While hanging up the 2018 calendar brings the expectation of a whole new year’s worth of opportunity, the same can’t be said of television programing on the last night of 2017.
That’s especially true when alternating between watching marathons of Rod Sterling’s cult followed The Twilight Zone and M*A*S*H, the 1970s era classic set in the Korean War.
It didn’t take too many episodes before a shocking realization hit – the future, as Mr. Berra pointed out, “ain’t what it used to be.”
Down right scary, in fact.
It wasn’t the old black and white images or the eerie plot Mr. Sterling serves up in each episode.
And, no, it wasn’t the wounded in the standard M*A*S*H episode or the jabs at war itself. However, it’s a somewhat sobering thought that we still have troops in the field, fighting in foreign lands. That fact made me wonder if the average American realizes Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals, (MASH)s, operate every day.
The truly frightening part? This world has changed so much that these two family favorites probably couldn’t be on network TV now – a sad statement, isn’t it? It is, however, likely true in our all-too-politically-correct world.
“Hot Lips” Houlihan? Can anyone say sexual harassment? How about when they steal her bathrobe, forcing her to run across camp wearing just a towel?
Calling Frank Burns “Ferret Face?” I’m pretty dern sure that’s a big no, no right now. And what about giving him a knockout drug and putting him in a cast? Bullying?
Or how about the Klinger dress wearing gag? Isn’t that insensitive to some group? And telling Radar to “crawl into his hutch to get some rest”? A short joke indicating he would fit into a guinea pig’s home. Oops.
Then there’s The Twilight Zone where every female actress wears a tight-waisted, skirt and is typically referred to as “Honey?” Egad, there’s that harassment again.
Or how about the episode with the five characters in a cylinder – the gal “has” to be a ballerina right? Stereotyping maybe?
And what about the episode “Living Doll” where Telly Savalas rules his home with an iron enough fist to prompt Talking Tina into taking action. Insensitive to domestic violence right?
There’s more examples in just an afternoon’s worth of viewing – despite the giggles they still draw and the spine tingling thrills of being in the “Zone.”
Oddly enough, the censors were far, far more stringent then on what you could or could not say.
Now, the things we say would probably give a 1960s or 1970s censor a heart attack.
Hatefulness is just plain bad any time, any where.
There’s a lot of good that came from the decades in between I admit. I’m mighty happy that I can wear my boots and jeans and work as a publisher rather than a nanny or secretary.
But it seems we’ve lost something somewhere along the way.
I sure hope we can find some of the good parts or even the innocence in 2018.
– Shannon Crabtree is editor & publisher of the El Campo Leader-News.