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Twitter’s Bean Dad Is a Metaphor for our Broken Country

America is run by bean dads, and it's a problem.


If you’ve browsed Twitter in the past 24 hours, you’ve no doubt come across the story of Bean Dad. The now viral thread, posted by podcaster and self-described “apocalypse dad” John Roderick, describes an exchange with his 9 year old daughter, who was hungry. Being too busy with a jigsaw puzzle, Roderick told his daughter to open a can of beans if she was hungry. He quickly realized that she had never used a can opener before, but instead of taking a break from his puzzle and TEACHING HIS DAUGHTER, this guy watched her struggle for SIX HOURS before she figured out how can openers work.

As the thread went viral, most of Twitter started trashing the dad for starving his daughter in some gross display of DIY survivalist parenting. Many others mocked him for not simply teaching his daughter to use the can opener and likely traumatizing her in the process. Soon, Twitter was overtaken by Bean Dad Discourse, as countless folks logged on to discuss parenting, masculinity, and the difficulty of opening cans. “She’s 9”, “Apocalypse Dad”, and “Bean Dad” all began trending. Clearly, the story struck a chord with everyone.

Why though? Why this strange story, and this particularly shitty dad? It’s simple really: this story resonates because our country is currently being held hostage by bean dads. Roderick represents an outdated and deeply toxic school of thought that demands that children (and adults) pull themselves up by their bootstraps and solve their own problems.

It’s a popular republican talking point, this harping on about personal responsibility, born of America’s mindless devotion to the concept of “rugged individualism.” But when you put the needs of the individual over the needs of the community at large, the results are tragic. You need only look at America’s selfish behavior throughout the pandemic to see that we are dying by the thousands while clinging to our “freedoms.”

While most other industrialized nations are coming together to wear masks and socially distance, Americans are holding protests and mask burnings. They are waging a self-aggrandizing war of ignorance because they can’t be bothered to wear a piece of cloth on their faces. Of course, it doesn’t help that the president and his sycophantic news organizations are cheering them on and willfully spreading disinformation.

But it’s not only these bad faith actors. Bean dads currently occupy the White House, and maintain majority control of the Senate. While most countries are paying their citizens to stay at home and social distance, the U.S. Senate, lead by ghoulish bean dad Mitch McConnell, have refused to offer any sort of steady support.

Some Americans received $1,200 in the spring of 2020, and while the House passed more bills for financial relief, Mitch McConnell refused to hold a vote, effectively holding the country hostage. And for the past few weeks, we’ve seen congress bitterly divided between giving Americans one-time payments of $600 vs. $2,000. It’s a cruel joke, as neither sum really makes a dent in the sizable debt most Americans are now grappling with. But at least billionaires and major corporations got their bailouts and tax cuts, right?

The answer, of course, is devastatingly simple. Shut down the economy, pay people to stay at home, and squash the virus. Just open up the damn can of beans and feed your hungry child. But instead, we’ll keep up the charade of re-opening and closing, causing further damage to our health and our economy. Republicans and bean dads would rather teach you some sort of half-baked moral lesson untethered from reality. Keep banging that can of beans against the wall until your hands bleed and you starve to death. It’s the American way. Today a can of beans, tomorrow a socialist revolution.

I guess that old adage is true: open a can of beans for your daughter, and she eats for a day. But refuse to help her feed herself and she will resent you for a lifetime.

(featured image: Chaloner Woods/Getty Images)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.