Sole Focus

News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish

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Location: Georgia, United States

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Archie Bunker

I grew up watching a show called All In The Family. It’s an American classic and Archie Bunker is a pop culture icon who is as popular today as he was over thirty years ago. He lives on in reruns and the show itself still gets huge ratings. Why is Archie such a sensation? What made him catch on the way he did back in 1971 and remain a hit for all these years? Archie certainly isn’t your typical American male. He’s a bigot and a hardheaded neophyte when it comes to accepting things that are new or evolving. Yet he is beloved by millions and his fan base grows with each generation.

As contemporary as Archie is today, he is a picture of the US past. His way of life and the world he grew up in dissolved right before his very eyes and his way of coping with the change was to rail against it with all his might. He let his prejudices become the focal point of his view of the world. In doing so, he often shot himself in the foot, so to speak, and no matter how hard he tried to hold on to the values and the ideals with which he was raised there was always someone waiting to drag him into the present. From politics to religion to women’s lib to homosexuality, Archie dealt with them all in his own hilarious way and even though he usually came out looking like the loser in these battles he still learned his lesson, whether he wanted to admit it or not.

Archie Bunker is very much alive and well today. He is the unofficial face of the Conservative Republican Party. They don’t like to acknowledge this but everyone can see it. They are futilely trying to hold on to an idea of America that is skewed and which was never the vision for this country that its founders meant for it to be. Their America only works for them as long as it functions within their vision, and just like Archie the more they fight and bully and try to hold on to something that is long since passed away the more they are forced to see that the world has moved on around them, and that they are becoming relics of a time that no longer exists. If it ever did in the first place.

The thing that makes Archie so popular with television audiences decade after decade is that you either laugh with him or at him. His politics and his beliefs are either ringing true with his fans or tickling them relentlessly with their archaic foundations. Archie doesn’t mean to be a meathead (pardon the pun); he is just a product of the time in which he was raised and for the life of him he can’t see what was wrong with the world he was brought up being taught to recognize. For him, his way of life was the realization of the American dream. He just didn’t stop to see that everybody else in the country was entitled to their own piece of the pie too.

Like Archie, most of the Conservatives who are trying to prevent the United States from catching up with the rest of the Western world don’t even realize that the America they hold so dear is a dream that they alone shared. Our country was founded by brave men and women who were willing to fight the greatest power in the world during their time to have a home which worked in their favor and which served them. A government that they would elect and which would uphold their wishes and promote their dreams and make this land fair for everyone. Everyone. Not just one faction of the populace.

That’s where the skewed vision of America takes shape. When this one group believes its idea of America is the only one worth nurturing, battle lines are drawn and people are forced to fight for what they need to enjoy the American dream themselves. How sad this is too. A nation founded on the blood of people who wanted more than anything to pull away from a government that served only one portion of the whole is now embroiled in yet another revolution, almost of the same making.

Fortunately, we don’t have to fight another Civil War to make our point in this day and age. We have technology to get our views out before the public and we have lawmakers from fifty states who believe in many different ways of life. On the down side, those in power are divided into many camps which often don’t agree with each other and therefore leave the door open for things to be mired in rhetoric instead of making steady progress toward fulfilling the vision of America that was held by those who dreamed of a nation of freedom and justice for all.

The last fifty to sixty years in the history of the United States have seen more change and more bitter divisions among our citizens than any other time. Everything from civil rights to women’s liberation to abortion to gay rights have seared the public consciousness. With more and more groups claiming their piece of the American pie those who comprise the Conservative party are facing the reality that their America has changed. Rather than move with the times they are trying to stop the world from its forward motion. As impossible as this task is, they are trying with all their might to do just that. Yet they are failing because time marches on and the world that once was is no more. They just can’t see it.

Archie Bunker is everywhere you look nowadays. The irony is that the only place he’s still consistently funny is within the confines of his television world. The Archies who are living in the present with everyone else are becoming ugly, nasty individuals who are ceasing to care about anyone or anything they see as a threat to a way of life they think is still attainable. A way of life only they lived in the first place. A way of life that is, for all intents and purposes, a fantasy of vivid imaginings. For pretending that those with differing opinions aren’t worthy of being recognized only serves to empower the very people they are trying to silence.
And this is my sole focus for now...