Monday, December 31, 2007

Dump the Dude!

I thought we were finished with the term "dude" after the surfing craze in the 60's. Then there was Fast Times at Ridgemont High with Sean Penn. He was also a dude . . . a So Cal dufus. Jeff Bridges was the ultimate "Dude" in one of my favorite films, "The Big Lebowski." The word "dude" seemed to fit all those genres. But now the term "dude" is totally out of control or haven't you noticed?

"Dude" is in vogue as a title for anyone-mostly male but also female . . . .! There are people whom I only know as "dude." Here's the upside:
If I forget a name, I never lose by calling them "dude."

For the sake of common ground and accuracy here's the wikipedia definition of "dude": The term "dude" is an American English slang word used informally to address a male individual. The word may also be used in the same manner for a female as its counterpart, 'Dudette.' "Dude" may also be used alone in a sentence, serving as an exclamation; denoting a feeling of surprise, happiness, disappointment, amazement or other emotions."

My initial response to the term is that it's harmless.

Yet the more I ponder the term, the more I realize "dude" is a dangerous term. It's a home wrecker . . . capable of ruining friendships . . . destroying all gender distinctives and able to rip away at the very fabric of our culture. Check that out, Dude!

So what's the big deal with this word? Why am I so hung up about "dude"? Here are several examples where "dude" has infiltrated our culture and knocked it down a few notches.

Fathers. Men have to make a decision whether they want their kids to love them or like them. In a must see film for fathers, Life as a House, Kevin Kline has a rebellious, drug addicted son who cannot stand the sight of his dad and tells him he doesn't even like him Kline responds, "I don't want you to like me; I want you to love me."

A lot of fathers are fearful of such language. Dads today want to be liked by their son; they are best friends. They are buds.

Guess what! Your son-whether he is 5 of 15 is not your buddy. He's your son. By calling that precious boy your buddy, you are placing yourself on his level as an equal.

Sure, you should be friends with your kids. But the relationship of father and son is not a buddy system. As a Dad you're to guide, nurture, challenge and hold him accountable to obey your directions and expectations. That doesn't happen with your "buddy." Before you know it, your sixteen year old looks at his "buddy Daddy," and tells him to shove off. He has figured it out: like one of his peers, he doesn't need to obey. Dads, as your son's buddy you've reduced yourself from father to fool. Your son is not your equal. You are the father; he's the son; you are an adult; he's a child. By calling each other buddies, you are teaching your child to disrespect you.

I wince when I hear a 7 or 8 year old call his father by his first name, "Hey John, what do you want to do this afternoon? You are not "John" to that boy; you are "Dad." When my twelve year old slips and calls me "Dude", I don't respond to him. I go totally deaf to his requests. I am not "dude". I'm Dad. I'm not one of his friends or one of his dudes. I'm his father and I have been placed by God in a position of authority in that boy's life. "Dude" does not give off the idea of authority. It's more like a hipster dufus.

Women. Why are girls suddenly calling each others "dude"? I even witnessed two females on Gray's Anatomy call each other by that wretched term. I am speaking of two heterosexual women addressing each other as men; can you see 2 guys calling one another "girlfriend"? Are girls trying to look tough or putting themselves on the same plane as men?

Guess what! It's not sexy nor appealing for a woman to be a "dude." At that point a woman who wants to be called "dude" starts spiraling downward into a dud. Women today are so fearful of their femininity that they must take on masculine terms. I say "dump the dude" when it comes to women. I

Children. My twelve year old is into the "dude" culture. Every one of his friends is now "dude." I asked him recently if his friends all have real names. Are they all "dude"? I wanted to know how they tell each other apart. Yes, the word "dude" is replacing first names. Thank you Sean Penn!

I think parents should spare themselves the agony of naming their kids and looking through baby name books. Make it easy and call him "Dude." Eventually, if this culture stays on the same road for the next twenty years, he will be called "dude" anyway. Name him "dude". Name every male "dude." Dude for President! Glad to meet you President Dude.

Officials. Will we reach a point in our culture where we will call officials by the term "Dude." Can you imagine getting stopped by a police officer and you fail to address him as "officer" but you refer to him as "dude." Are you going to talk Officer Dude out of a traffic ticket? I don't think he's going to buy your story. Sorry Dude!

Bottom line: let's start laying off "dude" and return to names that demonstrate respect like Dad or Father. I want to hear first names drift back into our culture and women show respect for one another. Finally, fearing the "dude revolution" may never stop, I fear the day when kids call their teachers and other respected officials, "dude"

You can guess where this is all heading: Our Dude who art in heaven . . . God forbid!

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