Bigots, Racists, and Sexists, Oh My

In recent days i had some feedback about the social climate of the era of old time radio. the feeling was that that generation was overly racist, bigoted, and sexist. Mostly in comedy genres, but across the board. I was reminded of a fellow podcaster who introduced an episode with words to the affect that he was warning the sensitive ears of todays listener of some infraction or other of political correctness. Sometimes I think warnings like that are unnecessary and actually a little petty. I’m not trying to defend any bad behavior. I want to take time to say that all generations have redeeming qualities as well as ugly qualities.

There’s a label that has been going around for the older generation, but though I will agree they were a great generation, they aren’t the greatest one. They have many qualities to be admired, an ethic of proper behavior, modesty, hard work and diligence to name a few. Qualities that seem to be lacking when compared to the current generation. That’s not entirely true, but a broad statement.

Our current version of pop culture has made huge strides in leveling the playing field, where it comes to giving a fair chance to people of color and for women. Sterotypical roles have become a thing of the past.

Briefly, one generation points to the future and wags their heads in shame at a loss in morality, for example, but doesn’t see the benefits that has come through technology or civil rights. The other generation looks back and takes offense at a double standard where women and ethnic groups were pushed aside.

I’m not trying to judge either as right or wrong, just making an observation. Challenge me if you like. I have a comments form.

Here’s where I’m going with this. Let’s project ourselves into the future of 50 years from now.

Think of what we think is the norm today. What’s so cool, and fashionable? What qualities do we hold most dear?

Now what if our next generation looks back at us and is horrified and offended at those ideals and standards that we don’t even think about. We just take it for granted that it’s just the way it is.

Fashions change so fast, that’s a given. It only takes looking at the cool hair styles and clothes of 5 to 10 years ago to see that they were dorky and uncool.

What is there in our culture that is the accepted thing to do? Same sex marriage? In the days of classic radio, that kind of thing was only the butt of jokes. A ridiculous thing that was a no brainer. It simply was not meant to be. It went against nature. Is it any more natural just because a few decades have passed? What if the cultural climate changes again, and it no longer is accepted? I’m not saying it is or isn’t. Not saying it will or it won’t. It’s just an example.

My point is that things change, some for the better, and some for the worse. What one generation values, another shuns.

I haven’t quite gotten around to bigotry. It’s a quality that’s best seen in others. But if you can see it in others, they’re probably seeing it in you. Ouch. Now I’m stepping on my own toes too.

I don’t know that I want to pursue this part of my rant, other than to take a long look at the things, people, or life circumstances that we really want to change the most. Try this mental exersize. Think of a thing, or type of person that you wish you could remove from the face of the earth. Oh, come on, admit it. There’s at least one type of person who you think the world would be a much better place without. You don’t have to share that information with me. The point is that everybody is bigotted about something, it’s not wise to point fingers without having some point back at you.

Nobody is perfect. Just realize that while you’re at liberty to be offended by somebody else, in a different culture, place, or time, they just might be equally offended at you. Accept the things that are for what they are. Old time radio and that version of pop culture is history. You can’t change it. It is what it is. Be annoyed by certain things, try to emmulate the good stuff, and maybe we can strive for a better future together.

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2 thoughts on “Bigots, Racists, and Sexists, Oh My”

  1. Yes, we assume that the way things are today is natural and normal; those misguided people in the past just didn’t know any better. Nobody ever wonders what the next generation will think of the great achievements we prize so highly. One Australian TV network once put a blanket ban on showing any movies or TV shows from the 1970s because they thought their audience would laugh at them!
    We might find ourselves in that situation someday … 🙂

  2. Thanks for the comment Michael. Just to add to this a little, the original conversation that sparked this article was in a positive light. The topic just sat in my mind and smoldered a little. One good thing about it is that folks in the new generation are discovering, and becoming fans of the old radio shows.

    I think it’s a lost area of entertainment that radio networks are missing out on. Music and short news blurbs may be easy, and cater to a short attention span, but from audio podcasts I listen to, people admit they are limited in watching a video. You feel tied to the screen. With audio, you can be doing anything: running, driving, washing the dishes, etc. You can engage your mind, get involved in the story, and still be free to get things done.

    Sure, you can be entertained with a barrage of short bits, but when there’s a long stretch of work to do, you get tired of hearing the same top 40 song playing 5 times an hour. A longer, unfolding story can make it go a lot better.

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