I am a fan of game shows. In fact, my wife and I have both appeared on Wheel of Fortune. I’d bomb out on a show like Jeopardy, although she’d do great.
When I was a kid, two of my favorite shows were The Price Is Right and Family Feud. I still occasionally watch The Feud as my kids like it and it is the only place in my life where I can hear someone talk about making whoopee.
The difference between watching The Feud now and when I was a kid is that no matter who the host is, the goal of the show no longer appears to be for them to stick their tongue down the women contestants throats as Richard Dawson did. As far as I can tell, this was thought of as charming back in the day instead of what it really is which is gross and a form of sexual assault.
The Price Is Right wasn’t as bad, but creepy Bob Barker still did what he could to get kisses on his cheek and if you were a woman he’d occasionally let you reach in to his pocket to grab some money. Somehow nobody had a problem with any of this.
It wasn’t just game shows where women were treated this way (The Whammy’s on Press Your Luck never did anything wrong by the way). Two of my favorite movies growing up were “Animal House” and “Revenge of the Nerds.” It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized they both had “hilarious” rape scenes in them. In “Animal House” it was when the teenage girl was passed out and the devil and angel argued on the shoulders of Pinto as to whether or not he should “fuck her brains out.”
In “Revenge of the Nerds,” Lewis Slotnick sneaks up on the hot female star in a costume, convinces her that he’s her boyfriend and proceeds to go down on her and have sex with her. He’s so good at it that instead of being mad that she was raped she thinks it’s so awesome that she decides to date him. Score one for the nerds who proved to everyone that they can be good at sex, even if they have to rape you to do it.
Sixteen Candles is another movie where rape happens and it’s no big deal. The jock gives his girlfriend to Anthony Michael Hall, telling him that she’s so drunk she won’t know the difference. They don’t actually show him raping her and it’s implied that because she’s a senior and popular and he’s a freshman that it’s actually cool, kind of like when a female teacher sleeps with a student.
And while it’s from the 50’s, I can’t forget watching “The Honeymooners” where the hilarious go to line involved Jackie Gleason telling his wife he ought to kick the shit out of her. That’s just comedy gold.
Thankfully none of these things would happen today because social media would call them out for what they are right away. But what the hell was wrong with people that nobody had a problem with this stuff 30 years ago. It’s not the same as me wondering how African Americans were forced to use different drinking fountains when my parents were a kid, but it’s not that far off either.
Which makes me wonder. Every generation seems to do something that makes the next generation think they were idiots. What are we doing now that in 30 years we will look back on and wonder how we could have been so stupid?
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