Wednesday 20 March 2019

The rise and rise of Daddy Cool

Forget celebrity mums: these days it's all about the appeal of the Hollywood Power Dads, writes Tanya Sweeney

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Ben Affleck and daughters, Violet Affleck and Seraphina Affleck are seen on November 24, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Ben Affleck and daughters, Violet Affleck and Seraphina Affleck are seen on November 24, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
David Beckham and daughter Harper
Orlando Bloom and Flynn Bloom
Matt Damon has three daughters and a stepdaughter with wife Luciana
Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis

Tanya Sweeney

Remember the '80s, when the so-called Athena Man caused a worldwide stir simply for holding a baby and looking a bit hot while doing it?

Well, that was then, and this is now. These days, you can't throw a dart in Hollywood without hitting dozens of his manly, beautiful, baby-whisperer kind.

It's official: the Power Dad phenomenon has gone weapons-grade. Two and a Half Men's Ashton Kutcher's daughter with actress Mila Kunis, Wyatt Isabelle, was only born on October 1, but already the actor seems to have the whole fatherhood thing down pat.

"I have a personal 'I want to be a hero' ego thing," he said recently. "It fulfills all of that. Staying home for the first couple weeks, I've learned the little things that will calm the baby down. Any sort of hero fantasy I have is completely satiated."

Time once was in Hollywood that the male movie stars went about the serious business of learning their lines, showing up on set and not bumping into the furniture. Nowadays, Drive star Ryan Gosling can't wait to leave work and get back home to his baby daughter Esmerelda who was born in September. For what it's worth, we never heard Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks or Paul Newman - consummate dads, one and all - say anything of the sort.

Down the years however, famous new mothers were forced to shapeshift. Whatever about Oscar nods or working with Steven Spielberg or Woody Allen, they were forced to answer some more personal questions: breast or bottle? How about that baby weight? How do you juggle it all?

But the comments of the celebrity mother have become white noise. These days, it's all about how Him Indoors is rising to the challenge.

Personally, I blame Simon Cowell for this. God knows, he can remember a time - as we all can - that dads just weren't sexy. They don't call it a 'dad dance' for nothing, you know. But Cowell has stepped up to the plate. Once an avowed (borderline toxic) bachelor, he became a dad to baby Eric on Valentine's Day of this year. With TV's Mr Nasty effectively neutered (so to speak), Cowell is a changed man, and no mistake. Yet it's good to hear that even the X Factor supremo has his limits, noting that he wouldn't change a nappy for even £10k.

No such quibbles for David Beckham, who was once moved to comment about his daughter Harper: "It still amazes me when I change her nappy." Beckham - the Athena Man made flesh - has made it okay for a whole slew of male celebrities (including Orlando Bloom, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) to proudly add 'doting dad' to their CV, while music mogul Jay Z totes baby Blue Ivy around with the swagger and élan of a seasoned pro.

Even those who have yet to join the club properly are getting in on the action. Blake Lively's hubby has already officially become 'dad-to-be Ryan Reynolds' while, according to US reports, singer Justin Timblerlake's dreams are all about to become true now that his actress wife Jessica Biel is expecting.

And where celebrities blaze a trail, civilians are sure to follow. These days, it's not enough to be a caring, nappy-changing father; the pressure is now on to reach DILF (Dad I'd Like To... well, y'know) status. The male equivalent of MILFs, the DILF is now the gold standard to which men should aspire. YouTube is replete with uncannily photogenic men miming to the Frozen soundtrack with their kids, while our collective ovaries do an obligatory somersault.

Elsewhere, the Instagram account 'DILFs of Disneyland' - made up of hotties toting their offspring around the Magic Kingdom, has 172,000 followers and counting. Such light-hearted objectification is nothing new to women, so perhaps the rise of the DILF has been a long time coming.

But the idea that men might feel the need to look effortlessly incredible at the school gates, or experience a twinge of envy at the full-blown DILFness of the man next to him at the parent-teacher meeting… well, it's safe to say that interesting times could well be ahead. For all of us.

Five ways to become a Power Dad

1. Learn the lyrics to 'Frozen's' maddening earworm 'Let It Go'

Every four-year-old on the planet is genetically programmed to adore it, so resistence is essentially futile (you get extra points if you end up on YouTube singing it).

2. Leave the past in the past

No one cares about your wild times during Féile. As you've no doubt learned from seeing Frozen 50 times: Let. It. Go.

3. Look the part

That means a hipster quiff (or a vast selection of baseball caps), the right amount of beard, skinny jeans a vest and some natty Converse. Job done.

4. Get involved

That doesn't just mean nappy duties; this also means the school runs, the bake sales, the Christmas concerts and the Under-10s GAA matches. Hashtag swoon.

5. Don't get fixated on being cool

Just as it's your job to provide lifts and pocket money, it's the job of your kids to immediately flag when you're trying too hard. But even you should know that it's verboten to say things like, 'what's this Snapchat website all about then?' or 'Harry Styles looks like a girl'.

Irish Independent

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