Christmas vacation tends to give us a little more down time, although I always have plenty to do. Still, there’s a little more time to reflect, relax and look back on things.
Often, I like to share Christmas memories with my kids and even my students. I’ve told them stories about the Sears catalog and all the old shows we used to watch on TV. They seem interested most of the time, but maybe they are being nice.
One thing I’ve done for several years is read the book “The House Without a Christmas Tree” to my kids as well as my students. We always end up watching the movie before we leave for Christmas vacation. It’s always fun to see book characters brought to life, even though we are often aware of changes from book to screenplay. Most of us agree that the book is better most of the time.
We watched again this year. Now, the television movie was shot in 1972 and it’s rather dated. The story is set in 1946, and the production looks a little like they filmed a stage play. Still, it’s classic, well written and it has fantastic actors like Jason Robards and Mildred Natwick.
I never miss it and am always happy that my kids and students still enjoy the book and movie. But in order to watch, we have to pop in a DVD. It’s no longer shown on TV.
As we watched this year, I began to wonder why these shows aren’t on television anymore. I then started thinking about some of the old cartoons and even some plays I’ve been in. You don’t hear about these shows anymore, no matter how good they were. Some of those great old cartoons and TV shows will most likely never be heard from again.
“House” has a few things that might be taken as offensive. There are Christmas carols. There aren’t any students of various races in the 1946 Nebraska classroom of the main character, save for a Hispanic girl who is the only poor student in town (she doesn’t have a Christmas tree, either). The school kids put on a play about the birth of Jesus. For real. And this is based on a true story.
They put the show on in the school auditorium and it appears that the school and church are in cahoots to produce the show. Interesting. I’m sure if I listened closer, I would hear and notice some things that weren’t politically correct.
I always talk about those aspects with kids. I talk about how things were different in the 1940s, whether right or wrong. We often talk about prejudice, even regarding Christian beliefs. It’s important stuff to discuss.
I think of the old cartoons in which Bugs Bunny would affect the accent of an African American stereotype and even sometimes put on blackface. That, of course, should have been highly offensive even long ago, but it wasn’t to many and even made a lot of folks laugh. I do not think those cartoons should be shown.
However, what if they were shown to kids in a package to show how we have evolved (or not evolved) as a society; show them how our world was 70 years ago when the entertainment world thought it was all OK? I still think those shows should be talked about and shown in the correct setting, and I think there are important lessons to be learned from watching. Certainly not for entertainment value.
Still there are television shows, movies and plays that should be shown in this day and age. I also think that if kids see them, parents need to take that opportunity to have conversations with their children.
“You see, this show was shown in the mid-1970s. Did you see anything that was offensive or wrong?”
A lot of shows that are still important should be shown, despite the things that are wrong with them. Then, there should be follow-up. Are we entertained by offensive stuff? We shouldn’t be. But many people still are. Take that opportunity to talk about it with kids.
I do think we go a little overboard with a lot of this PC stuff at times. Someone can always find something to fuss about. I’ve had African American friends point out offensive things to me that I never thought about, and I’ve learned from it and am thankful.
I’ve put things in perspective and tried to see the viewpoints of different people. But that’s just it; we don’t take time to talk, or think, or put ourselves in the shoes of others.
We don’t take time to be empathetic.