Over the summer, while surfing the channels I came across the 1997 movie remake of “Leave it to Beaver”. The original “feel good” sitcom features the “Cleavers”, an “All American Family” from the 1950’s. “Parents Ward and June, and older brother Wally, try to keep Theodore (‘the Beaver’) out of trouble. However, Beaver continues to end up in one kind of jam or another.” (IMBD) This reboot offering is a contemporary retelling of a 1950’s concept, yet with, weirdly, modern feel.
I have to confess that I was not a consumer of the original series (Leave It To Beaver), but I did watch the odd episode. When I started watching this movie I was intrigued.
Now, what is the most dominant feature of 1950’s family life? It has to be the notion of “father knows best.” Wasn’t that a time when men were men, and men were wise? No doubt, Leave It To Beaver participated in the same genre as the idealized television show from the 1954 entitled “Father Knows Best” (Those who are older may know this).
As a matter of fact, so ingrained in American pop culture was this particular show(Father Knows Best), “in 1959, the U.S. Treasury Department commissioned a special 30-minute episode called “24 Hours in Tyrant Land” which was never aired on television… but was distributed to schools, churches and civic groups, and promoted the buying of savings bonds.” (Wikipedia)
Well, it’s obvious that father doesn’t always know best, but is it so bad to hold on to a fond piece of historical nostalgia? I was disappointed with the remake.
In a pivotal plot moment (Spoiler alert), Ward goes to help his son out of a “Coffee Cup” (he got stuck in a coffee because his bike was stolen by a bully, who then tricked him to climb up into a giant coffee cup that was part of a sign over a store… )
In the “heart felt” conversation between father and seven year old son, it turns out that “father didn’t know best”, and he was responsible for the Beaver’s situation because his son was only trying to live up to his own expectation and approval… (Forget the fact that the Beaver joined the football team to manipulate his athletic dad in to getting him a new bike.)
I’m not saying that this story line couldn’t happen, or even that it doesn’t happen. I’m just wondering if we couldn’t entertain that 1950’s mythology just a little longer… (It just seems that TV dads moved unceremoniously from stern, to sage, to stupid.)
With the understanding of the “Genesis Man”, men (fathers especially) are indeed suppose to be wise. Not only that, but we are to speak words of “declaration” into the lives of our families and those we mentor. (Adam did so in Genesis 2, when he stated about Eve “You are bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh…) Furthermore, are we not as men to emulate the pinnacle of Fatherhood found in God our Father?
Lenny Leblanc sings a song by Ricky Skaggs, “Father Knows Best”. Whether you’re a fan of country music or not, it tells an engaging and emotional story of a son who realizes that his father truly did know best. (Check it out on You tube).
So, maybe it isn’t mythology after all…