Fatherhood for Sale – The Super Bowl sells us Family.

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Fatherhood for Sale –  The Super Bowl sells us Family.

It is estimated that a 30 second super bowl spot this year costs advertisers upwards of 4.5 million dollars. With that much money riding on half a minute, you need to make sure your commercial is memorable.

Some commercials are memorable for the wrong reasons. Such as this year’s dead child Nationwide Ad, and Budweiser’s unbelievably un-aware Brewed the Hard Way ad. Both commercials harm their respective brands.

Other commercials are memorable because of their controversy and disgusting displays of sexuality. GoDaddy in previous years, and Carls Jr/Hardees commercials.

But this year the shock and awe commercials were pushed aside for more inspiring productions. Even GoDaddy had a great commercial about a business owner who was missing out on watching the game so he could tend to his business.

This year, the super bowl ads were not themed around crude sexuality or raunchy jokes. This year the theme was being a dad.

Nissan had an amazing commercial called With Dad that showed a father devoted to his family, and his families devotion to him in the midst of his dangerous racing career.

Men’s deodorant advertisements are usually known for caricatures of men with dancing pectorals screaming nonsensical ramblings in a mixture of surrealism and post-modernity. But Dove distanced themselves from Old Spices view of manhood by defining real men as fathers. In their ad #RealStength, children are happily screaming Daddy with glee as they jump into the pool or with child like fear as they cry out for help.

The most tremendous Dad-Ad of the night was Toyota Camry’s My Bold Dad in which the father is seen as a self sacrificing, teary eyed hero to his daughters.

With such great advertisements one has to ask what happened? Super Bowl commercials are normally filled with drunk, fart-joke obsessed, sex crazed men with the maturity level of a middle schooler. The frat boy, sitcom husband was not the star of this year’s advertising spectacle.

Instead, men were portrayed as righteous providers of their home and protectors of their Children. Men who gave their daughters away in Marriage and ran to their rescue in times of need. What’s happened?

I wish I could say that the emphasis of Biblical manhood in this year’s Super Bowl was a result of our nation changing course in how we view the role of fathers and marriage. But that is not the case. The purpose of advertising is to make a customer want what they don’t have, and most people in the United States don’t have intact families and strong male role models.

It’s almost depressing that I am writing about how surprising it is to see such a great emphasis on being a father in modern day advertising.

We live in a nation where more families are divorced than intact. Even riding home from the Super Bowl party last night I heard an advertisement on the radio from a law firm begging people to be free from marriage and get divorced. A father is a rare sight, precious, desired and wanted. Chances are a majority of people either want a father like that, or desire to be the father they never had. Buy a Camry to become a father who protects their children, unlike your father. Buy Dove deodorant and your children will love you, even though they despise you. Buy a Nissan and you can come home to a loving wife and child, even though you left them.

Whether it’s Apple’s 1984, Budweiser’s Clydesdales, or Coca Cola’s Mean Joe Green, the best commercials of all time invite the consumer to purchase their product as a key to open the door into their fantasy, tragically this year’s fantasy was being a normal father.

But it’s not just in television advertising. It’s in television all together.

Recently in one of the first reviews of Better Call Saul, the prequel to Breaking Bad, Esquire pointed out that the most popular, critically acclaimed series of our time have all revolved around men like’

Tony Soprano. Don Draper. Walter White. Almost everybody in The Wire. All of these men exist in the same spiritual state: They are all trying to preserve a sense of masculine virtue in a declining America that values them less and less.

And they all fail at it. Tony Soprano, Don Draper, and Walter White all succeed in destroying their once intact families and thus fail at preserving the very masculinity they seek to uphold. The article continues:

In a recent essay in The New York Times Magazine, Lili Loofbourow has made the case that that era of television, with its collapsing masculinity, is itself collapsing. In shows like Orange Is the New Black, Transparent, and Getting On, female creators are producing a new kind of televisual narrative, in which women, collectively, figure out ways to survive the collapse surrounding them.

Art is fantastically useful in revealing the worldview of a society. Our favorite dramas show men failing to be men as advertisers entice consumers to purchase products that will help them not be like their favorite protagonist parent.

Is it any wonder why our nation is falling apart? How can a nation survive if the very pillar of the nation, a strong family, only exists on polycarbonate discs of plastic on the mantel next to our favorite Disney princess fairy tails?

Cars and soap will not make families strong again. The deodorant will wash down the drain, and automobiles will crash and at the end, our nation will still be without a proper understanding of the family.

Instead let us look to Christ as the perfect representation of Biblical manhood, and the strong male role model who would die for his Bride. Only when Christ is the standard for families, will family cease to be fiction.

Want to learn more about the Christian worldview of arts and culture? Register for the God, Government and Culture Conference.
Want to learn more about the Christian worldview of arts and culture? Register for the God, Government and Culture Conference in Tempe, AZ.