Why the Father’s Day Google Doodle Was Offensive

COLUMN: Google's decision to celebrate Father's Day through a doodle was a good touch, but the suggestion that people call "pops" is a step too far.

on June 20 2011 9:01 AM
Google Doodle hawks Google Voice on Father's Day
Google Doodle hawks Google Voice on Father's Day Google

The Father’s Day Google Doodle was a failure.

The design – blue letters with the “l” in “Google” replaced with an orange tie – was ok, if a little bland.  The offensive part was the sentence below it.

It read: “Dad. Father. Pops. No matter what you call him, call your dad from Gmail.”

First, it shamelessly hawked Google Voice.  The public had come to expect retailers to hawk Father’s Day gifts, but Google Doodle was supposed to be cool.  If Google now wants to exploit holidays for financial gain, it can expect to lose coolness points in the eyes of the public.

More importantly, it was offensive to a good number of people.

For most people, a suggestion to call “pops” is fine. 

But what if you never knew your father?  What if your father was horrible and abusive?  What if your father recently died?

Below are some complaints Google users have voiced (mostly about the reminder being plastered also on Google Voice itself):

“Is there a way to get rid of this reminder to call a relative who, to me, does not exist beyond the basic biological level?”

“I very recently lost my dad and I while I understand the sentiment, having that reminder there is incredibly mocking.”

“Isn't this day hard enough without my own computer rubbing it in my face?”

“Please get rid of this feature. I don't have a father, and I don't appreciate being reminded of that?”

“I lost both parents years ago. I definitely HATE the insensitive of Google 'thought' being reminded of call dad.”

Google, as the most popular website in the US, reaches almost the entire population.  It must, therefore, be sensitive to as many people as possible.

Of course, there are always minute minorities of people who hate generic Doodles about the moon, Christmas, or Father’s Day, and Google can’t possibly avoid offending everyone.

But it should have accommodated the many people who can’t or don’t want to call “pops” for one reason or another.

Ironically, this Google Doodle failure comes just days after Google released possibly its best Doodle ever, the Les Paul Google Doodle.

 

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