Men Who Are Driven Solely By a Desire to Usurp Their Father in “Success.”

While the hands of time might persist in rendering us all genderless by 2030, there will always remain that one sect of “male”–that rare breed still born into money–that can’t help but be driven by an innate desire to usurp his father’s “success” (the Bush family generally comes to mind). This, in white “male” speak, pertains to 1) having more money and 2) procuring a more synthetic wife, paired with a younger mistress. As for poor sons born to middle class fathers, well, no one talks about them, unless it’s a story like A Bronx Tale.

The issue with this little plot to overthrow Daddy as the unshakeable patriarch is that no son can ever truly outshine the father that bore him into wealth in the first place. There is nothing impressive about a rich “boy” who becomes richer just because he slummed it a few years by not automatically becoming a CEO or senator. It goes against the very fabric of the falsity of the American dream, which still touts capitalism as a fair means to rise to the top by your own bootstraps. Thus, it is as Bob Dylan phrased it in “Temporary Like Achilles”: “I’m helpless, like a rich man’s child.”

That helplessness stems from the fact that a son can never outshine son cher papa on the integrity of merit. Even if he renounces access to the bank account and changes his last name, he will always know the cushion is there, just waiting to catch him if and when he should encounter a snag in the plan to Oedipally topple Father. And no, one doesn’t feel sorry for this pathetic and inane drive to outperform Dad’s success, particularly when the inheritance finally rolls in and the new patriarch by default–not by honor–can rename the family yacht anything cheeky directed at his father that he wants. The rich son wins by outliving his father, and by that alone. Just look at the Amises.

Men Who Only Get Father’s Day Gifts For Their Dad To Prove They’ve Surpassed Them.

Like most manufactured holidays (Mother’s Day, Grandparents’ Day, Secretaries Day–or, rather, “Administrative Professionals” Day–, etc.), the pressure to get the perfect gift for Father’s Day consistently leaves one feeling bereft, inadequate and generally stressed. Especially when one is a “man” simply trying to prove to his father that he has surpassed him in life in every possible way: romantic choice, financial success and place of inhabitance.

The relationship between father and son is often more complicated–and even creepier–than the one between father and daughter, as the unspoken competition to transcend the lifestyle set forth by the patriarch becomes intensified as his son enters adulthood–or rather, reluctantly gets shoved into it with his heels dug in and his mouth emitting silent shrieks pleading to remain a child. But once he admits that he’s there, the tendency to pit himself against daddy-o as the rival that can’t be matched often becomes a constant factor. Just look at The Royal Tenenbaums, There Will Be Blood and Big Fish. And if a son isn’t trying to outshine his father, then he’s trying his hardest to be the palest possible shadow in order to avoid the arduousness of competition altogether. In which case he’s also missing as much of a dick as the overzealous, overachieving son. It’s a Goldie Locks sort of a balance that sons must strike when it comes to acquiring that ideal present. One that says, “I love you, Dad, and, no, I’m not trying to kill you.”