[Note: The first several posts will be back-dated, as they were written before we were telling people we were pregnant]
This year’s Super Bowl was a special kind of bad.
It was the kind of bad that’s almost embarrassing to watch; like being in the room while a co-worker gets chewed out or listening to the couple at the table next to you break up. I watched a little past halftime, and then went home to catch Downton Abbey (because even the Granthams could have beaten Denver that night). Before I left, though, this commercial came on:
I was floored. Even watching it again for the 30th time, I still get chills and the urge to dude-mist. The amazing thing is that this commercial isn’t relying on “big” moments. This isn’t dad coming home from the army or walking his daughter down the aisle, so why is it so powerful to me?
One easy answer is that it’s so genuine. There’s nothing tongue-in-cheek here. The story is simple and sweet: Dad Saves the Day. That’s not to say the commercial is humorless, but you only need to contrast it with last year’s dad-theemed Super Bowl ad to see the difference in tone.
To be clear: I’m not saying the Doritos ad is bad (I actually think it’s pretty clever), it’s just a good indicator of how fatherhood is evolving in our culture. The Sit-com Era wasn’t really sure what to do with dads outside of comic relief, so it’s refreshing to see such a genuine take.
The other reason has to do with this idea of saving the day. I think most guys come hard wired with the urge to protect others. There’s something deep inside us that wants to stand in the gap; to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. But in today’s culture it’s not often venerated outside of the fantastic. Your average male hero fantasy usually involves mutant superpowers or quantities of ammunition that would put Jesse Venture to shame.
I like the Hyundai commercial because it snaps us back to why that urge is there in the first place. Most dads will never stop a bank robbery or blow up the Death Star, but every dad can be there for their kid. The little moments from the commercial; THOSE are why that urge to protect exists, and THOSE are ultimately more fulfilling than any hero fantasy.
It’s cool to see us as a culture starting to get that (hey, you know something is a real trend when marketers start pandering to it), and I’m willing to bet you’ll see more and more “small” dad moments in media. Keep an eye out!