When I was a child, Father’s Day meant buying my father a tie, and maybe my mother would cook something special. There wasn’t the same kind of urgency to create magnificent memories and spend a ton of cash trying to enjoy some other shade of Christmas, which is what most of these holidays have become.
Father’s Day this year has left me horribly sunburned and that kind of hungover where you question all of your life’s decisions that lead you to drink a case of Longboard over an afternoon. My reward for setting such a fantastic example for my child was being horribly awoken in the middle of the night with him shrieking in such a loud and pained manner that I thought he was being kidnapped by something with hands made of needles and fire. He was just hungry. Having our first child this year has taught me very little about fatherhood other than babies have sharp nails and are really fucking loud. He’s too young to teach anything other than holding a bottle or walking, which means my role as a father is more mammy than anything else. All the fun stuff– biking, hiking, teaching him to love Bob Dylan and hate Jimmy Buffett, is still to come.
It took me a few hours last night to fall back asleep, and in that time I thought about all those colorful father figures from entertainment that remain the unsung role models of popular culture. While they may not be considered the world’s greatest fathers, I think each taught us valuable lessons about parenthood:
1. Daniel Plainview
The alpha parent in the film classic “There Will Be Blood”, Daniel Day-Lewis takes his son hunting, teaches him about the family business, then slaps a preacher senseless when his son becomes deaf because hey, pass this on to your God.
2. That badass from Shogun Assassin
“When I was little, my father was famous. He was the greatest Samurai in the empire, and he was the Shogun’s decapitator. He cut off the heads of 131 lords for the Shogun. It was a bad time for the empire. The Shogun just stayed inside his castle and he never came out. People said his brain was infected by devils, and that he was rotting with evil. The Shogun said the people were not loyal. He said he had a lot of enemies, but he killed more people than that. It was a bad time. Everybody living in fear, but still we were happy. My father would come home to mother, and when he had seen her, he would forget about the killings. He wasn’t scared of the Shogun, but the Shogun was scared of him. Maybe that was the problem. At night, mother would sing for us, while father would go into his temple and pray for peace. He’d pray for things to get better. Then, one night the Shogun sent his ninja spies to our house. They were supposed to kill my father, but they didn’t. That was the night everything changed, forever. That was when my father left his samurai life and became a demon. He became an assassin who walks the road of vengeance. And he took me with him. I don’t remember most of this myself. I only remember the Shogun’s ninja hunting us wherever we go. And the bodies falling. And the blood.”
Every time I hear this I get chills. Liquid Swords. Bong bong. Respeck.
3. Viggo Mortensen from “The Road” / Rick Grimes from “The Walking Dead”
They’re pretty much the same thing– fathers towing a difficult moral line while attempting to keep their sons alive in a post-apocalyptic hellscape, but Viggo Mortensen gets an edge for being cold as frickin’ ice:
4. Darth Vader
This one is a no-brainer.
Technically he did have a son. This little thing called “Minilla”. When Toho wanted to court a younger audience, they created this unbelievably annoying dough boy humanoid believing that children would daydream about playing with Minilla on Monster Island. Of course, a baby Godzilla would be the size of a Macy’s, so they gave him shape-shifting powers that allow him to become child-size and also talk with a goofy, Barney voice. What makes Godzilla such a great father is that he can’t stand what an annoying pussy his son is, so he kicks him or steps on his tail in order to bring out his destructive tendencies.
6. Jack Nicholson in “The Shining”
In the right context, “The Shining” is about a father attempting to save his mentally disturbed son from his overly permissive wife. Or, if you watch the film “Room 237“, it’s about Indians, Nazis, Minotaurs, and America faking the moon landing.
7. Liam Neeson in “Taken”
Liam Neeson will stop at nothing to rescue his 30something teenage daughter.
8. Emperor Marcus Aurelius from “Gladiator”
Commodus is a massive prick who wants to be Emperor, so his father, Marcus Aurelius, tricks him into traveling from Rome to Germany (back when travel was even worse than it is today) just so he can tell him to piss off:
9. Don Draper
I’ve discussed this before, but Don Draper is probably the closest thing to Superman we’ll have in a portrayal of a realistic world. A drunken, womanizing, slick talking ad man (and let’s face it, con artist), he’s like that dad in the song “House of the Rising Sun”.
10. That dad in the song “House of the Rising Sun”
Parents should encourage their kids to make art.