly introduced us to the unintelligent dad. When the focus turned away from smartass Bart to hopeless Homer, a new concept began. The fact that Homer Simpson despite his low I.Q., was able to hold down a job at a nuclear power plant…it’s not all that unlikely. Meanwhile, Marge went above and beyond her blue beehive keeping her yellow clan together. Then came along ‘Family Guy’ and the ultimate idiot of them all, Peter Griffin.

Let’s go down the list of a few animated fathers. We’ll start with Fred Flintstone.

The Flintstones, featuring Fred.

Fred Flintstone was an average guy, working an average job down at the Quarry. Fred didn’t start out as a father until Pebbles’ arrival. Fred wasn’t the sharpest stone in the cave. His get rich schemes never panned out, and was a bit of a hot head. However, his loving devotion to his more intelligent wife Wilma, his family (except for the mother in law) and his friends more than outweighed the Brontosaurus burgers.

Ack-acka-dak, dack-dacka-ack

Then again…if anything, Fred might’ve downplayed his intelligence. Why? More than likely, Fred Flintstone was a Freemason. When you’re sworn into a lodge, there’s secrets to keep. Fred was an initiate of Bedrock’s Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes (Lodge No. 26). Ack-acka-dak, dack-dacka-ack.

Meet George Jetson

Go retro-futuristic with The Jetsons

Hanna Barbera soon blasted off into the future with another animated prime time sitcom. The Jetsons. The head of that family was computer engineer George Jetson. This time the family was slightly more white collar than its stone-age counterparts, but just as loving. George Jetson had lapses in judgment, leading to many of the show’s predicaments. However, George was no slouch in the brain department. If anything, George was merely overburdened and overworked. This was despite the fact that George only worked 9 hours per week at Spacely Space Sprockets. His overbearing boss, Mr. Spacey added to George’s bouts of mild anxiety. Over 45 years later, perhaps many working Americans can relate to George’s dilemma. Nowadays Americans have the internet, DVRs, cellphones, remote controls, GPS devices, and many more mod cons. Even with less work hours and modern conveniences, many Americans are more stressed out than ever before. That is, if you even have a job. You can almost hear George Jetson faintly in the distance: “I told you so!”

Wait Until Harry Boyle Gets Home…

Hey Harry; if you think the ecomony was bad in 1972, you should try 2010...

In 1972, Hanna Barbera tried its hand again with another animated prime time cartoon. Titled ‘Wait Until Your Father Gets Home.’ The times were a-changing, and this show reflected this. In the Hanna Barbera universe, its not as well known as The Flintstones or The Jetsons. Even the art style was different, compared to the other two cartoons. Harry Boyle was the head of this household. Nah, he wasn’t dumb either. If anything, he was just bewildered by the social changes taking place.

Steal This Blog Post!

Present day, August 2010:

Welcome to the second wave of animated shows to hit prime time. It started again in 1989, beginning with ‘The Simpsons.’

The Simpsons. Here's where animated dads start to get dumber than dumber.

Still going strong after twenty years, ‘The Simpsons’ is the longest running sitcom in American television history. When the series first started, the main focus was Bart Simpson. Along the way, the focus turned onto dim-witted Homer Simpson.

Here’s when animated dads start to become moronic. Fred Flintstone, George Jetson, etc.,…they might’ve been bungling, but never stupid. With the arrival of Homer Simpson, animated TV dads ceased to think. Why is this? One possible reason is the shift in the all-American family image. Back when The Flintstones first aired, the concept of the ‘nuclear family’ was considered idea. This was back in the 1960s. By the time 1989 rolled around, divorce statistics were up. More families were being raised by single moms. The nuclear family image was slowly giving way to (somewhat) honest realizations that many families are actually dysfunctional. Therefore, today’s animated TV dads have become beyond simpleminded.

King Of The Hill Family

The only exception might be Hank Hill from ‘King of The Hill.’ As with Fred and George, Hank might be a bit naive. Yet Hank loves his family to no end. Having a heart as big as Texas, Hank always tries to do the right thing.

Which leads us to the dumber than dumber….the dumbest dad of them all: Peter Griffin.

Family Guy. The rudest, crudest animated prime time show on today. Actually, South Park is pretty rude too. Which leads us to the burning inquiry…which show is worst: South Park or Family Guy. It’s kinda hard to tell, so its more a matter of personal preference. Personally, I like Family Guy. Who doesn’t love an alcoholic dog and some old man pedophile. Bet you if Herbert the pervert moved into your ‘hood, you’ll be calling the cops in a milli-second. Since Family Guy is beyond bad taste, Herbert fits.

Family Guy. Meet Peter Griffin, quite possibly the worst father around.

Peter Griffin. Possibly the worst father in animation history, ever. He has shit for brains, and maybe a bigger drinking problem than Brian the dog. What does Lois see in Peter? Then again, every once in a while, Lois had a bit a cruel streak (read: bitch). Supposedly Peter is an Irish-American catholic who likes to drink. How about it for those annoying stereotypes.

But you know, its all in good fun. After all, The Flintstones was originally a slight parody of The Honeymooners, Wait Until Your Father Gets Home was a slight parody of All In The Family, and Family Guy is an abrupt parody of everyone and everything.

Being a father in real life isn’t easy. Many good dads work hard at being exactly that: being a good father to their children. Yet pop culture is a small refection on society at that particular time. So the question is really this: is it that we’re tired of that perfect family image, or, have we just been more honest about how dysfunctional families truly are? Perhaps cartoon dads were always laughable, they only get more extreme as time goes by. By watching these shows, we’re only laughing at ourselves.

Just a thought…

  2 comments for “Father Knows Best…And Then He Doesn’t

  1. troy cartoonist reyes
    August 10, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    i love you witchiepoo! i loove cartoons so much i added the word to my name-yeah, my mom did not name me that! homers popularity coincides with the dumbing down of american pop culture and has led to a disrespect for fathers. i dont want to get all moral but the trend is disturbing and ongoing! cartoons, like everything else in popular culture, is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves, and right now, heck for the last few years, we have not been feeling too good! i see a lack of respect for everything everywhere, including a lack of respect for ones self. kids dressed in shabby black clothes, girls throwing themselves at anybody who will listen, boys/men not challenging themselves or any pre-convieced notions about themselves. im glad you and other people see it, its distressing! and its being played out as “humor” on cartoon shows like family guy.

  2. August 10, 2010 at 9:34 PM

    Nice overview! I think it’s worth noting, however, that maybe up until the eighth season or so of “The Simpsons”, Homer wasn’t all that stupid. (My dorm and I watched a LOT of “Simpsons” reruns, so it was easy to see his character change over the years.) In the early seasons, in fact, he’s quite intelligent, if irresponsible. Later on, at worst, he’s simply naive and impulsive.

    It’s when “Family Guy” arrived that Homer had to become stupider and stupider to compete, which is sad in many ways. (IMO, and by the way, “South Park” -which has some terrific dad-centric episodes itself- is the much better show as Trey and Matt actually, for better or worse, have things to say. At least, things to say other than, “here’s a random reference to ‘The Great Space Coaster’, LOL!”)

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