jeff goldblum and the daddy problem

Jeff Goldblum's omnipresence as our empirical Daddy of the year is proof, if proof needs be, that the entire planet is on the huh.

by Josh Baines
13 December 2018, 12:48pm

If I were to slide up beside you and whisper the word “Daddy” into your ear, who’d immediately fill your mind’s eye? Would it be Tony Blair, with a rictus grin and blood on his hands? Perhaps it’s Francis Urquhart, the dastardly star of the original House of Cards, who throws his considerably younger paramour off the top of the houses of Parliament, the wailing cry of “DAAAAAAAADYYYYYY” ricocheting off the pavement?

Before answering that, first we need to know why we have spent 2018 whispering "Daddy", over and over, into the proverbial ear of the social media abyss? Why are we in need of a father figure more than ever before?

When we talk about Daddy, and oh boy have we talked a lot about Daddy this year, we’re really talking about a deep desire to subsume ourselves — sexually, certainly, emotionally, financially — as deep inside patriarchy as we can.

You don’t need to be Sigmund Freud or John Bowlby to understand why the need for a father figure (and in 2018 we lusted after any father, be it a sext-hungry Tory MP or a wrestler-cum-actor) lingers long into the anxious depths of adulthood. After all, in a world that continues to slop closer and closer to its inevitable end, don’t we deserve to feel the leather-gloved hand of Daddy clasping at our throat? When life seems too much, too turbulent, too intimidating, what could be more comforting than cool, calm, collected Daddy sorting everything out? (Or, better yet, Zaddy).

By nature of having a Daddy, there must also be the Ultimate Daddy of 2018. And that is, of course, Jeff Goldblum. Like half-arsed three-pint-deep discussions about the Irish backstop, and intentionally eye-wateringly ugly trainers, Jeff Goldblum’s been everywhere in 2018. At times it’s felt like the Jurassic Park star was more omnipresent than Theresa May, Donald Trump and Gritty combined.

Jeff Goldblum's resurgence is understandable. He’s handsome! He’s self-effacing! He records and releases completely inoffensive covers of jazz standards! He's hot but safe, comforting, an antidote to overt male sexuality. He's uncontroversial, famous but not too famous. There's a warm comfort to be derived from the wistful nostalgia about him, an emblem of our youth.

As Bertie Brandes rightly pointed out on this very website back in August, “Daddy” has transcended it’s BDSM roots and become another dismal layer of linguistic cement that desperately attempts to plug a temporary gap in social media’s increasingly pointless, rampantly depressing, and ultimately incredibly-damaging ceaselessness. Daddy is everything and nothing. Much like Jeff.

“When we repeatedly say Daddy on Twitter and in our podcasts and on our janky DIY memes (it’s a content creation revolution!) we aren’t referring to any actual S&M we get up to on our own time,” Bertie wrote. “We aren’t like, exposing our amazingly kinky sex lives, I think in reality we’re attempting to get leverage on a deeply, painfully generalised feeling that someone is fucking us.”

Most of us voluntarily lay back and take a fucking from the entertainment industry. We might be aware of the artificiality of it all, with the creaking carapace of celebrity cracking more and more in front of our very eyes but for the sake of believing in something, believing in anything, we firmly do believe the hype, seemingly happy to willingly act as unpaid freelance PR agents for A-listers.

Which, obviously, is absolutely fine. There is, after all, enough misery in the world to make even the most cynical of us occasionally step into a daydream wherein Ariana Grande, Timothée Chalamet, and Cardi B spend their nights off down Peckham Wetherspoon with us. We’ll swallow the pill of celebrity all too readily when the alternative is to face up to the horror of what have done to this planet, to ourselves, to everything.

Enter Jeff Goldblum.

Jeff Goldblum, in his snazzy white suits and his louche gold jewellery and his GDP-ruiningly expensive shiny shoes and his big fat fucking smile makes for an obvious Daddy-candidate. He wants to be Daddy. He revels in it. He bathes in an amber-drenched, woody oriental fragrance of attempted Daddydom. In fact, Jeff Goldblum is so insistent that he is going to be your Daddy that the vague suggestion of danger that usually clings to Daddy figures evaporates into a stage-managed and manicured nothingness.

In this sense, he is the smoothed-out Diet Daddy that an exhausted and anxious generation seem to crave. He provides good copy and seems game in photoshoots. He is probably good with animals and never forgets a nephew’s birthday. He would, most likely, be a considerate and kind lover. You would be treated, the morning after, to a delicate espresso from the Gaggia that sits atop a marble tabletop in his spacious kitchen. Californian sunlight would dart across the turquoise of his pool. Jeff might tinkle the ivories.

Coffee finished, song over, you would be immediately escorted, very politely, off the premises by a bodyguard. Actually, knowing Nice Guy Jeff, you’d more likely be tap-danced out of the gated compound and charmed into a gold-plated helicopter. It will be the last you ever see of this Manic Pixie Dream Daddy.

Handsome, tall and harmless, he’s the archetypal anti-Daddy, who in this topsy-turvy world, has mutated into a ur-Daddy. Proof that the entire planet isn't quite right. Charming, evidently charismatic, and blessed with the kind of well-groomed photogenic aura that turns every single shoot into the kind of thing that every other magazine and media outlet pounces on as unimpeachable genius, he’s so perfect as to be absolutely bland.

For some of us bland is beautiful in an epoch when fascism is on the rise and the the world plummets towards to climate catastrophe. As we enter this new dark age, most of us go one of two ways. We either jump headfirst into hedonism and the unfettered sense of frenzy that comes with a life where all that matters is the next party and the next fuck. Or we find ourselves culturally and sexually neutered, hoping the object of our chaste desire will tuck us up tight and protect us.

Both sides, evidently, want a daddy. Jeff Goldblum, for all the smiles, all the interviews, isn’t it.

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This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

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