Becoming A Dad Changes The Characters You Relate To
I've been contributing to this site for a few years now. If you've stuck with Cracked since 2013, there's a good chance that you've probably read a dumb-dumb thing that I've had to say about Batman, Pikachu, or Jurassic Park. And for the most part, those articles came from a single dork in his 20s and then later a married dork in his 20s. Look through some of my old columns and it probably seeps through every sentence. "BUT WHAT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND IS THAT THE SECOND ACT OF THE DARK KNIGHT RISES IS ACTUALLY A METAPHOR FOR CHRISTOPHER NOLAN'S CAREER" or whatever reeks of a dude whose closest exposure to children is watching the final scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
But y'all, things have changed. Last year, I had a son, and he's awesome. You go your whole life thinking that you'll never have kids because you're a weird creative type who can barely remember to wash his socks and has deep-rooted opinions on the works of William Faulkner and then you're blessed with one, and you know what? Screw younger Daniel. Last weekend, I put some anime openings on TV, and my little boy waved his arms around and danced to them. It was the best.
One thing has changed, though. As someone who's filtered most of his life through pop culture, I no longer relate to the people I figured I'd spend my whole life relating to. Like when you start a new sitcom, see the dorky trope they wheel out into the streets of New York City and think, "Oh, that character is supposed to be me. I guess I'll relate to some of his arcs." I'm no longer that guy. Instead, I'm that guy six seasons later when he's moved out of his old apartment and is now dealing with marriage stuff and a mortgage and babies. Whatever squabbles I had about Green Lantern are still there, but for the most part, my laugh track comes from me saying, "Yeah, I got some sleep last night. Ya know, between the crying the pooping ... BUT THE KID SLEPT JUST FINE."
I mean, I can still relate to the struggles of the younger lead characters. One of the beautiful things about fictional dudes like Peter Parker is that what they experience is universal. Worried about money? Feeling insecure? Thinking that the responsibilities that you carry might be too much? There's no "Must be under 30 Years to ride" sign on the cover of an issue of Spider-Man.
But now, whenever I watch Spider-Man and I see Peter fumble through every interaction known to man, I get it because I'm clumsy and terrible too. But when Uncle Ben (Not a Dad, but definitely a father figure) is telling him how much power he has and how he looks at Peter with so much love and endearment? I can't help but relate to it in a way that I never have before. I want my son to be a good person, to take care of others, to be kind and helpful and honest. And I want to be the kind of role model and father that better facilitates that.
Anyway, I look forward to this continuing until all of my pop culture takes are filtered through fatherhood. So keep your eyes out for my essays about how being a Dad gave me a new perspective on the plight of Digimon and how you need to have a child if you want to truly understand Inception. I am a Dad now. I do Dad things. It is the only way.
Daniel is a writer for the internet. You can follow him on Twitter!
Top Image: Warner Bros.