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June 13, 2014

Father's Day cards make subjects the targets of jokes

There's a good chance if you receive — or give — a Father's Day card this weekend, Dad will be portrayed as a flatulent, beer-obsessed, tool-challenged buffoon who would rather hog the remote, go fishing or play golf than be with the kids.

That's what the greeting card industry thinks of dads. And apparently kids do, too, since so-called funny cards — obviously a subjective term — are the top sellers when it comes to honoring fathers.

But just who are these dads, and what century are they from?

"They're about grilling — there are a bunch of those — or handyman stuff," Peter Walker, 26, said as he looked at something for his father in the greeting card aisle at a CVS in Rockville, Maryland. So maybe a handyman card? "He's an attorney — he's not very handy."

The greeting card image of dad as incompetent boob is increasingly out of sync with today's fathers, many of whom spend as much time packing lunches and helping with homework as their own fathers spent in the Barcalounger.

But corny stereotypes still sell, greeting card companies say. The Father's Day best seller for NobleWorks Cards, a New Jersey-based publisher of humorous greeting cards, says, "Keep Calm We Found the Remote." The next best seller shows kids surrounding dad as he opens a card misspelled as "Happy Farter's Day." The third biggest seller shows "The Evolution of Dad" from ape to caveman to a guy hunkered down in front of the TV.

An informal Washington Post survey of drugstores in the Washington metropolitan area found dozens of cards based on the same themes — some image of beer, golf, a fishing pole, a TV, a recliner, caveman, hapless handyman or a joke about flatulence.

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