Parents use their environment to help their children. If our crude hut is surrounded by rivers we’ll learn to fish, by forest we’ll chop and build, but in the modern world we’re surrounded by assholes which are neither delicious nor load-bearing. Social media is stuffed with fathers trying to turn their own children into a viral success, which is only slightly more evil if you do it in a bioweapons lab. Idiot online parents are an awfully abundant resource, so we must pan this torrent of idiocy to find golden nuggets of wisdom in how they went wrong. Let us learn the limits of human ability by watching the BAD DAD OLYPMIAD.
We’ll only watch dads who’ve voluntarily entered by uploading themselves for. Mocking a struggling parent in the street is how you advertise it’s okay for Spider-Man to knock you into dogshit while chasing a more dangerous villain. You don’t know what that family is going through. Help if it’s possible or safe. Imagine what you’d do in their situation if not. And now that you’ve happily fantasized about being perfect, imagine what could make you act like them. Then start being useful by imagining how you’d deal with that instead.
We’re only looking at people who wanted to show off how good they are at parenting, because we’re doing exactly what they ask. Every contestant in the BAD DAD Olympiad will be assigned to an event and evaluated. And as with many modern perfomances, we start with a spectacular celebrity appearance!
BAD DAD OLYMPIAD: The Undearing Asshole
The Undearing Asshole thinks advertising their flaws makes them adorable instead of infuriating. They’re the romantic comedy dickhead who burns down some poor woman’s house then gets lucky because he erected a tent on the ashes. As the main character of his own personal reality he believes he can smirkingly shrug at his own shit, possibly on your carpet, and get a laugh instead of a punch in the face.
Our first contestant is Russell Brand and we might already have an eternal champion. He has two daughters, two year old Mabel and six month old Peggy at the time of this article, where he told The Times things that would normally be confessed to Child Services.
Terrible articles start by defining their core concept. In unrelated news here’s Russell Brand defining his parenting.
“Yes, I’m very, very focused on the mystical connotations of Mabel’s beauty and grace. Not so good on the nappies and making sure that they eat food.”
He smashes out of the starting gate in Undearing Asshole Overdrive. This is wrecking your wife’s boss’s car by ramping over your brother’s wedding into an orphanage, stumbling out of the wreckage, then shouting “WOOO!” He sat down and told The Times he was too incompetent to feed his own children. Not as a tearful breakdown in a post-relapse sympathy interview but as a smiley joke. A jollyold “Oh YOU know me, hoho, leaving my starving children covered in their own filth!”
He uses his own children and their overflowing nappies to underline his own spirituality. Our very first entrant in the Bad Dad Olympiad sucks so hard he defined a new type of terrible out of nothing, aka his parenting efforts. I award Russell Brand the foundational gold medal in DIAPERLESS DAD. If someone refuses to change nappies their parenting strategy is literally telling their partner “YOU clean up this shit”.
This is what gave hippies a bad name. This is why spirituality is seen as a con: because their richest practitioners are by definition contradictory con-artists. But enough money winds wires of gold around these idiots to induce them to believe their own bullshit is glittering genius. Which would be enough to tell you his book rEVOLution must suck if you hadn’t learned that from “very-squared spiritual”.
Russell describes being a parent:
“When I looked after Mabel on her own, she dropped two social classes in an hour. In no time at all we’re in a coffee shop, she’s just got a nappy on, she’s covered in stuff because I’m not willing to fight any of the battles. I’m like, f*** it, it doesn’t matter whether she wears trousers, no, I suppose it doesn’t matter if she does that.”
No, sorry, he describes NOT being a parent. Not even a nanny. Barely being a friends’ teenage child making sure they’re never forced to babysit while their stupid parents go to dinner with their stupid friends ever again. In a battle of wills between with an unfinished brain Russell Brand brags about losing.
