If your partner has a penchant for TV shows portraying ‘father figures’ as the belching, beer-drinking, welded-to-the-couch-bellowing-obscenities aspirational archetype (think The Simpsons, Modern Family, Family Guy and South Park), you might want to switch channels before you make babies…
New research reveals that – surprise, surprise – the stereotypes we see on screen subliminally shape our view of what’s normal — and acceptable.
Researchers from the University of Michigan concluded that first-time expectant fathers are particularly susceptible to media messages about the nature of fatherhood.
Even if those messages are coming from the most ludicrous of sources. (Stan’s dad , I’m looking at you.)
Patty Kuo and co-author L. Monique Ward’s found that when studying media effects on first-time parents-to-be, men were more likely to become influenced by portrayals of gender and parental dynamics:
“Our findings show that within the broader social context that under-prepares men for fatherhood, men are especially vulnerable to negative media messages about fathers,” Kuo said in the study’s release. Kuo explained that television shows often portray men as “emotionally unavailable, bumbling and incompetent.”
The research project gathered survey responses from 201 participants who documented their daily viewing habits. They found that not only did men watch more TV than their female counterparts —over 30 hours a week on average— but they also perceived a more realistic element in TV shows than women did.
Still; surely the guys get that the majority of these shows are…satirical?
“Although the portrayals of these men as fathers are negative, the overall portrayals of these fathers as men are attractive because they portray these men as powerful, dominant or sexually virile,” explain Kuo and Ward.
The researchers concluded that male viewers are at risk of taking in the gendered messages from these shows.
Obviously, in the real world, everyone is flawed; gone are The Brady Bunch days ‘coz no one is buying it.
Of course, we also simply love to watch others suck at life (at least on celluloid) – it makes us feel better about our own failures; but it also sets the bar pretty low.
Perhaps a bit of Brady Bunch now and then ain’t so bad after all…