Monday, June 6, 2011

Media Contact

Maybe I'm not the best choice for this role, but as the current administrator of my dads's group, I not only schedule the weekly play dates and approve new members, I'm also the contact for media inquiries. In January, I was contacted by a freelance writer who was working on an article for a major, national women's magazine. He's made it pretty clear from the beginning that he had already written the article and was mostly looking for quotes from members of the group that he could plug into the article to support the conclusion he'd already come to before talking to any of us. As of today, his article has now been returned to him for final edits, and he wants a couple of more dads to talk to for about 10 minutes tomorrow to cull a few more quotes, I suppose.

In May, the photo editor for said magazine contacted me to schedule a photo shoot with our group. She's waffled on dates, saying maybe this week, maybe next week, maybe the week after that to send a hired photographer to shoot us. I suggested she take advantage of the talents of one of our members, who has shot some excellent photos, some of which he took at past play dates. She was non-committal, until today, finally saying she wanted him to take more photos of us at upcoming play dates. She stressed that it's important to her magazine to represent diversity in their photo shoots, especially those involving real people, which struck me as manipulating reality to make it fit some idealized version, true reality be damned.

After 5 months of emails with these two journalistic professionals who won't make a decision and stick with it, I got a little fed up. So I sent the following email to my group today to promote the Wednesday play date, which will be taking place at the business of one of our members:

First, let me say that the rest of this message is tongue-in-cheek, and I don't give a rat's ass about satisfying [national women's magazine], since I'm sure the article will not in the least represent us (or at least me) and what it means (to me) to be a stay-at-home dad. I'm sure that the author wrote the article before speaking to any of us, and the gist of it will be that "silly, incompetent dads think they can be moms! Isn't that cute?"

That said, I would really appreciate it if we could turn out in large numbers for Wednesday's play date this week. First, it will be great to see what our own [Dad #1] and his family have come up with as a business idea and to throw our support behind it. It sounds unique, and a lot of fun, and priced more than reasonably, compared to other indoor play spaces. Second, I'd like to see [Dad #2] get national exposure as a photographer, too, if that's also what he wants. So let's come together and support these two dads and see what good can come of this mess for them. Maybe [Dad #2] can get some shots of us in front of a sign or a logo, or a web address on Wednesday.

I suggested to [national women's magazine]'s photo editor from the beginning that she take advantage of [Dad #2]'s talents, but she hemmed, hawed, delayed, and was generally a giant pain in the ass about picking a date to send a hired photographer to. Now she's come full circle and wants [Dad #2] to shoot us Wednesday at All Things Kids, and presumably any other play dates we turn up to over the next few days. Or weeks. Or whatever. I have no idea when they plan to actually pull the trigger on this project and publish the damn article already. It can't be soon enough, as far as I'm concerned.

What she seems most concerned about is "diversity," though she never specifically defined what she meant by that. They like their photo shoots to be diverse, "especially of real people," even if reality is semi-homogeneous. I presume she means it in the "racial diversity" sense, but she didn't specify, so if you're coming on Wednesday, please come at your most diverse. If [Dad #3] shows up, we'll have "white man with blond kids" covered, though that beard isn't quite "Middle America" enough. [Kid #1] and [Kid #2] should definitely come, but maybe it would best if their mom brought them and [Dad #4] stayed home. [Dad #5] and [Dad #6] certainly should be there, and if anybody has any black friends with kids that they can convince to take the morning off from work, I'd appreciate it. As the only woman in the group, [Mom #1], you better show up, or I'm kicking you out, and whichever dad it was that had something about a "partner" in his bio, I'm counting on you, too. [Dad #7] should come, but only as a real person and not as an actor. As the definitive "blue-eyed devil," I'm not sure I should be in any of the pictures, but [Thumper] and I will be there to check out [Dad #1]'s ultra-cool imported European toys. [Dad #2], please make sure to get some self-portraits with the mohawk and the baby strapped to your chest. I can only hope this will be one of the weeks that your hair is blue or some other unnatural color.

Anyway, please come. It's $5 per kid, unless we show up in a group of 10 or more kids, which will prompt [Dad #1] to give us a 20% discount, or $4 per kid. If we can't be racially diverse, maybe we can be, I don't know, politically diverse? If [Dad #8] and [Dad #1] are in the same room with the rest of us, we'll pretty much have the spectrum covered. Religiously diverse? Fashionably diverse? Or diverse heights and weights? Shoe sizes?

And thus you see why maybe I'm not the best choice for media contact.

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