Lately I have been giving a lot of thought to my formative years. Perhaps it’s a sign of age, or indicative of another birthday looming just around the corner. I don’t know.
There are a few things I do know. One of them is the approximate date when America took a wrong turn down the road marked [Politically Correct]. It was 1968. It began, innocently enough, with the concept that it just wasn’t “right” anymore to make fun of people who, prior to that time, were fair game. “The War on Stereotypes” had begun and it was all for the sake of the children.
[Eleven cartoons that prominently featured stereotypical black characters (and a few passing jokes about Japanese people, as was the case with Coal Black and de Sebben Dwarfs and Jungle Jitters) were withdrawn from distribution in 1968 and are known as the Censored Eleven.]
From that point on it’s been down hill all the way. One by one all the really entertaining Looney Tunes & Merrie Melodies shorts were no longer aired on American television, nor are they available for sale by Warner Bros. It was suddenly very wrong to poke fun at fat people, or people who stuttered, or, for that matter, even looked funny. None of us saw it coming at the time and today only some of us over a certain age can even remember where we got our basic training in wiseassery and sarcasm. The real Porky Pig, Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny are no more. They were replaced by stand-ins, surgically altered and politically correct shadows of their former selves. The engineering of American children had begun and the first tender roots of what would grow to be known as the “Self-esteem Movement” slowly and resolutely sank themselves into fertile soil. As tenacious as crab grass and as irritating to those of us who remember a less pampered childhood as poison ivy.
No doubt some will disagree, find fault with my conclusions. So be it.
My thesis is a simple one. We were a much tougher, more connected and honest nation when we permitted children to grow up as the offspring of ALL animals have since the beginning of time. Like chickens in a yard. Pecked at and picked upon for any and all apparent shortcomings and failures to be, or, act normally. Hard and often cruel as it was it represented Nature and, try as we may, we will never surpass through artificial means what Nature achieves naturally. The standards were set and it was up to everyone to live up to them or face the horrible consequences. If you were fat you got called Porky and our school yards were not full of butterballs clutching their inhalers. If you did poorly at schoolwork you got called Goofy and did your best to improve because Diplomas for just showing up had not been invented yet. If you had a speech impediment you worked day and night to correct it or your life became more and more unbearable. A little Bugs Bunny lived in the soul of us all in those days and I submit that the world was a far better place for it.
Just look at us now. Shortcomings and infirmities instead of being something to overcome or be ashamed of are Free Passes to services and praise for just having something to overcome, whether you ever do or not. Kids who never once in a season get even a piece of a pitched ball or catch one, for that matter, are guaranteed trophies. Children, instead of picking each other apart as Nature clearly intended, have in sheer desperation been forced to turn on their teachers who themselves have been rendered defenseless. By removing what was “Naturally” funny from a child’s universe we have inadvertently turned education into a joke. We have weakened our stock by creating a wholly artificial and inhuman world for our children. Is it any wonder so many are utterly incapable of ever truly growing up?
I watched TV last night and I was particularly struck by the ubiquitous pharmaceutical commercials. Ten percent of the commercial was good looking people smiling as a soothing voice told you how good the drug was. 90% was a list of the absolutely HORRIBLE things that could happen to you if you took it! BUT, you were strongly advised to ask your doctor if you should. Personally, I never ask the guy who sells shoes if he thinks I should buy some.
I wondered how it all came to this. I wondered how everybody got to be so stupid. I remembered when “Saturday Night Live” could have run one of those commercials with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd doing the talking and it would have been talked about and laughed about for weeks. Today it passes for serious. I submit to the gentle reader that it passes for serious for the same reason we tolerate lying, money grubbing politicians who send young foolhardy Americans to die in ridiculous wars for corporate profits. For the same reason we accept phony tits and Presidential candidates with freshly planted plugs of corn-rowed hair. For the same reason we crave the latest gossip of what pampered rich spoiled brat just checked into rehab…..
Because when they killed the real Bugs and Porky and Daffy and all the rest something inside of all of us died along with them. The ability to spot the loser in the crowd, the societal “self-correction” apparatus that kept us all on the strait and narrow. We knew who the “Maroons” were and “Get a load of THAT or HIM or HER” were not phrases alien to our ears. We knew how to laugh then and instinctively we KNEW what was funny.
Today, it’s all gone and instead of watching Looney Tunes… we live it, without seeing it… and nobody is laughing much anymore. Except, of course, those of us who can remember.
That’s All Folks