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Old 14 January 2014, 05:57 PM
Magdalene Magdalene is offline
 
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Default Attitudes in old TV shows and movies that surprise you

I'm home from work today, and I have an episode of "The Big Valley" on. Audra (Linda Evans) was the victim of an attempted rape, and her mother shot the perpetrator. (Apparently whom had been a friend of a family.)

Later on, Audra is blaming herself, saying she'd been flirting and smiling, and her mother states it was not her fault, it was a fault of the man in question.

I checked the run date of the episode--1965. This struck me as a forward-thinking attitude for that time, especially considering victim-blaming still happens now.

Any attitudes/thoughts in older TV shows/movies that strike Snopesters as very forward for the time period the show was actually *filmed*?

Magdalene
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Old 14 January 2014, 06:10 PM
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At the risk of sounding cynical, I suspect the reason that was the message was that Audra was a "good girl."
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Old 14 January 2014, 06:25 PM
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I was kind of surprised when I recently rewatched "The Mark of Gideon" episode from ST:TOS (I hadn't seen the full episode in a long time because it's one of the worst of the series) and observed that it includes references to sterilization, contraception, and a pro-life viewpoint in a conversation between Kirk and an official of Gideon. Certainly overpopulation was a big issue of the time, but to hear all that mentioned plainly on a network drama produced in 1968 caught me by surprise:

Quote:
HODIN: The birth rate continued to rise, and the population grew, until now Gideon is encased in a living mass who can find no rest, no peace, no joy.

KIRK: Then why haven't you introduced any of the new techniques to sterilise men and women?

HODIN: Every organ renews itself. It would be impossible.

KIRK: Then let your people learn about the devices to safely prevent conception. The Federation will provide anything you need.

HODIN: But you see, the people of Gideon have always believed that life is sacred. That the love of life is the greatest gift. That is the one unshakable truth of Gideon. And this overwhelming love of life has developed our regenerative capacity and our great longevity.

KIRK: And the great misery which you now face.
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Old 14 January 2014, 06:40 PM
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The episode of Gunsmoke with the Chinese guy. Some of the local thugs tried to run him out of town just for being Chinese. Marshal Dillon rescues him and makes a speech about how anyone is welcome in his town, regardless of ethnicity. It is also later revealed that he doesn't even have a Chinese accent, he just fakes one because racists all over find him easier to deal with if he's a caricature.

I thought these were some pretty forward thinking issues for the 50's.

Last edited by Amigone201; 14 January 2014 at 07:10 PM. Reason: Spelling
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Old 14 January 2014, 07:00 PM
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You mean Gunsmoke, right? I haven't seen that show in years.
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Old 14 January 2014, 07:11 PM
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Haha, yeah. Damn autocorrect. This is what gets people into trouble.

I fixed it.
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Old 15 January 2014, 02:34 AM
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I was surprised by an episode of I Love Lucy that tackled domestic violence (not in a Very Special Episode way, but still). With as much as Lucy pretended to be afraid Ricky would hit her, when Fred and Ethel thought he actually had, they did everything they could to convince her to leave him. And Fred told Ricky he needed to learn to manage his anger, etc. All very surreal.
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Old 15 January 2014, 04:04 AM
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Contrast all that with an episode I once saw of 1 Adam 12. There had been an attempted rape of a woman in her ground floor apartment. The two officers were taking the report and the character played by Kent McCord admonished her for leaving her patio door curtain open while she excercised in her tights. "You never know who you're going to arouse" or something that effect.

I was floored.
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Old 15 January 2014, 06:19 AM
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Flipping through the channels yesterday, and caught a glimpse of the most clichéd film I had ever seen. In the 2 minutes I watched it, it went from one hackneyed stereotype to the next. It was set in Africa, and looked like mid 1950s. The "plot" went like this.
  • Whiteman, injured black man, and white woman being chased through African bush.
  • Black man slumps, woman tears up part of dress for bandage.
  • Snake in tree startles woman, white man fires two shots from gun.
  • Nasty white man with a dozen black men hear shots, shout mumbo jumbo, and white man points the way.
  • Other group of "good" black soldiers, led by a white officer, hear noise and come to rescue.
  • White officer sees nasty white man, takes rifle from black soldier, fires wildly, then leads again.
  • White men fight on ground.
  • Bad whiteman falls in to river.
  • Crocodiles head in to water.
  • Good white man goes to rescue.
At this point my head hurt so I changed over.
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Old 15 January 2014, 06:38 AM
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I'm impressed how a gay character is played on an episode of Night Court. He is not flaming or even effeminate. It deals extensively with how oversexed Dan reacts to being around a man he knows to be gay (they actually end up trapped in an elevator alone together). First Dan acts like it is catching and/or that the guy is going to make a play for him, but as he gets to know him better it is made clear he's just a person like anyone else. The actor who plays the gay man is one who was on the show in a handful of different roles over the many years Night Court was on the air, and he plays the role as he does any of the others, without any gay "tells" or affectations. On the rare occasion a gay man was included in a sit-com at that time, usually it was entirely for comedic effect (laughing at the character). The comedy in that episode of Night Court, however, comes from poking fun at the silly ways other people's prejudices cause them to interact with the character: he is the "straight man" as it were.
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Old 15 January 2014, 05:03 PM
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I thought the character of Joan Weldon in Them! was surprisingly advanced for her time. She's the scientist's daughter, but is a fully qualified etymologist herself, and insists on going underground into the giant ant's nest because she's the only one who knows what to look for (and her father is too frail). She does scream, but only when one of the giant ants attacks her, and acquits herself well.

