A minor Internet firestorm erupted earlier this week when a fairly unassuming fellow named Marshall Weinbaum posted this eyebrow-raising Facebook picture of lady bloggers clutching his quadriceps while he holds a sign that reads, “Hi Mom.” Why would Marshall Weinbaum do such a heinous thing, especially knowing that his mother might see him and pitch a fit about her son, the misogynistic womanizer, being locked up in jail, but especially-especially because Marshall Weinbaum is a publicist for Disney Motion Pictures and can’t really afford to be Internet-infamous?
Adweek offers a pretty concise timeline of the Marshall Weinbaum photo-fail, and included an email from Weinbaum in which he explains that the picture, for anyone who didn’t get the reference, was his modest attempt to spoof the post from National Lampoon’s Vacation. Ring any bells? In Weinbaum’s own contrite-sounding words:
These four amazing women are some of my best friends who I have known for years and I have tremendous respect for them and the work that mom (and dad) bloggers do. We were just having fun inside a wax museum after an event yesterday taking funny photos and I wanted to spoof Chevy Chase from the 'National Lampoon’s Vacation’ poster.
That apology and subsequent removal of the Facebook picture, however, only came after blogger Liz Henry excoriated Weinbaum and his tableaux-making in a post titled “Get on Your Knees for Disney, Mommy Bloggers” (spoiler alert: Henry thinks that Marshall Weinbaum is kind of an asshole). The Facebook picture is problematic, contends Henry, not least of all because Weinbaum is sort of a gatekeeper for the sorts of animated kids movies that mommy bloggers might most be interested in blogging about. In order to gather content for their blogs, mommy bloggers don’t just have to make a series of phone calls to Weinbaum — they have to pay him his due deference as a M-A-N.
Let’s give Marshall the benefit of the doubt for a milisecond [sic]. Maybe he uploaded the picture above to his personal Facebook page in jest. Maybe he was trying to be an ol’ fuddy duddy with the women he knows DAMN RIGHT WELL look to him as the gatekeeper to one of the largest brands — if not the largest — in the world. Maybe they’re all good friends and it was a raucous good time and OMG what will his mom think when he sends the picture over to her with four women at the ready and on their knees?
Because even if he was sending this picture to his mom, the sexual overtones and dominance over women are there and I would, if I was his mother, throw a shit fit and question why I raised a boy that turned into a raging sexist man who needs a gigantic clue.
Henry also cautions readers not to expect a thundering backlash from the “elite” of blogging parents, since they depend on Disney to drop some tasty PR morsels from the great corporate feasting table. Her point is well-taken — Weinbaum’s picture is really unfortunate, though not necessarily because he is, as Henry writes, “a raging douchebag.” The Vacation post is a spoof on the heroic male archetype — Clark W. Griswold is a bumbling, middle-class American dad who drives his family into one shitty situation after another to chase a series of American experiences that don’t exist in the real world.
Maybe Weinbaum was simply parodying the parody, but his picture is so far removed from its original reference point (Vacation was released in 1983) that it’s open for criticism, criticism like Henry’s, which is valid, albeit flawed. In a later update, Henry added that she was informed by Jennifer (from Disney?) that the picture, as Henry notes, “had something to do with National Lampoon’s.” It’s not just something, though — it’s everything. National Lampoon’s is the whole reason for the picture’s existence, and it’s hard to evaluate someone’s (a someone described by at least one other blogger as “a very sweet man”) douchebagginess on a scale of literal to figurative without first acknowledging where that supposed douchebagginess is really coming from.
Then again, Weinbaum totally offered a non-apology apology by writing, “I apologize for how this was construed,” and that’s super irritating. Do with him what you will, legions of the Internet — just don’t tie him to the rear fender of your station wagon and “forget” about him until a highway patrolman pulls you over and shows you a frayed and Weinbaum-less leash.