Lately, on television and print advertisements, as well as episodes of TV series, the casting of the roles or models has changed that some would believe radical or offensive. I believe it refreshing, and much more a reflection of the real world.
The first time I really noticed was on a “Cheerios” commercial. It shows a mixed racial child asking her Caucasian mother if Cheerios was really good for the heart. When her mother says yes, or something to that effect, the next scene you see is the little girl’s Afro-American father taking a nap on the couch and covered with Cheerios that had been poured all over his chest. He is awakened by the feeling, and calls out his wife’s name, presumably to find out what is going on. I remember feeling delighted, because it seemed to portray a little slice of the true America. If you stop and think about it, a black man marrying a white woman and fathering a child together would have resulted in a mob lynching or a tarring and feathering of the black man (the woman was always portrayed as a victim). Times have changed, albeit slowly (too slowly), but at least we are making progress. I am certain that there are people of both races who do not like the commercial, but I ,for one, am one who welcomes it!
Although in the past certain scenes of lesbian and gay women and men has been mostly restricted to “R” rated movies, since “Will and Grace,” however, you can view on television many instances of lesbian and gay relationships, or at the least some “propositioning “going on. When I was in college, as I was a part of the Fine Arts department, I was “propositioned” several times by young women who made certain assumptions of my sexual orientation because I was seldom seen with one man, unless he was known to be gay. Although I politely refused, affirming to them my status as “straight,” I was always flattered, because it was nice to know I was attractive to anyone – male or female. As a matter of fact, if I really enjoyed someone’s company, I never cared what he or she might be or call him/herself, therefore I became known as a first-class “fag hag,” and was often searched for in that capacity. BTW, I still am. Part of this might come from the fact that I have relatives who are unabashedly gay, and Christian, and deeply loved by me, as well as a special best female friend.
To quote the old worn-out axiom, “Some of my best friends are “gay,” or “black,” “Muslim,” “Hispanic,” or “Jewish,” whatever. So I am enjoying seeing some scenes, occasionally appearing, of what I believe is the “real world.” Women are seen in roles that have until recently been portrayed exclusively by men – and vice-versa! We are at last being portrayed in a more realistic fashion. Not enough, but at least more than before.
I am truly offended by both movies and television scenes and episodes that portray and condone promiscuity and indiscriminate sex as well as infidelity. There also appear to be more and more divorces among couples who never seem to explore the possibility of counseling and reconciliation. To me that is sad, even knowing that about 50 percent of married couples become divorced, leaving single mothers or dads struggling with dead-beat ex-spouses. On the other hand, there are now portrayals of single parents, both male and female, who seemingly against all odds manage to live well and raise their children in exemplary fashion. Also, except for the “Bill Cosby Show,” how often have you seen a family attending church or a worship service?
Remember when Lucy and Ricky slept in single beds? And even later, Rob (Dick van Dyke) and Laura (Mary Tyler Moore) also had twin beds in their bedrooms. I haven’t seen that particular quirk in a long time. In many of the old movies, neither man nor woman regardless of being husband and wife, got into bed without at least one foot on the floor at all times. I have often wondered what censors came up with that? Crazy! Women were seldom referred to as pregnant, but “in the family way,” or “expecting.” (What? A package in the mail, or a baby under a cabbage leaf?) Things are different now, as a matter of fact a rerun of an episode of “Frasier” told us that Niles had low sperm motility, and was going through all sorts of hoops to “speed up the little guys, for instance, wearing shorts instead of briefs, in order to let them “swing freely,” and in addition he wore some electric battery contraption which cooled his testicles, and showed one hysterical scene when it shorted out and sent poor Niles into paroxysms of shock. Also, hiding the real-life pregnancies of actors when it would not be appropriate for the television show, can sometimes be very funny – carrying large purses, standing behind furniture, or wearing excessively baggy clothes.
One more addition to today’s media. The portrayal of more men and women who are overweight, but still considered acceptable by their family, peers, and strangers. They are even thought beautiful, which of course they are. This is a relatively new “taboo” that is being broken, and I hope to see more and more of them. Imagine a 200+ pound woman being loved by a “standard sized” man, and getting happily married, with no expectation of change on either part. In the case of the morbidly obese, there are health issues involved, which change the slant a bit – especially on TV, i.e., “The Biggest Loser,” etc. But they are portrayed sympathetically without being tolerant of their weight for their own sake. I have some thin friends, who watch this show regularly, and will weep for these people. Interesting. There seems to be no ridicule but encouragement.
I know there are other things I’ve noticed on TV and in the movies and print ads, but this is plenty for now. Have you noticed the things I’ve mentioned, or perhaps other ones I haven’t? Let me know. Real-life portrayals of real people. . .why should it be new? There can perhaps never be enough. . .