Mac Daddy Santa

Exciting interest in the Twitterverse at the moment, this holiday tweet from Tiger Woods (the real Tiger Woods) yesterday:

Xmas tradition that my kids love. Mac Daddy Santa is back! –TW

A lot of people seem to be distressed by the display of his nipples (too sexualized); some by his apparently adopting the persona of a pimp, and a black pimp at that (Woods is famously multiracial); some by his displaying his body at all at his age (Woods is about to be 41).

On mack in GDoS, which notes it as a short form of much older slang mackeral:

(also mac, maq, maque) [early 15C-mid-17C SE mackeral a pimp, pander or procuress ult. Fr. maquereau a pimp … 1 (US Und.) a pimp [1st cite from 1908] …

Then, from this, mack daddy (also mac daddy):

1 (US black) a successful pimp or criminal [from 1959 on] [the Great MacDaddy, protagonist of an African-American rhyme of the 1950s]   3 (US black) an important, influential black man, a power in the community, a very successful or skilful man [from 1993 on]   4 (US black) a handsome, virile man [1st in 1997-2001 Online Slang Dict.]   5 (US campus) anything or anybody that is considered the best (Eble 1995)

The sense development depends on the black pimp as a figure of power and significance. But even as the expression has been extended to non-sexual contexts (while preserving its strong positive evaluation) and then out of black communities into wider usage, a whiff of prostitution and the exploitation and abuse of women still clings to it, all the more since the older usage is still going strong, as in the Urban Dictionary’s top-ranked definition for mac daddy:

The pimp-meister, the king of the streetwalkers, possessor of the blingest of bling-bling. The mac daddy is the man who means everything (and the only man who really means anything) to his ladies of the night. [by hux 5/22/03]

So I would be very cautious about adopting the mac daddy persona (complete with black sunglasses, ostentatious watch, and black ballcap) for fun. Yes, the kids probably don’t get the pimp connection, seeing their father in costume merely as portraying a strong black man, worthy of respect (and they don’t know the history and social context of mac daddy). But readers of TW’s tweet are not so innocent and might well be disturbed by the image.

Now for something completely different, and (I think) genuinely lighthearted: a small San Francisco restaurant (1453 18th St., on Potrero Hill) named Mac Daddy, because its specialties are “playful mac ‘n’ cheese combos, salads & American sides”. Part of a trend in restaurants turning comfort food into exquisite upscale specialities. I mean, like truffle mac ‘n’ cheese.

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