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Dingus of the Week: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Things you can do in a small town
This week, auto nepo baby, Dale Earnhardt Jr., picked a fight with the children’s cartoon Bluey. And look, as someone who has a seven-year-long beef with Paw Patrol, I understand the inclination to get irritated at kid’s shows. After all, the pants situation on most of those characters is chaotic at best. And why is it so often that a kid of indeterminate age with a pack of wild animals has to run entire cities? What kind of chaotic system of governance is this? Don’t even get me started on Curious George, where a monkey, who was literally enslaved and is now owned by a yellow-hat-wearing-trust-fund-baby, is allowed to destroy priceless historical finds, and roams the city with no supervision. Gnocchi the cat is good though. Because he taught entire generations of kids (and parents) how to pronounce gnocchi.
But that’s not Dale Jr.’s beef with Bluey. He has no systemic problems with the pants or city governance on the show. Junior’s problem is that the dad on Bluey is involved in his kids’ lives. Junior is irked that a cartoon character father actually likes spending time with his kids. Here is what he said:
"But we watch ‘Bluey’ and the kids are like, ‘Come on, Dad, do this. Come on, Dad, pretend this.’ So every episode, my kids watch ‘Bluey’ and see the dad is like the kids’ best friend. Always available. Always there. Anytime they want the dad to get in on the fun or to play, he’s never too busy," he said.
"He’s never got to go to work. He’s never got this thing he’s got to do or he’s never mowing the lawn and whatever, right? It’s always, ‘Yep, you got it. I’m gonna do what the kids want me to do and pretend with them.’ So my girls, mainly Isla (who just turned 5), they have the same expectation of me."
First of all, the dad on Bluey, has a name and it’s Bandit. And for those of you who don’t know, Bandit is an archeologist and he goes to work, pitches in with household chores, and plays with his kids.
And they have very imaginative games. But like, are you listening to yourself, Junior? You are mad that a kid’s show portrays a father as a good man?
In an article on Fatherly.com, a writer, who is a father complains that Bandit has to give up playing rugby to have time for his family. This man writes with absolutely no sense of gendered irony:
The implication is that Bandit — and by extension, all of us parents watching — know that we have to give up the things we personally enjoy to make space for our children and to support our partners. This is true in some ways, but it’s perhaps dangerous and irresponsible to give weight to the idea that becoming a parent means you have to say goodbye to your old life and your old personality.
*Me taking a drag of my cigarette* Yeah, dudes, sure would suck to have society expect that you literally toss your body onto a pyre of home and family to be a good parent. Absolutely a crying shame if all the media and cultural depictions of your specific parental role, showed you as giving up everything for your children and if you held onto one thing that interfered with that time you were called “selfish” and accused of harming your children.
Let’s just check in with the statistics and facts here to see which parent is expected to do all this giving up and work…ope. Hold on.
In breadwinner mother/at-home father couples, differences in housework time depend on whether breadwinner mothers are at work on a given day. On their days off, breadwinner mothers do more housework than at-home fathers, spending as much time doing housework as at-home mothers. By contrast, at-home mothers appear to do more housework daily whether breadwinner fathers are at work or not.
This burden is on top of longstanding divides in who does care work inside the home: 2021 data from the American Time Use Survey indicates that mothers of children under age six spend an average of 2.8 hours per day on childcare, over 70 percent more time than fathers report.
Married working mothers of children younger than 18 often struggle with work-life balance and feeling like there aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish all that they must at work and at home. Majorities of them say they are still primarily doing most of the household chores that were "women's work" in the age when mothers didn't work outside the home.
For parents with children under 13, women spent at least twice the amount of time than men did juggling both childcare and household activities, as well as childcare and personal care-related activities.
I realize these statistics don’t reflect the world of Bluey but wow, do they reflect the actual reality that Dale Jr. is living in.
I spent many years writing a mom blog and writing for parenting websites. And there is a tendency in those spaces to use the term “parents” instead of “mother” or “father”, and this is good. Gender-neutral language is inclusive and there are many ways to be a parent that exist outside of the binary. And yet, we cannot ignore the way that the work of parenting is still largely gendered. And often, I think language like that gives cis het men a way of shirking responsibility. “Look at the pressure put on parents!” They say. When the reality is, my men, the pressure is on mothers.
And you’d be better off acknowledging this reality.
