The obvious perspective on how the media treats dads is that fathers tend to be portrayed as bunglers or incompetent in their roles. However, what I keep coming upon, which is perhaps even more unhelpful are the stories told about absentee dads being redeemed by (typically) their grown sons. It's a message that keeps popping up again and again.
This entry was sparked by my last night viewing of Wanted in which a son must learn to become an assassin in order to avenge the death of his absentee father, who, unbeknownst to him, was one of the world's deadliest assassins. Sounds kind of like Luke and his dad, doesn't it? Or then there the last two Indiana Jones films. Or the last Die Hard film (okay, it was a daughter in that one.) A son must redeem his absentee father by becoming, in a sense, just like him.
I have to admit to you that I'm one of the biggest geeks when it comes to Star Wars and Indiana Jones, by the way. There's nothing wrong with the message that it's never too late to reconnect with one's kids. I do see the value in this storyline. However, the problem is that more often than not, this is approach so many of Hollywood's stories are taking.
The way I see it, the subtle message here is that it's okay to be an absentee father while one's kid is young because later on, when everyone's older, you can get back in touch, so don't worry about how you don't have time for your kids now.
I suppose the other reason I'm annoyed by this is the experience of recently filming a father who had been heavily into the '70's New York scene of sex, drugs and rock and roll and who found salvation in becoming an involved dad. It's incredibly moving to be interviewing this dad and his family. Literally, fatherhood saved this guy's life. I suppose it might not be as sexy as learning that one's absentee dad was an assassin but let me tell you, listening to this dad talking about his experience will bring tears to your eyes - at least that's what it did for me.