Posts Tagged ‘ American ’

The Relevant Rise Of Bronies: Neo-Masculinity

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

3 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

I felt it was my duty to try to understand the “bronies” movement.

All I knew is that there are apparently young men (typically ages 18 to 35) who are legitimate fans of the kids’ TV show, “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.”

“Bro’s” and “ponies” equals “bronies.”

The thing that makes bronies so interesting is that… (I’m trying to think of an appropriate, inoffensive, non-judgmental, politically correct, social media friendly way to say it)…

They’re not of any particular demographic; especially not the one that most people might assume. In fact, according to this brony survey (page 7), 70% of bronies… (How can I again safely and appropriately say this?) … 70% of bronies like girls.

Most bronies, other than liking a TV show that was intended for little girls, are not necessarily otherwise into “countercultural” things. I learned this when I saw the documentary “Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans Of My Little Pony” on Netflix.

As I watched the documentary, seeing the bronies made me think of Star Wars fans, or Star Trek fans, or comic book fans.

From what I can see, bronies are pretty much just regular dudes who happen to really appreciate the acceptance of all people, as well as love and good morals… lessons I remember from the 1980s animated version of The Smurfs.

(Though most male fans of the show are older, there are younger male fans as well. Just recently, the story of 9 year-old Grayson Bruce went viral, when his mom claimed that school officials banned his brony backpack because it was a trigger for bullying.)

Again, I felt it was my duty, as the dad of a son who for all I know may be interested in being a brony one day, to check out “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” for myself.

So I watched the first episode.

And it wasn’t really my thing. However, I think I can personally relate to where bronies are coming from…

I remember in high school thinking how it would be cool in a nostalgic way to put a rainbow sticker on the back window of my Bronco II.

Simply because rainbows are happy and make me think of the 1980s… like the famous PBS painter Bob Ross and his “happy little clouds.”

But then I realized that’s not how it would be perceived by most people. I didn’t want to have to keep explaining myself over and over what the rainbow simply meant to me personally, so I decided to the leave the rainbow alone.

Instead, when I graduated 15 years ago in 1999, I walked the stage in my yellow Saucony Jazz running shoes, which I happen to still own and even wore today to the Vanderbilt scrimmage football game. Those shoes are, in a way, my version of a rainbow sticker.

They were my way of personally “disidentifying” with the extremes of American masculinity, as a man.

Still today, if I were forced to choose between identifying as a butch or a femme to decribe myself, which I feel is the way the mainstream media portrays men in the polarized society I believe we live in, I would choose neither:

I would chose brony. I would choose to be the male protagonist of the Nicholas Sparks book. I would choose to be Jim Halpert from The Office. Or Peeta from The Hunger Games.

In other words, I embrace neo-masculinity. It’s a natural and relevant combination of being both sensitive and masculine, which is what I know I have to be, as an active and involved father to you and husband to Mommy.

I like the way Lauren Faust, the developer of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, stated this concept in the documentary Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans Of My Little Pony:

“We need to allow men to be sensitive and to care about one another and not call them weak for caring.”

Okay then. I’ve done the homework. I don’t fear you becoming a brony one day. I understand and appreciate what they represent. 

Until then, I’ll continue teaching you why Captain America is actually the coolest.

Love, Daddy

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Lords of the Playground: Babble
Lords of the Playground: Babble
Lords of the Playground: Babble

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Teaching An American 2 Year-Old To Kiss Like A European

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

2 years, 1 months.

Dear Jack,

Every night before we put you to bed, you know you have to kiss Mommy and me goodnight.

Right now, we’re helping you figure out how to do it just right.

“No tongue, Jack!”

That’s what Mommy has to remind you because you have this habit; instead of kissing us, you lick us, like you’re a puppy.

The goal is for us to kiss each other on the cheek, not the lips.

But several times now, you have leaned in to me with your mouth open like you’re about to take a big bite out of an ice cream cone.

Please know how hard it is for me not to laugh when you do that, but I know I can’t afford to as I’m trying to get you into sleep mode.

There’s this concept in my head of you and I kissing each other on the cheek as we say hello and goodbye, even as we get older.

I know that may sound a little bizarre at first; mainly because it is. Because we’re Americans living in America.

