It was bound to happen. Like anything else that becomes a pop culture sensation, Adam Mansbach’s Go the F–k to Sleep has become the subject of inevitable backlash and criticism (and will soon no doubt be followed by the backlash against the backlash).
Mansbach’s hilarious and sometimes all-too-relatable ode to a stubborn child who simply won’t go to bed became a hit even before it was released (it was No. 1 on Amazon’s best-seller list nearly a month before it was available for purchase) and has continued to be a best-seller since. Since then, the book, written in the prose of classic children’s books but with some way more adult language, has become a pop culture phenomenon, being read by the likes of Werner Herzog and Samuel L. Jackson (the latter’s reading is available for free download on Audible.com.)
While the book has been mostly loved by critics and exhausted parents/babysitters/next-door neighbors alike, some aren’t nearly as amused. In a post on CNN.com, Karen Spears Zacharias explained her confusion and worries about the book’s success. In addition to calling it “crass in concept and execution,” Zacharias also argues, “The violent language of Go the F–k to Sleep is not the least bit funny, when one considers how many neglected children fall asleep each night praying for a parent who’d care enough to hold them, nurture them and read to them.”
While that’s an issue we should all be aware of regardless of what book we’re reading, it’s hard to imagine that was anything close to what Mansbach was intending to accomplish when writing his unquestionably un-PC lullaby mostly intended to give parents a laugh. But the passage from the guest column that will likely garner the most criticism, comes when child development Dr. David Arredondo asks readers to, “Imagine if this were written about Jews, blacks, Muslims or Latinos.” Okay, but this particular book is about babies, nothing else. As Gawker put it, “This is a false equivalency. Children are not a race or religion, they are just small people with weak bladder control and minimal literacy.”
While I don’t necessarily agree with the backlash or argument against Go The F–k To Sleep, however, I can understand the nature of the beast. For everyone who laughed at Carlos the baby getting hit with the cop car door in The Hangover, there were just as many horrified parents who couldn’t imagine making light of an injured tot. But does laughing at or not laughing at something like that make you a bad parent? No, not unless you tried the stunt out on your kid (in which case, yeah, you’re a very bad parent). Because, much like the infant who played Carlos in The Hangover, it’s safe to assume that while Go The F–k To Sleep is being read by sleep-deprived parents desperate for humor, no babies were actually harmed.
But, I’m curious to see what you think, PopWatchers. Were you offended by the undeniably salty language of Mansbach’s Go The F–k to Sleep or simply relieved that another parent understood your grief? Should parents be upset by the book or laugh along at the obviously satirical piece? Vote in the poll below!