Rough guess. By now everyone over the age of 13 would like to smash in their sets whenever one of the four networks airs their latest passel of pitiful programming. Squeezed inside ill-fitting labels like sitcom, reality, game, news or interview, these shows are driving the adult viewership to cable.
But before we snobbishly dismiss the pop culture of the networks, lets pause in honor of the historic role it’s played in our lives. By the sheer insistence of its nightly presence in our homes, network television has helped humanize and normalize once forbidden feelings.
Today’s independent woman…? Thank programs like Mary Tyler Moore, Cagney & Lacey, even Roseanne. Gays…? Thank you Ellen DeGeneres, Will & Grace, and Queer for the Straight Guy. African Americans…? Hats off to the Bill Cosby Show, Sidney Poitier, and Diahann Carroll. Learning how to laugh at our own stereotyping madness…? Who better to watch than the mad master of all stereotyping cliches thank Archie Bunker!
Folks like me spent years in the classroom learning that there actually is such a phenomenon as the “teachable moment.” When the learner is ready, the teacher will appear. Often in the low-IQ guise of network television. And there are other unlikely suspects. Your local beauty parlor, barber shop, corner tavern, and sports bar. Wherever people are gathered in a relaxed un-threatening setting, some of the most remarkable little truths can sneak out.
Before we become too celebratory about our progress, check out this report from the Southern Poverty Law Center: “In part because of fears that whites will become a minority in the US, the number of patriot militia groups rose from 149 in the last presidential election year (2008) to 1,274 for the 2012 election year.”
Better cork the champagne until this November when we learn just how much of the asylum has been taken over by the inmates.
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