Going further back, Chaplin's Modern Times shows both cocaine use and homosexuality in prison. The former is given the spotlight, but the latter can be missed (look at the guy two places in front of Chaplin at 1:43 of the linked clip). It clearly plays to the gay stereotype of the time, of course, but the concept was fairly sophisticated for the time.
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Old 15 January 2014, 05:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
She's the scientist's daughter, but is a fully qualified etymologist herself, and insists on going underground into the giant ant's nest ...
Does she say, "Ah yes, ants - a social insect whose name comes from the Old English / Germanic 'aemete'. Interestingly, the original word is preserved more closely in the Cornish variant 'emmet' which is also used to refer to tourists..."? I hope she had time to explain all that before getting eaten.
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Old 15 January 2014, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes
I was kind of surprised when I recently rewatched "The Mark of Gideon" episode from ST:TOS (I hadn't seen the full episode in a long time because it's one of the worst of the series) and observed that it includes references to sterilization, contraception, and a pro-life viewpoint in a conversation between Kirk and an official of Gideon.
Not really surprising considering the majority of Star Trek: TOS episodes consisted as Gene Roddenberry's "morality plays", as Nichelle Nichols put it. Gene was always looking for ways to insert social and political issues into the stories, for example racism in "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield", without arousing the censors. You could get away with that in a sci-fi format.

Seeing as this particular episode came some nine years after the introduction of the Pill in the U.S., I get the impression that Gene was trying to make a statement along those lines, since contraception was a big issue back in the 1960s.

Last edited by Dondi; 15 January 2014 at 06:35 PM.
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Old 15 January 2014, 06:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
Going further back, Chaplin's Modern Times shows both cocaine use and homosexuality in prison.
Cocaine use was pretty common in the late 19th and early 20th century.
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Old 15 January 2014, 06:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mags
I'm impressed how a gay character is played on an episode of Night Court. He is not flaming or even effeminate.
Even earlier on an episode of All in the Family, there featured an non-effeminate gay character. In fact, it was a former football buddy of Archie's. And actually, the episode juxtaposed this with an effeminate friend of Mike's (Meathead) who Archie thought WAS gay, but in reality was not. Of course, it played for laughs when Archie discovers his own friend is gay.
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Old 15 January 2014, 07:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dondi View Post
Even earlier on an episode of All in the Family, there featured an non-effeminate gay character. In fact, it was a former football buddy of Archie's. And actually, the episode juxtaposed this with an effeminate friend of Mike's (Meathead) who Archie thought WAS gay, but in reality was not. Of course, it played for laughs when Archie discovers his own friend is gay.
And then there's the one in which Archie discovers that he himself is a goy.
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Old 15 January 2014, 07:31 PM
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One thing that surprised me in a way that 1 Adam 12 surprised DrRocket was the ending to an episode of MASH.

I was always struck with how contemporary and progressive the attitudes of MASH were (at least when I paid attention). It got more progressive as the seasons went on and I know I definitely overlooked a lot of sexism and problematic attitudes towards women, but in never seemed dangerous or malicious.

However, there is one episode where there is some kind of visiting female. I don't remember any of the details, but she had the hots for Frank. At the end, she puts the moves on him and he rejects her. They are walked in on and she literally starts crying "RAPE" and accusing Frank of attacking her. To make matters worse, she even disarranges her clothes as she's talking to the other characters who unquestionably believe her.

This scene plays into the worst stereotypes about sexual assault you can imagine and it's played for laughs. I can't even imagine the damage it did to the common understanding of women who accuse men of rape in our society.
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Old 15 January 2014, 08:20 PM
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The first episode of M*A*S*H featured a "nurse auction."
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Old 15 January 2014, 08:25 PM
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Another low moment occurred in an early episode when there is concern that the hospital is going to overrun by the enemy.

Quote:
Margaret: Colonel, if we are overrun, may I remind you of your responsibility for the women of this command! What guarantee do we have concerning the violations of our bodies, the possibly numerous, multiple violations of our bodies by the enemy?

Hawkeye: What kind of guarantee do you want?
I loved MASH but the early years were not a shining beacon of enlightenment where women were concerned.
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Old 15 January 2014, 08:28 PM
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The early episodes of MASH were unbearable in that way. I can't watch any episodes featuring Trapper John; it was a totally different show then.
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