It's Father's Day, and ordinarily I'd be putting together a list of the worst movie and TV dads to mark the occasion. But this year, it's kind of hard for me to get into the spirit of that, because a pair of real life celebrity dads have disgraced themselves more than any fictional character could. I'm talking, of course, about Jim-Bob Duggar and Bill Cosby.
There's not much I can add to what's already been said about Duggar. His decision, upon learning that four of his daughters were being sexually abused by his son, to do less than nothing shows what an awful person he is. And yes, I know his wife Michelle shares in the blame, but since they belong to a church that places women below men, I'm guessing he was the one who had final say. They're both assholes, as is Josh, and the people rushing to defend the family (I'm looking at you, Doug Giles), especially the ones who are acting butthurt that 19 and Counting was taken off the air. If any show deserves to be canceled, it's that one. How can anyone possibly view its sunny depiction of family values the same way, knowing what we now know. It's hard enough to do that with The Cosby Show, and that family is purely fictional.
Which brings me to its star. During the show's run, even at the height of its popularity, Bill Cosby refused to submit his name for Emmy consideration, while still accepting nominations for "serious" dramatic roles. His publicly stated reason was that playing the lovable, "perfect" sitcom dad Cliff Huxtable wasn't "real" acting. Turns out though, he was actually giving the performance of his life. Except for the episode where Cliff grills his daughter Denise's new husband about whether she was still a virgin on their wedding day. That was definitely all Cosby, and not his character.
Perhaps by next Father's Day, I'll be able to deliver my usual would-be-clever take on fictional bad dads. But this year, I'd rather tell a story about my own dad, Bill Sr., who passed away in 1988 at age 55. Back in the Olden Days (by which I mean the early '80's) when our family first got a VCR, there were really only two types of movies my brothers would rent: Shitty horror films (nothing I'd actually want to watch) and porn (also, nothing I'd actually want to watch.) One of the worst horror flicks they rented was a piece of sludge called I Spit On Your Grave. For those of you who haven't seen it (and, barring some unimagined streak of masochism, that probably includes most of you), it features Camille Keaton (who is related to Buster Keaton in some way, I can't remember how) as a woman who is brutally raped by four men (shown in graphic, disgusting detail in three different scenes) and proceeds to turn the tables on them, killing them all (show in graphic, disgusting detail in four different scenes.) In one such act of revenge, the woman lures the guy into her bathtub. Once they're both in, she reaches for a knife, slices the guy's nuts off, and leaves him to bleed to death.
My dad was passing through the living room at the exact moment this scene was playing out. He watched it to its gory conclusion and, without missing a beat, quipped, "Well, that doesn't leave much room for a tourniquet", and then exited.
Happy Father's Day, Dad! I miss you.
Sing us out, Jeff Stone.
-Bill S., Jr.