This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Those Were the Days
Most will remember the lovable buffoon known as Archie Bunker, but for those who don’t, he was the title character of a 1970s sitcom, All in the Family. Archie was an ultra-conservative, WWII veteran, blue-collar worker, and old-school traditionalist. He was a sexist, but he loved his wife Edith dearly, just as long as she does not forget his five o’clock beer! He adored his daughter Gloria; however, he did not feel the same about his leftist son-in-law, Michael “Meathead” Stivic.
A generation of Americans tuned in weekly to watch a relatable, every-day character. Archie was hilarious, though there was an undertone that often is not discussed. Simply, a group of liberals portray all the main characters, including the ultra-Conservative Bunker who they portrayed as a brainless being. In doing so, show creator Norman Lear tarnished Archie’s character. Lear is a staunch Democrat and wanted to do two things through Archie. First, he sought to make conservatives look dumber than dumb. Secondly, to get Richard Nixon out of office (pre-Watergate) and continue to tarnish his damaged reputation (post-Watergate).
If Norman Lear was the only Progressive hanging around the set, it could have been coincidental. However, when Carroll O’Connor stood to have his own liberal beliefs advanced, he put extra effort into Archie’s slapstick stupidity. Rob Reiner, who portrayed pinko-stinko-hippie-freak Michael Stivic, would see his agenda pushed through his character also. Two great characters came out of the screen into living rooms because two actors stood much to gain by giving their all into their performances.
Archie Bunker will always be a pop culture icon, though he will also always be a polarizing character. One side of the token, Archie is a hard-working, dedicated man with dreams and aspirations. How does this not define every single person on planet earth? In retrospect, he was also known for his Joe Biden-esque gaffs. Bunker’s primary excuse was he had the intelligence of a two-year-old. He did not just use words out of context, but completely incorrect ones. Many argue he was victorious in arguments with the Meathead, but only small victories for viewers to feel satisfied. In the end, how he won arguments, through Bunker-tantrums and silly comments, made Liberals laugh at Conservatives.
Lear: An Old School, Hollywood, Elitist Democrat
Norman Lear’s primary purpose of creating All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Good Times, and Maude was for commercial success and financial gain. Lear’s legacy will always go down as the Godfather of political sitcoms. He paved the way for this niche brand. However, his second reason was to use these characters to push his political agenda. Lear is an ardent Liberal-Democrat and founded People for the American Way (PFAW), which is a Progressive advocacy group. This group challenged the Christian right and their Moral Majority platform. Today, he has written articles for the left-leaning Huffington Post, a ripe vehicle for him to spread his message.
Lear is a supporter of free university education, an advocate of higher taxes (he can afford it), and abortion. In fact, in 1981, he left television to focus on his Leftist activism and PFAW. His net worth is $700 million and he has used marginal percentages to fund and create liberal organizations, a.k.a elitist tax write-offs. He’s given millions to Planned Parenthood (founded by a eugenicist), the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC), and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). ACLU, in particular, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center, have traditionally made some hasty decisions when it comes to labeling the right. Like Lear, they have used power and influence to diminish the Conservative message. We saw this when they spent $25 million attacking Republican candidates in the 2018 election cycle.
Norman Lear deserves much credit for creating so many successful television series. His legacy in television should never be tarnished. Although he should be ashamed for how he painted Conservatives. His actions have continued the left to right interpretation we see today. Sure, back in the day, everyone (including Liberals) loved Archie for entirely different reasons. Conservatives loved him for his humor and relatability. Liberals saw him as a stupid oaf and laughed at him, not with him. Considering Lear’s belief system, this is not coincidental. With his influence, he was able to achieve this more than moderately.
Before the Internet, and before Lear came out with his politics in 1981, Americans did not think much of Archie’s mannerisms. No connection was made because transparency about Hollywood was only available through The National Enquirer. Today, with so much information at our disposal, we can look back and make all the connections. It is now clearly evident Lear purposefully tried to squash Conservative rhetoric, besmear Conservatives, and progress Progressivism all through his onscreen characters.
Lear Was Not the Only One
Carroll O’Connor played Archie Bunker, and it should be added did it quite well. A lifelong Liberal, he endured his fame from playing the prototypical working-class bigot. He played the character who Lear wanted to look like a “multidimensional horses’ ass,” as that is his view of Conservatives. O’Connor, a talented character actor, with his own ax to grind towards Conservatism, birthed a legacy with a hidden narrative. Before his death, he would not just stop at drug-related legislation (after his son’s death), he would push for left-leaning bills to pass as well.
It was not much of a stretch to get Rob Reiner to portray a Communist-hippie-indoctrinated college student accurately. Reiner has spent his life fighting for Liberal and anti-smoking causes. Like Lear, he founded a Progressive activism group known as the American Foundation for Equal Rights. This group’s first big challenge was to combat California’s Prop 8, a proposition that sought to ban gay marriage. Reiner’s character Michael Stivic supported former Senator George McGovern (D-SD) in 1972. Now almost 50 years later, Reiner endorses Sleepy Joe Biden (D-DE).
Jean Stapleton, who played Edith “Dingbat” Bunker (nee Baines), was a grating, yet sympathetic character who was Archie’s devoted wife. She was often humiliated by her “sexist” husband, but she loved him unconditionally. Stapleton was a very private person off-camera, but it is well known she too was Liberal. Mostly center-left, while not as vocal as her colleagues, she was an ardent Walter Mondale Democrat. Hence, when three lefties were cast to play titular characters on a show created by a Progressive Leftist, it is not coincidental that subtle anti-Conservative undertones were present.
Remembering the Legacy of Archie Bunker
Archie Bunker will not be remembered as a bigoted factory worker, cabbie, or bar owner, nor should he be. He was a lovable and devoted man who embodied pride for his country and work ethic. TV Guide named the character number 5 on their 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time. Similarly, Bravo named him number 1 on their list of 100 Greatest TV Characters. No doubt, the character will stand the sands of time, and forever live in infamy. Positively, of course, this is how he should and will be remembered.
Unfortunately, he will also be remembered as a laughing stock for generations of Liberals. Today’s left is more left than most Liberals in those days, yet most see all Conservatives in 2020 no differently than Bunker in the 70s and 80s. Some argue Archie paved the way for the modern depiction of an American Conservative. Yes, most Leftists see Conservatives as either cross-burning Confederates, or brain-dead sycophants. Directly or indirectly, All in the Family, though an amazing show, is a fractional part of historical events that led to the depiction of present-day Conservatives.
Norman Lear is the puppet master who dangled Archie on a string and will always embody elitist Hollywood. Of course, he supports higher taxes when his net worth is $700 million. A tax hike would not impact his wallet. Lear doesn’t care about his viewers or Americans for that matter. Like most of Hollywood, he is a hypocrite. If you are going to create political sitcoms you should be moderate and without affiliations. Yet, he used his platform to push his biased agenda, even when it came at the expense and legacy of one of the best television characters of all time.