Please leave my childhood alone liberal America. In a recent move that makes about as much sense as banning pepperoni from a pizza parlor, the television network TV Land, (known for running nostalgic shows from the 60s and 70s) in reaction to the current Confederate Flag controversy has decided to remove “The Dukes of Hazzard” from its lineup of shows. The reality that I'm probably one of only 12 people in America that still enjoys catching the Duke Boys notwithstanding, this seems as un-American as it gets – or is it sadly what America has become?! We are turning into a group of coddled knee jerk reactionary wussies! And I understand revisionist history, but when it extends to the television shows I watched as a child, I have just one thing to say — “Kiss my grits!”
Let's begin with me acknowledging that my anger has little, if nothing to do with some of the recent decisions regarding the Confederate Flags removal from government buildings. I am absolutely fine with that. I have no desire to listen to people that choose to back that flag, with their lengthy explanations of “that flag is our history” or “it represents heritage, not hate.” Those arguments died years ago in my opinion, when the good people of the South allowed that flag to be adopted as a symbol of hate by various factions throughout this country. If you didn't want your Confederate “heritage” to be misconstrued as “hate”, you should've self-policed, and removed the flag from the hand of each and every idiot waving it as they committed atrocious acts. Sorry to remind the South some 150 years later – but you lost.
My anger comes with the hypocrisy by which TV Land, and for that matter many Americans, choose to conduct their daily lives with. Okm, TV Land, you were afraid of the Confederate Flag backlash and you yanked The Dukes. Fair enough.
I don't remember the Dukes as having even a single moment of racist undertone. In fact the Duke Boys were counter culture – something most my liberal friends seem to champion. They fought an oppressive antagonist in J.D. Hogg. They outwitted Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane regularly. They listen to their Uncle Jesse's advice. They gave back to the community as the song said “...fightin' the system like a true modern day Robin Hood”...and every episode ended with Boss Hogg and The Dukes coming to some type of agreement to solve their problems. Aren't these all admirable American character traits? But because of one flag on top of the show's car, we can't watch it in reruns? If anything TV Land, have some backbone, and yank the show for its overt sexism cause as a 10-year-old boy, those shorts Daisy wore have obviously done more long term damage to myself than some stupid flag.
Let's have a look at some of your other fine programming TV Land...
All In The Family...That's right folks. TV Land doesn't want you to see a couple “good ol’ boys” fighting a corrupt county official like Boss Hoggbut they have no problem with Archie Bunker using colorful racial colloquialisms like Coon, Kike, Spic, and Chink in every episode.This is hypocrisy at its finest, and oddly enough, the only reason anybody watches TV Land – for nostalgic purposes. Seems to somehow excuse the continued running of All in the Family in many people's opinion. And before you get your Archie Bunker-esque heavy cotton trousers in a bunch, I'm not trying to compare the social relevance of The Dukes with All in the Family. Apples and oranges.
I was reminded that All In The Family was ground breaking in what it did, by being the first show to openly address racial issues with such candor. I was reminded that the Archie Bunker character was a loveable working class boob – and in most episodes would be put in his place. That the show had a level of honesty and hidden morality not found in today's television...and I agree with all those points. But it still doesn't take away the fact that the show contains some highly overt racism— not “Confederate Flag on the top of a car flying through the air” racism — but in your face “N” word racism....
When I was young we watched shows like All in the Family, The Jeffersons, and Barney Miller. When racial content happened on the screen, my family explained to me what was happening — and if they felt it was too much for my 10 year old ears – I was told to leave the room. How hard is that?! Why is the position of parent being taken away? Yeah Yeah I know – there are a lot of bad parents out there, but that is a different column. I just don't get the rationale in removing one show and not the other? Let's be very honest with ourselves. If you are a 50-year-old man that has never seen either The Dukes or All in the Family, I highly doubt watching them is going to sway your moral compass and lead you down the path of racism nor do I believe watching either of these shows would be so offensive, that you'd be one to contact TV Land, and ask for their removal. So who is TV Land attempting to protect – or let's be honest – attempting to appease?
And attention TV Land, here is something for you to chew on: There are no kids watching your programming. None. There are no parents needed to explain away the Dukes confederate flag adorned car just as there are no parents needed to explain Archie's racist buffoonery because the only people watching – have already seen the show! This is the basis by which your network exists. The generations you cater to, grew up in a time when we had only three channels. and we watched television as a family. The word “appointment television” is a word thrown around now, to describe must see shows. In my day they were all “must see shows” — because they were the only shows to see. There are no racists in the world that go to your network to remind themselves of the wonderful television racism of the past – they watch old shows to feel nostalgic. And you TV Land are just the “nostalgia provider”— not the “nostalgia police.” My generation doesn't need a baby sitter to decide what we should watch. And as for today's youth. . .
The youth of today are a bunch of hyper-sensitive wussies. This is something we have created through years of coddling. They have their ears tuned to pick up on offensive words – while context and message fly over their heads like the General Lee. I have a hundred dollar bill that says, i you put a group of 8th grade students in a room today, and have them watch an episode of The Dukes and All in the Family – that 90% of them will find All in the Family much more offensive. While the other 10% will choose The Dukes because — well because they are 8th graders, and feel the need to be different.
I'm done ranting now, and am off to Santa Cruz with the family...but I'd just like to be clear to TV Land.
“You aren't gonna fix anybody's childhood, by trying to remove mine” — Lloyd Barbasol
Everybody have a safe Fourth of July weekend...God Bless America!
And happy 90th birthday to my grandma June Cunningham – see you at the roast.