If we were in Italy or France, it probably wouldn’t be that weird.

Just picture us, 20 years from now, wearing cabbie hats as we greet each other with open arms and a classic European father-son kiss on the cheek.

(Just saying that out loud seems so un-American; like the kind of thing that Paul Rudd would do unsuccessfully in a Judd Apatow movie.)

But that’s how I imagine us; being totally comfortable with being physically affectionate.

Granted, it’s to be done with discretion; not the kind of thing to be executed in front of your friends when you’re in the 6th grade. After all, I’m no helicopter parent nor do I want to be associated with the term “attachment parenting.’

Aside from what I see as unfavorable extremes, I just want it to be normal for a dad to kiss his son hello, goodbye, and goodnight; even if it comes across as European.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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What We Can Learn (and Disregard) From French Parents

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

14 months.

There is a lot of buzz going on right now about a book called Bringing Up Bebe, by Pamela Druckerman, insinuating that the French are better than us Americans at being parents.

My question isn’t whether or not the French are better at raising kids, because not only is “better” a relative term, but it is also pretty generic.

So instead, I’m willing to learn, in what ways the French are perceived as better than we are at parenting. On the flip side, how are Americans better at it?

To educate myself on the subject, I read a blog post written by Paige Bradley Frost, an American woman raising her children in Paris. She shares:

“We therefore define ‘good parenting’ in vastly different ways. A ‘good mother’ in the U.S. (a virtually unattainable state of grace) is, by definition, a deeply involved and engaged mother. A sit-on-the-floor, clap your hands, dig in the sandbox, finger painting kind of gal.”

She goes on to explain that our self-sacrificing, American version of parenting is considered to be “absurd” by the French, who are more structured and less hands-on in raising their children.

From what I am gathering, it appears we as Americans would view the French as cold, militant parents whose children are well-behaved yet practically unloved. Meanwhile, the French view American parents as overly involved to the point our kids don’t respect our authority as they should.

This excerpt is taken from the book description for Bringing Up Bebe:

“…The French children Druckerman knows sleep through the night at two or three months old while those of her American friends take a year or more. French kids eat well-rounded meals that are more likely to include braised leeks than chicken nuggets. And while her American friends spend their visits resolving spats between their kids, her French friends sip coffee while the kids play.”

Based on my experience as an American dad who is extremely observant of what other parents say on Facebook and in parenting blog comments, I would say that most American parents truly desire a balance between the two stereotypes.

We don’t want to be “that parent” who lets their kid run around crazy inside a TJ Maxx, tossing out empty threats of discipline but never following through.

Nor do we want to be uninvolved and apathetic in our children’s personal interests, forcing them to take piano lessons and making all their decisions for them.

I don’t want to be a stereotypical parent, whether it’s French or American. But I do want the best of both worlds in parenting: structured and disciplined yet affectionate and open to my child’s individuality.

As a stereotypical young American who believes I can do anything I put my heart in, I believe I can live in this mythical middle ground.

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The Peculiar Rise of Outspoken Evangelical Christians in 2011

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

13 months.

I don’t even watch sports, nor do I have cable, but yet still I have been unable to ignore the relevance of the 24 year-old quarterback for the Denver Broncos; Mr. Tim Tebow.

Even I know that this guy, according to Wikipedia, inspired 92 million people to Google “John 3:16″ after he wore the phrase in his eye paint during the 2009 BCS Championship Game. Then in 2010 for the Super Bowl, he starred in a pro-life commercial for Focus on the Family.

Since then his popularity, along with the public’s knowledge of his Christian faith, has grown big enough for me, Mr. “I Don’t Care About Sports,” to know all about this Tebow guy. Love him or hate him; he’s totally relevant in American pop culture now.

Just mention his name on your Facebook wall and see what happens.

Of course, Tebow isn’t the only outspoken evangelical Christian to continually make headline news this year.

Sure, they may make their own clothes from time to time, but the Duggars are cool. America has come around to realize this. The authenticity of this family’s love for one another, as well as for others, is undeniable. I think that’s one of the reasons America is fascinated with them.

What may have started as a “let’s watch the modern day Waltons” concept on TLC back in 2008 has officially become a staple for the network. While earlier in the year I heard many people making comments like “When are they finally going to stop having babies?” many of those same people now feel an authentic sense of sadness as the Duggars have recently went public with the knowledge of their recent miscarriage.