Your attention might have been pulled from his words by the child screaming in a bag of their own filth, in which case congratulations on parenting her better than Brand, but check out those first words. “When I looked after Mabel on her own”. Special event. Singular. The way you might talk about The War, when starting the story which guarantees you get attention for your suffering. Since it apparently only happened once let’s rewind and look at the earlier again:
“I’m very, very focused on the mystical connotations of Mabel’s beauty and grace”
That’ll be the mystical grace of the starving naked child. There is a certain beauty to the hunt, true, but I don’t think feral infants chasing urban foxes for food and basic fur clothing counts. But counting isn’t so I suppose his daughters don’t need to worry about that, he’s like, f*** it, it doesn’t matter.
At this point The Times’ interviewer notices some slight flaws in Russell’s parenting. Because by this point even a cuckoo would be squirming and awkwardly checking under its wings to avoid eye contact. They ask how long Russell, in two years of parenting, has ever actually parented his own without their mother.
“That’s a good question, isn’t it? Well, OK. The two of them? Well, not long, not long.”
That’s a spectacular answer. But I say that as a comedy writer diving into the rich seams created in the overlap between “an asshole completely fucking up” and “the same asshole absolutely refusing to accept that at great length”. The parent part of me is yelling and sounds pretty angry.
“Um, I’ve done like, a night. But they’re asleep then.”
Congratulations Dr Brand, I award you this PhD in The Most Desperate Answer Ever. In only ten words you’ve summarised more incredible failures to present any positive evidence than the entire scientific search for dark matter. With way more dimensions to be explored by further study. It’s a rare case where “silent glowering” would make someone seem more considerate and self-aware. “Fuck that” would have at least been honest. “I’ve only looked at them when they’re asleep” is not a reassuring answer. That’s never a reassuring answer! It’s the most unreassuring answer possible without pulling out a human-skin mask!
Has he spent even 24 hours in sole charge of his children? He looks at me as if I must be mad.
“No. She wouldn’t go away for 24 hours, Laura. She respects and cares for their safety too much.
“My wife loves my children too much to leave me alone with them” isn’t a real human sentence, it’s a stress test to see if androids have developed empathy and refuse to repeat it.
“Laura’s able to sustain and maintain domesticity in a way that’s astonishing. I didn’t have much experience of how to organise domesticity. I do whatever I’m told.”
I DO EVERYTHING SHE SAYS! is another Bad Dad Olympian feat of fucking up fathering. (You can read more about that idea here). This dude is declaiming “domesticity” as a special skill he can’t learn because he didn’t pick the “woman” class. Painting your own uselessness as your wife’s special skill is a neutron star binary of sexism, a collapsed lump of mass revolving around the light of your life while draining energy and matter off them until something explodes. Russell Brand is now in the running for three separate events in the Bad Dad Olympiad and he invented two of them during the first.
Russell is the loser “I’ve got so many amazing ideas for stories I can’t be bothered writing down any of the mere details”, except for entire human children instead of books.
He breaks off, looking worried. “I would hate for you to leave with the impression that I’m sort of sat watching television, peering over the armchair at what’s going on. I’m not. Yesterday, like, I drove Mabel to the playschool and I drop her at the playschool. But I’m sensitive and awake and aware, so I have to dial a lot of shit down to go through normal life.”
Holy crap Russell noticed a woman unimpressed with his poor performance. Someone get his wife in here! You drove your own child to the playschool AND dropped her at the playschool? I know we should be grateful you didn’t hurl her out the window while speeding past but those don’t count as two tasks. “Giving your child to someone else to take care of” is barely even one task! When the best thing you can think of to tell a doubting reporter is “I don’t hire bouncers to escort my child out of my house for me” you might not be father of the year.
Seeing my expression, he adds: “I feel like I’m doing a f****** probation interview.”
Reacting to anything less than a standing ovation as an attack on their freedom is the signature of the Undearing Asshole, and they’ll still give it as if you’re a fan of their bullshit asking for an autograph.
PODIUM PLACEMENT: GOLD STAR
Russell Brand obviously gets a gold. Not a gold medal, a gold star, a nice little participation sticker for heroically still living on the same planet while his wife looks after three helpless children: his two daughters and him.