U2 – “Get On Your Boots” (2009)

January 19, 2009 at 6:21 pm (Music, U2)

U2’s brand new single….out today. Let me know what you think…

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“The Genius of Norman Lear”

January 19, 2009 at 2:14 am (Reviews & Articles)

Written Jan. 18, 2009…

You know what I never quite fully appreciated until now, probably since I hadn’t seen the show since I was a teenager (until I watched it again recently)? The fact that Norman Lear brilliantly skewered middle class white liberal views (not to mention “white guilt”) on Maude, just as well as he sent up poor white conservative prejudices on All in the Family.
And you realize that Maude could be just as patronizing towards minorities as Archie could be, and was just as oblivious about that fact. In some instances, she came across even worse because she was always trying too hard to prove to them that she thought of them as equals, yet she would be subconsciously trying to get them to change to what she thought they could or should be (like the episode when Florida Evans was hired). Whereas Archie obviously didn’t give a damn and wasn’t trying to change them. He simply wanted them to go away. But Maude, despite her good intentions, would just steamroll right over people.
Even though Norman Lear is a 100% liberal, he also realized how naive some liberals could be (like Mike Stivic’s character) and the fact that Archie did have some reason to be as cynical as he was (at least in certain circumstances), whereas Mike had never lived in the real world and didn’t realize why Archie held some of the views that he did. He never once tried to at least see the world through Archie’s eyes, at least not until the episode (from the eighth season) when they got locked in Archie’s bar’s storage room and Archie opened up about his childhood. Coming from a family, where my grandfather was alot like Archie Bunker (and therefore liked his character), I could understand why my grandfather had some of the views he had, even if I didn’t agree with alot of them. Archie (as well as my grandfather) grew up in a much different world and it really must have seemed like another planet when all of a sudden kids started growing their hair long, taking drugs, dressing funny, protesting against their government, listening to loud rock music, “shacking up” together…not to mention blacks and women suddenly marching for their rights. We forget how crazy a time it was to live in during the late 60s-early 70s. And how much things changed from the time JFK got killed to the time the Vietnam War ended. 200 years might as well have gone by, with the amount of changes that had taken place during that period. America was a much different place by 1975.          
Anyhow, I think that is what makes these shows so good after all these years and still subversive…Lear didn’t just try to preach to you what he thought….he gave you both sides of the argument and showed you that both sides had their points, as well as their shortcomings.
Also, even though Norman Lear never intended for Archie Bunker’s character to be at all likable, the fact that he did have some good qualities to him and did once in awhile make a good point (almost in spite of himself) made his character that much more believable. If Lear had made him simply a rotten guy (as he thought he was doing) with no redeeming qualities, he would have come across as a one-dimensional caricature. And the show would not have held up all these years as well as it has. Unfortunately though, there were many people in this country who looked at Archie as being “one of them.”

Carroll O’Connor, though, is a huge reason why Archie Bunker was as memorable of a character as he was. O’Connor may have also been a diehard liberal in real life, but he clearly understood Archie’s character and knew how to play him in a very believable way. He didn’t even appear to be acting at times, but more like channeling this character. The same with Jean Stapleton’s portrayal of Edith.

Watching some of these early 70s episodes again (as well as one of Lear’s other great shows from that period, Good Times), you realize how little things have changed in this country. An endless, immoral war going on, high inflation, a recession, a corrupt, paranoid government, poverty, racism, violent crime…you name it. Just change the names and places and you realize it’s exactly the same in alot of ways. Many episodes of these shows, unfortunately, are still just as relevant.  

It just proves that old cliché: the more things change, the more they stay the same. 

Watching these shows again just reinforces my opinion that Norman Lear was probably the best thing that ever happened to television – especially when you think about all the gimmicky, moronic comedies that were on the air right before All in the Family came along and changed things forever. And with all the mindless garbage on TV these days (moronic comedies, braindead “reality” shows), we could use a guy like Norman Lear again.

Norman, please call home.  


Jay Mucci 

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