Listen, the entire weight of our culture demands that mothers give up everything to manage chores, children, and work. The data bears this out. And the ONE TIME, the literal ONLY TIME, a kids’ show positively depicts a dad making time to play imagination games with his kids, you suddenly have a problem with society’s “expectations on parents.” Absolutely grow up. Turnabout is fair play, my men.
Also, this is a positive role model of what a father can be. It’s a show showing a father as something besides being a beer-drinking, curmudgeonly, and lightly absent screw-up! That seems great!
Anyway, women don’t even have equal pay, and here you are whining because a cartoon dad enjoys spending time with his kids. Grow up.
Dale Jr., sir, just hire a lawn service and play Barbies with your girls, it’s not that hard.
As a mother, even when I was married I did 80 percent of the yard work (the other 20 being mowing) and 90 percent of the childcare. Even then, I found time to do yard work because I simply bought my kids tiny rakes and shovels and had them help. Like, my man, you can’t show your kids how to water the flowers?
But it’s actually not about being too busy to spend time with your kids, it’s actually about not wanting to spend time with your kids. Which, is actually fine, it’s okay to want a break. Do you know what I do when I tell my kids I want a break? I say, this has been so fun, but I need a bit of a break. It’s not complicated. But do not blame Bluey because you want to hop on your riding mower and avoid your kids all day or take a 45-minute poop in the bathroom.
Anyway, here is Ryan Gosling talking about how his daughters play with Barbie.
“They don’t even call him Ken. One of them is named Darrell. And Darrell works at a grocery store,” Gosling said.
As for Barbie, Amada and Esmeralda decided to name her “Gym Class.”
“And Gym Class met Darrell at the grocery store, but Gym Class, she’s focusing on herself right now,” the proud dad explained.
Runner Up: Jason Aldean
As you may know, this May, country singer Jason Aldean came out with a song about how in big cities people just walk around defacing public property and backhanding cops in the face. And how he double-dog dare’s you to try that in a small town.
A lot of people have had a lot to say about Aldean’s lyrics. Namely, they promote vigilantism and violence, and if your cops need a bunch of dudes with shotguns to protect them from the hordes, maybe you need different cops? Also, fact-check, small towns are not more peaceful than cities.
But the real point missing here is what actually happens in small towns. Listen,it’s not all white guys and guns. As my friend and co-host of the Flyover Discord,, wrote in his newsletter , small towns are actually diverse with a lot of things going on. For example, sometimes in small town John Lithgow will prohibit kids from dancing, and sometimes men drink beer and sell propane and propane accessories.
While Garrett’s list is amazing, I’d like to add a few things to that list of what you actually do in a small town.
Hang out with a bunch of blonde creepy-looking kids and a malevolent entity known as “He Who Walks Behind Rows.”
Murder a violent man trying to kidnap his son, butcher his body, and serve it up as BBQ at your roadside cafe.
Lose the state basketball tournament because the other team has a dog who can dunk.
So, as you can see, small-town America is a vast expansive place full of ritual murder and basketball-playing dogs.
And Now For Something Good:
Charles Barkley isn’t afraid to be canceled. At a recent golf tournament he had these pointed words to say: “I ain’t worried about getting canceled because let me tell you something, if y’all fire me and give me all that money, I’m gonna be playing golf every fucking day…“If you’re gay, God bless you. If you’re trans, God bless you. And if you have a problem with them — fuck you.”
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What I Am Drinking:
I saw the Barbie movie last night and it’s one of the most hilariously, deranged, romps of a movie I have ever seen. I loved it so much.
Both in function and in form the Barbie movie captures that dissonant space of womanhood — of managing so many expectations and wants and human needs, and doing it imperfectly. And we never get it right, do we? Our politics are bad. Our capitalism is bad. Our exhaustion means we are perfectly incapable of the perfection expected of us. But more importantly, it was a fun movie. It was just sheer goddamn glorious glittery pink champagne cocktail tottering heels deranged rompy fun. God. When was the last time we just had some fun?
The best place in the world was the bathroom right after the movie, it was just filled with happy women in pink, faces glowing. Everyone seemed a little deranged and relieved like someone had taken a weight away we didn’t know we were carrying.
I will have more to say on all of this. But listen. This weekend, we are drinking champagne cocktails. We are taking a perfectly cheap sparkling white wine, topping it with a fruit juice or simple syrup, and a bit of club soda. I am sure you know this, but you can make your own simple syrups and you can literally put anything in them. I’ll be making lavender simply syrup.