Democratic Underground

Let Dubya Live Like Archie Bunker for a While
July 5, 2001
by Whyzayker

Carroll O'Connor left us last week. Our beloved "Archie Bunker" left this world to make heaven that much sweeter. I know the term "national treasure" gets overused but O'Connor and his greatest creation were just that. A character that we despised and loved at the same time, Archie came into our homes every Saturday night and gave people something new to talk about at Sunday dinner. "All in the Family" broke down barriers and we can all be glad that it started in the 70's. Had the show tried to break through in a "Survivor/Weakest Link/Dubya is president" version of America, we would have all been cheated out of one of the most memorable characters ever to grace a TV screen.

Archie Bunker was a classic 70's version of blue collar Republicanism. He loved the flag, he held Nixon in almost regal esteem (remember "Mr. President, Your Honor, Sir?) and had no tolerance for anything that disrupted or challenged what he had always been taught was right. He thought the National Anthem was a great song even though he couldn't remember the words ("…what so proudly we hail..of thee I see"). Archie's words shocked mainstream America. Liberal's were "Commie, pinko fags" and his euphemisms for minorities made us recoil in disbelief. Archie Bunker was a stereotypical conservative.

But in the decade plus that "All in the Family" and later "Archie Bunker's Place" ran on CBS, we witnessed something truly unique and special. We saw this character grow and change through the years and, in turn, we grew to love him and his family. The man who shocked TV audiences in the beginning with his racist, ignorant and intolerant brand of conservatism taught many of us a lesson about the many ills that plague American society both then and now. Unfortunately, there are still many versions of the "old Archie" still among us. People who listen to Rush Limbaugh and believe every lie they are told while they defend the very leaders that are bent on keeping them in their lowly place on the social ladder. Even more unfortunate, many are in powerful positions in Washington, D.C.

Just for fun, picture what Trent Lott or Dick Cheney would have done at that Christmas dinner with their old pal "Pinky"(the man who's son had been killed in Viet Nam) when it was discovered Mike's friend was a draft dodger. How about picturing Tom Delay or Jesse Helms being responsible for giving Beverly LaSalle (the female impersonator) mouth to mouth. Could you picture a Bob Barr or Newt Gingrich taking in an abandoned little girl? Can you picture Dubya giving up a valuable family heirloom to the unrelated lesbian lover of the deceased family member? I don't think so.

The big difference between Archie and those others mentioned is that Archie personally experienced so many things. The sexual attacks on both his wife and daughter, the swastika on his front door followed by the car bomb going off in his front yard, the shock of finding out his bowling buddy "Moose" was gay, the rude awakening when his family turns against him for joining the Queens Council of Crusaders and then to realize the fear of having a cross burned on his daughter's lawn. Granted, more happened to the Bunker household in a year then happens to most people in a lifetime and those characters couldn't help but grow.

We all know "All in the Family" was just a TV show and yet those people became so real to us. Even though the clothes and language can seem dated, the message and lessons contained are as relevant today as they were 30 years ago. The show remains in syndication but now we know Carroll O'Connor is gone. A friend remarked to me the other day that she wished the media hadn't told her about his death. That way she could pretend he would live forever. I had to agree with her. The word seems so much emptier somehow. But something struck me the other day, silly as it was, that made me smile.

Maybe we could move Dubya and his kind into their own little 704 Houser Street. Maybe after spending a few years living the life of Archie Bunker, they too might realize how wrong they are and grow up. Hey, you never know. You gotta have faith and as Archie once said, "Faith is something that no one in their right mind would believe in."

Y'know, Archie? You were a real pip! A real pip! Thank you, Carroll O'Connor. We miss you and we love you.

 
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