The #BeanDad debacle explained — and how ‘Jeopardy!’ star Ken Jennings got involved
The so-called “Bean Dad” got a lot more than he bargained for when he opened a can of worms instead of beans on Twitter over the weekend, becoming a pariah on the social media platform and a target of cancel culture.
Step aside, Karen memes. There’s a new term for loathsome offenders now.
The term #BeanDad, of course, was coined for John Roderick, the frontman of Seattle band the Long Winters and cohost of the encyclopedic “Omnibus” podcast with “Jeopardy!” champ Ken Jennings.
Roderick went viral Saturday after posting a thread about refusing to help his hungry young daughter open a can of baked beans, forcing her to learn to use a manual can opener if she wanted to eat. The 9-year-old struggled with the task for six hours.
The initially well-intentioned parenting moment — relayed in his “pedant dad” tone — was “poorly framed,” he later said, and immediately turned the tide of social media against him.
After he became “the locus for a tremendous outpouring of anger and grief,” Roderick penned a nearly 1,000-word apology published Tuesday. In it, he atoned for the “profound failures” of his thread’s insensitivity and “the legacy of hurtful language” that bubbled up when angry Twitter users resurfaced offensive tweets from his past.
Roderick has since said he’ll be retreating from public life “to let some of these lessons sink in.”
“Bean Dad, full of braggadocio and d—head swagger, was hurting people. I’d conjured an abusive parent that many people recognized from real life,” he wrote Tuesday on his website, echoing the sentiments of Twitter users who accused him of child abuse.
The backlash was swift, prompting Roderick to delete his Twitter account on Monday “in a panic” after users resurfaced racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic tweets from his account history. Roderick joked about rape and mocked gay and mentally disabled people in those tweets. He also said Jewish lawyers “ruin everybody’s fun” and that the “founders intended USA as white homeland,” according to the Wrap.
Interim “Jeopardy!” host Jennings attempted to come to Bean Dad’s defense, but that chivalry did neither man any favors and, if anything, attached another celebrity to the brouhaha.
“Extremely jealous and annoyed that my podcast co-host is going to be a dictionary entry and I never will,” Jennings tweeted Sunday. “If this reassures anyone, I personally know John to be (a) a loving and attentive dad who (b) tells heightened-for-effect stories about his own irascibility on like ten podcasts a week. This site [Twitter] is so dumb.”
The debacle could jeopardize Jennings’ chances of permanently taking over for the late Alex Trebek as host of the iconic game show, which maintains a squeaky-clean, professorial public image. Jennings has already come under fire for his own past insensitive tweets.
Is Ken Jennings cleaning up his life as he replaces the late Alex Trebek as interim “Jeopardy!” host? He just issued a big apology for “insensitive” tweets.
The #BeanDad saga began when Roderick used his young daughter’s inability to operate a can opener as a “teaching moment,” which many parents are wont to do for comedic effect on social media. But Roderick’s educational foray, according to the since-deleted tweets, resulted in “tears” and his daughter collapsing in “a frustrated heap” before she figured out how to use the basic kitchen tool.
Roderick initially met the controversy with a series of incredulous responses in which he blasted “parenting concern-trolls” who harped on him for depriving his daughter of baked beans for six hours. The defensive tweets only made matters worse.
“My story about my daughter and the can of beans was poorly told,” Roderick acknowledged Tuesday in his lengthy apology. “I didn’t share how much laughing we were doing, how we had a bowl of pistachios between us all day as we worked on the problem, or that we’d both had a full breakfast together a few hours before.”
Roderick said he framed the story with himself as “the a—hole dad” because that’s the comedic persona he uses, and his fans and friends know it’s “a bit.”
“What I didn’t understand when posting that story, was that a lot of the language I used reminded people very viscerally of abuse they’d experienced at the hand of a parent,” he wrote. “The idea that I would withhold food from her, or force her to solve a puzzle while she cried, or bind her to the task for hours without a break all were images of child abuse that affected many people very deeply. Rereading my story, I can see what I’d done.
“I was ignorant, insensitive to the message that my ‘pedant dad’ comedic persona was indistinguishable from how abusive dads act, talk and think,” he wrote.
The podcast host said he was “deeply sorry for having precipitated more hurt in the world, for having prolonged or exacerbated it by fighting back and being flippant when confronted.” He also apologized for taking his feed offline “instead of facing the music.”
It is the view of these 151 signers that cancel culture, stemming from the angry young internet wokes who demand to dominate the direction of the public discourse, is new. That is false.
Then, moving his essay to the topic of his “racist, anti-Semitic, hurtful and slur-filled tweets” from his early days on Twitter, Roderick said he intended them to be “ironic, sarcastic,” only to realize that they most definitely were not.
“I thought then that being an ally meant taking the slurs of the oppressors and flipping them to mock racism, sexism, homophobia, and bigotry,” he wrote. “I am humiliated by my incredibly insensitive use of the language of sexual assault in casual banter. It was a lazy and damaging ideology, that I continued to believe long past the point I should’ve known better that because I was a hipster intellectual from a diverse community it was ok for me to joke and deploy slurs in that context. It was not.”
Roderick said that he was confronted years ago about how his status as a straight white male “didn’t permit me to ‘repurpose’ those slurs as people from disenfranchised communities might do” and that they’re injurious regardless of his intent.
“I’m a middle-aged, middle-class straight white male and I try to be cognizant of that and of the responsibility my privileges entail in everything I do. In this case, it was precisely my privilege of not living in an abusive family, of not being a member of a community that routinely experiences real trauma, that caused me to so grossly misjudge the impact of the language I chose,” he wrote.
“I have a lot more reflecting to do in the coming days so I’ll be taking a hiatus from my public life to let some of these lessons sink in. I apologize to my partners, my friends, and to all the people affected by my words for the hurt I caused.”
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