Disclaiming Cultural Depictions

So, I flipped on the TV this morning saw something that I had noticed before, on other stations. What surprised me was that this channel was TVLand, you know, the channel that plays all of those long-ago TV shows from another time? This was the top of the hour and what caught me was this disclaimer:

This program contains outdated cultural depictions.

The program? Bonanza. You know, the family western that was on television from 1959-1973. It was a (Sunday night, I think) staple of our TV watching when I was a kid.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised nowadays. People are apologizing just for existing so a disclaimer for a TV show that went off air 48 years ago shouldn’t surprise me. But TVLand? Isn’t that their bread-and butter, long ago TV shows? Why would anyone, knowing the type of programming require any such disclaimer? Of course, Bonanza, a western where, when people were shot, there was never any indication of any injury at all, must be bad because, when I think about it, I was about a white family. Of men ( a father and 3 sons originally) with mostly white guest stars. There were no black or brown regulars that I can recall.

So, a western TV show about a fictional (wealthy) family, must be disclaimed for it’s ”outdated cultural depictions”. Which are? I think when a channel makes that claim, they should tell it’s audience which cultural depictions are outdated so that we may be better informed and given the opportunity to change the channel before our cultural mores are offended.

Maybe there should be disclaimers for all TV shows (and movies), even current ones. For instance, a series I refer to as ”NCIS: Depopulating Los Angeles” should there not be a disclaimer to the effect that NCIS ( a real organization) does not commit mass murder on a weekly basis ( watch the show for a week and keep a body count). There are other cop shows (Chicago PD) where if there are several people killed in an episode, the ratings probably go down. The ”Voight” character, they’ve had to make more sensitive I believe because, seriously, this guy, a cop, was a serial killer in the early years of the show, wasn’t he?

Any and all of the comedies might disclaim that the producers are not making any specific judgements based on any of the characters’ race, gender, etc., or that all families of a type as depicted are not dysfunctional.

I could go on and on about being sensitive. Remember after 9/11/2001 TV shows that had scense of the New York Cirty skyline that showed the World Trade Center towers, were magically edited (photoshopped?) so that those towers did not appear even if the area where they stood was. No longer. That I can tell, anyway.

If we’re going to be sensitive towards these old TV shows , maybe we should take a look at the current fare as well so that a future generation might not be offended by the cultural depredations we will eventually heap upon them.

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