Monday, May 19, 2008

Archie Bunker Still Lives on in the American Psyche

Edith tells Archie and Mike how certain names fit so well with the occupation..."Like God", she says.

Mike responds, "That is because we grew up using the word "God"... that the word "chair" could just as easily be substituted, and if that were the case, Americans would go to church to worship chair.” He then pointed out the Chinese use the word, "Buddha" to represent God...

Edith: "I wonder if the Chinese say “Buddha bless you” when some one sneezes."

Archie: "The Chinks sneeze and don’t say nothin’. They don’t speak English."

Mike: "Why can’t they say, “Buddha bless you” in Chinese?"

Archie Bunker: "Because they don't say that, that's why. If they say... Well, if they say anything at all, it's "Sayonara".

Mike Stivic: "That's Japanese".

Archie Bunker: "Same thing".

Mike Stivic: "It's not the same thing!"

Archie Bunker: "What are you talking about? You put a Jap and a Chink together, you gonna tell me which is which?"

Mike Stivic: That's right, because I find out about them. I talk to them as individuals.

Archie Bunker: "Sure you talk to them. You say, Which one of you guys is the Chink?"

Mike Stivic: [yells] "I don't believe this. He's making me crazy!
"Archie Bunker", the lovable, in-your-face bigot, provided Americans with a huge mirror back in the early 1970's, making it hard for anyone watching to deny they were looking at themselves or at the very least, someone they knew. Caroll O'Connor's embodiment combined with Norman Lear's talent and sense of humor not only allowed "Archie Bunker" to survive the Nielson's, but made him a legend and a character that will live on in American history.
"I got a lot goin' against me. I'm white, a Protestant and a hard worker. You got an amendment for me?" - Archie Bunker
Archie Bunker articulates what so many of us think or feel without recognizing, as white Americans, the Constitution, the laws and societal code were all created by us and for us. "White privilege"is something we were born with and it cannot be taken away.

Relegated to our subconscious, Archie is just as relevant today as he was over 30 years ago. The exchange I posted at the beginning, between Archie, Edith, and Mike humorously presents
We, the people's default assumption that it’s all about us. It's very hard to assume otherwise when you live in the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world, and the truth is, "it" has been all about us, especially since WWII. The United States is to the world what Hollywood is to the United States and like Hollywood, we are somewhat of an illusion and "all that glitters is not gold".

It's more important now than ever to keep an eye on the "Archie Bunker" that exists in all of us.
The only way to overcome the Archie that resides in all of us is to make sure Edith, Mike and Gloria dwell as well.

1 comments:

Anonymous,  13:12  

We have come a long way but have a long way to go and because racism is not so apparent the next step will take much longer. It's hard to fight something we can't see or admit exists.

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