As I indicated below, I have not yet seen the movie Spanglish but much that is being said about it, makes it sound like it is bucking the trend of portraying men and fathers as loveable idiots or "doofus dads" as Maggie Gallagher called them. So maybe I’ll see it.
But what I’m really interested in is what is at the root of the trend to portray men in such a negative light. It used to just be good fun to pull down the father or figure of authority for a good joke or two--to prove he’s got a softer side and can laugh at himself. But there was still an air of respect. Today, it has gone too far. If men are not sheer evil, then they must be morons. There is hardly ever a portrayal of a truly admirable or John Wayne type of man. Why? I think I have an idea.
I think it comes from something feminism has done to our culture. It has left women so de-feminized that they feel incredibly insecure. And this is understandable because only a truly feminine woman who is comfortable in her own skin can handle a real man. Thus, women of today, by and large, find real men distasteful (or, as they might say, "arrogant") because they dont know what to do with them. A whole generation of women has grown up without the armor necessary to feel secure around these men. So the portrayal of men as "doofuses" and "loveable idiots" is something akin to nervous laughter. If we cannot actually tame men, we have to find a way to make light of the situation. But this leaves so many women feeling incredibly unfulfilled. And they are! There is a hole in their soul where the love and comfort of a man should be. Who really wants to be loved by a doofus?! It may be better than nothing, but its not incredibly empowering!
Unfortunately for many women of my generation, they are going to find that nervous laughter and making light of serious situations is only a stop-gap measure. Eventually they will have to confront the sad situation that they are creating in their homes and in their lives and they may--like the Tea Leone character described by Mr. Moser from Spanglish find that their insecurity and lack of self-esteem is just "good common sense." One can only hope that the men treated in this manner react as the Sandler character does and not in the more mortal way which would give these women something real to fear.