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January 27, 2013

I recall sitting cross-legged on the floor at my grandmother's house, about age four, watching the television that occupied a corner in her living room.

This was 1957. Programs were black-and-white, grainy, and shown on ovalish screens housed in massive wood boxes meant to merge with home decor. They also included rabbit ears: telescoping antennae that were periodically adjusted in a never-ending quest to acquire a better image.

We had four channels and, therefore, little need for the yet-to-be-invented, wireless remote.

I wondered what programs black people watched. I presumed there were black televisions for black people that featured black programs. I also fervently believed in Santa Claus.

Thirteen years later I was sitting in a high school classroom when the topic of television programming was discussed. The teacher mentioned the obvious change in television advertisements: They were now including black actors. Even the programming was spotted with a brown face or two; a remarkable evolution from the pattern of the 1950s and early 60s. The black students, who comprised the majority, beamed with approval.

Mayberry was homogeneous.
The most radical change occurred in 1971. Media watchers refer to this as the 'rural purge.' I prefer to a more accurate label, 'the white program pogrom.' This is the year when political correctness overtook conventional business models. In spite of their phenomenal success, a slate of family-oriented white programs were given the ax. Gone were Green Acres, Beverly Hillbillies, Lassie, Hee Haw, Petticoat Junction, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., and any other production that affirmed traditional white American values and almost never included non-white actors.

So severe was the pogrom that veteran actor Pat Buttram quipped, "It was the year CBS cancelled everything with a tree—including Lassie".

The fact that most of the rural-based shows characterized white people as naive and goofy wasn't good enough. Viewer minds needed to be molded to fit a new paradigm that shamed them for their bigotry and educated them in social consciousness.

Enter Norman Lear.

With a clean slate, the networks replaced American-values programming with shows that focused on social commentary. All In the Family invited white viewers to laugh at themselves as they learned that traditional family values were passé. Such shows routinely stereotyped conservatives as narrow-minded bigots.

It was essential that all television programming, including commercials, include black actors. The trend was reflected in theatrical productions.

The problem with the media revolution does not lie with black faces on colored TVs. Rather, the problems lie in the abandon of reality accompanied by an imposition of socially conscious values (read, "Marxism") excused ostensibly to attract younger viewers.

The fictional black characters I see on television are typically created to be white people with black skin. The fictional white characters I see on television are either endowed with a leftist perspective on life (such as a broad acceptance of gays), portrayed as moronic, clueless conservatives with minds warped by out-of-date bigotry, or they are benign.

Need villains? The Ku Klux Klan or neo-Nazis are fair game. The NAACP or Nation of Islam is not. Need a street gang? Young white thugs with a token negro is perfectly acceptable. Young black thugs with a token caucasian is anathema.

The policy of presenting black characters as well-spoken, educated, and successful professionals is, I suppose, intended to purge white minds of stereotyping while impressing young black minds with positive role models.

My beef with the media is that I watch TV to be entertained, not manipulated.

I seem to be alone.

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  1. I like All in the Family. Though intended to denigrate traditional white Americans, I found myself experiencing affinity with Archie Bunker, despite Norman Lear's best efforts.

  2. Hey Kenn! Now we have a ton of Reality Shows which are getting the point across quite vividly (COPs, First 48, Policewomen of Dallas, Hardcore Pawn, etc)
    -Big Don-