From financial guru Dave Ramsey to blogger-turned-author Jon Acuff (Stuff Christians Like and Quitter), born-again Christians are sneaking into mainstream American pop culture with relevance, therefore gaining the respect of not only Christians, but also (maybe even more importantly) those who do not claim a religious stance.

I feel like it wasn’t always this way. It could have something to do with the fact that less Americans identify themselves as Christians compared to prior decades. Therefore, “Christian” has become less of a generic term in our society. So while agnostics and atheists have become more respected and accepted by the general population, so have Christians.

Honestly, I like it better this way. We can all be truthful about who we really are now.

These days, if you take the effort to identify as a follower of Christ, I think it means more than ever before. But if you do, people definitely expect you to be different. In fact, it seems the main problem people seem to have with Christians is when they’re not different enough from mainstream society.

Here on The Dadabase, does the fact that I’m an evangelical Christian make a difference in my writing? Does it season my viewpoint accordingly? Does it even make a difference? Is that part relevant in the society of today’s parents? Do people even want my Christian perspective on being a dad?

I’m hoping the answer is yes.

The tricky part is, Christians are supposed to be humble. How can any Christian in the mainstream spotlight be open about their faith, have a solid opinion about anything, and still be perceived as a sincere Christian? In essence, the term Christian celebrity is an oxymoron.

That’s what I truly call “the Tebow complex.”

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Santa Claus and Other White Lies We Tell Our Kids

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

One year.

With good reason, I’ve never been able to legitimately process the double standard of leading a child to believe in Santa Claus while at the same time teaching them not to lie.

It’s interesting how far we have had to stretch the lies, just like with any outrageous falsehood, in order to keep kids believing.

“How does Santa fit down the chimney? How does he fit all the toys in his sleigh? How does he travel the whole world overnight?”

(Insert ridiculous answers here.)

Yes, the legend of Santa Claus was born of Christian folklore, so as a predominately Christian nation, we can rest assured knowing that jolly ole St. Nick has accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. He has been confirmed, baptized, and even has a tattoo of John 3:16 on his arm.

Yet we can’t deny that in the way John Lennon once infamously claimed that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, the fame of Santa arguably is greater than the actual reason Christmas came to be celebrated in the first place: the birth of Jesus as the prophesied Messiah of the Old Testament.

But can we really get caught up in this particular double standard? Aren’t there other white lies we tell our kids to either A) comfort them or B) entertain them? Yup.

A very traditional white lie I’ve heard parents tell their kids is that when a loved one dies, in particular a grandparent, that person becomes an angel who watches over them in Heaven.

Sorry, the Bible doesn’t say that. I don’t know of any popular religion that actually does.

Besides, what does that even mean? How does Grandpa Murphy “watch over” your kid? Does he part the clouds, look down and see little Jaxon about to run over a stick while riding his bike, so Grandpa sends a few of his buddy angels to kick the stick out of the way just in time, saving Jaxon from crashing his bike?

Sure, the Bible says that there are guardian angels, but we don’t actually become them ourselves after entering Heaven. So it’s a white lie.

It’s a similar thing when a beloved pet dies. Yeah, all dogs go to Heaven, just like that movie that came out when I was in 2nd grade. Cats? Yeah, them too. The goldfish? That’s debatable. Now, let’s stop asking so many questions and finish eating this delicious Hamburger Helper dinner.

Don’t worry, we “helped” that cow go to Heaven quicker and meet all his cow family that were part of those burgers we grilled out last weekend.

Image: Traditional Santa Clause via Shutterstock.

Unexpected Bonus!

Want to read more on the subject? Today I am giving away a copy of the new book, Christmas is Not Your Birthday, to one lucky and curious reader. The book’s author, Mike Slaughter, is the lead pastor of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio.

Through his church’s annual Christmas Miracle Offering, over $5 million has been raised for humanitarian relief in Darfur. If you ask me, this guy sounds like a real life Santa Claus. Not one that gives toys to kids, but instead someone who helps keep them from dying.

Just be the first person to A) leave a comment on this post saying you want it and B) send me an email including your mailing address to nickshell1983@hotmail.com

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