Tuesday, May 15, 2007
meatheads and dingbats in summertime
Found a book on All In The Family, the show that started just as the ‘summer’timeframe (1971-1977) took off. And rightly so! All In The Family helped people through the mounting insecurities of all changes in society. Haven’t yet read all about this incredibly funny TV show that ran all the way through the seventies.The characters were carefully matched with the times. Archie Bunker, the bigot, simply refusing any change around him, king in his lounge chair, his ‘stupid’ wife Edith ('dingbat'), who stood for anything Good and Caring and ‘Meathead’ Mike, his son in law and liberal, always attacking his views. Like on violence.
Mike: "Violence won’t help!" Archie: "What’s wrong with revenge? That’s a perfect way to get even."
Never one for real arguments, Archie just kept to his own world view. Gloria, his daughter was the one mostly resembling the feeling of the seventies: looking for her own identity, wanting to be independent, but not always able to pull it off. What she did know, however, was that her mother had to change: “Submitting to him, That’s what she’s doing. Submitting to her king...her ruler...her lord and master.” Archie: “Ain’t that a nice way of putting it?”
There were many doubts before putting the show on TV. In the beginning, they started each show with a warning: “The program you are about to see is All in the Family. It seeks to throw a humorous light on our frailties, prejudices and concerns. By making them a source of laughter, we hope to show - in a mature fashion - just how absurd we are.”
And that was what the show did: it brought a little humor in the heavy topics the society in this ‘out-of-control’ summer period had to deal with. People were on the move, they just needed a little encouragement. All In The Family delivered. When asked why the show was so succesful, ‘Archie’ said: “the answer, I think, is that Everyman, when he looks at Archie, knows he is not looking at himself; he is happily looking back at what he was.”
Even so, Archie Bunker’s fear of change reflected the daily anxiety of the white heterosexual man in the seventies: everybody was emancipating, and where does that leave him? In the series, when his daughter Gloria is once again making a speech on human rights, Archie belts out: What about my rights? I know I got a lot going against me. I’m white, I’m protestant and I’m hardworking - but can’t you find some lousy amendment that protects me?
All that, and funny too.