June 28, 2013 at 11:57 pm , by Nick Shell
2 years, 7 months.
Have I ever had to apologize for a misunderstood satirical comment I’ve made in social media? Yes.
To publish a 400 word blog post 25 times a month puts me in a potentially vulnerable and dangerous situation. So I am trying to be compassionate with the people responsible for the current Clorox fiasco/social media nightmare.
After all, some people are having the worst week ever (!) right now and I would hate to come across as a bully.
So in order to explain what happened, I’ll start with the beginning… no, actually it would make more sense to start with the most recent part of the story. Here’s what Clorox posted on Facebook today:
“As you may have seen we recently removed a website article, ‘New Dads’, that was a part of a series of humor pieces on modern parenting. It was never our intention to diminish the important role of dads. The dad who wrote the piece for us actually was trying to poke fun at the caricature of ‘the hapless dad.’ To some of you it didn’t come across that way and we apologize. We’ve been talking with many of you throughout the day and appreciate the feedback.”
You may be wondering what the removed article said. Well, even though it was “removed,” I still found it, right here.
I do want to point out some of the article’s most offensive/bizarre lines. The most infamous and most quoted one is found in the introduction:
“Like dogs or other house pets, new Dads are filled with good intentions but lacking the judgment and fine motor skills to execute well.”
The article soon warns that new dads may put clothing on their child backwards and that “hip-hop fashions should wait a couple of years.”
Then there’s the weird line about exposing infants to reality TV shows, referring to the “colorful moving yell-box.”
And comparing an infant’s eating habits to “a spastic Harlem Shake dancer.”
Mmm… and then the reference to The Hangover movie… I guess:
“Casino: Some new dads have been inspired by raunchy comedies to bring babies to inappropriate places like casinos, pool halls, and poetry readings. None of these places are healthy for baby. If Dad needs persuading, just tell him that babies are terrible tippers and can never make bank shots.”
(I’m going to pretend I didn’t just see the phrase “poetry readings.”)
This Clorox story is viral right now because so many people see this thing as offensive. Sure, I totally see where they’re coming from. In fact, my friend at 8BitDad, Zach Rosenberg, points at why this “humor piece” is not sitting well with a lot of parents:
“The problem is that these toxic images and jokes at the expense of dads do a couple of things: they continue the ignorant thinking that only mothers can care for babies. These images attempt to widen the divide between moms and dads – where dad is forced to be one of the kids and mom is burdened with all of the housework. These images discourage fathers from being the best that they can be – hey, if Clorox thinks dads shouldn’t touch the baby, maybe we should skip the grueling newborn phase, dump the baby on mom and go hang out with our buddies? Where does that leave us?”
I totally agree!
At the same time, I personally struggle with finding the Clorox article to be offensive; mainly because I’m so distracted at the very bizarre attempt at humor.
Clorox is evidently currently protecting the identify of the freelance writer who wrote it, but I can’t help but get the feeling that the dad doesn’t have much experience blogging in regards to parenting.
I assume it’s common knowledge in the parenting blogging community that it’s beyond taboo to insult either moms or dads, as a group. Sure, you can make fun of yourself, as an individual parent, but not an entire gender; even in satire.
The tone of the Clorox ad is so literally unbelievable and unnatural that I actually wondered if it was an Internet troll that hacked the Clorox website somehow.
In their Facebook apology, Clorox proclaims, “To some of you it didn’t come across that way and we apologize.”
Well, uh… it’s just that usually there’s some kind of hint that something is satire, if it truly is intended to be. However, nothing about the article hints at being satirical… or more importantly, even funny.
I’ve spent the past 24 hours reading related articles (and comments on those articles) and I’ve yet to find one person who thought the article was actually humorous.
Is it offensive? Yes, to many.
Is it funny? No… in fact, it’s so awkward, I’m going to back away now while smiling and nodding my head…