Norman Lear, creator of the controversial show “All in the Family,” calls Donald Trump the “middle finger of right hand America.” Lear has enjoyed a long career in television and film and is a well-known political and social activist and philanthropist. He used comedy to share the political saga of the 1970s and as a tool to influence future generations. Through multiple sitcoms, Lear’s writing shined a bright light on political issues in the days of former President Nixon.
Many who remember the sitcom said those who voted for President Trump, the White working-class, are sort of Archie Bunker types. As the lead cast member of “All in the Family,” Bunker, portrayed by Carroll O’Conner, was a bigot who constantly squabbled with his family over the important issues of the day. He was a working-class family man who unwaveringly held high his views of the world and clashed with nearly everyone he encountered, especially his son-in-law Mike Stivic.
Lear successfully made humor out of the most controversial, disturbing and serious issues of the day while making viewers laugh. When asked how he managed to do that, he said:
This was a family wrestling with those issues, just as many families across the country are wrestling with them today.
When Trump first came about, before he was president and it seemed like it might be possible, I felt like he represented the middle finger of the American right hand. The American people were looking at the leadership they had for so many years and no matter where you find American leadership there are those who do not give a ‘F***’ about people and are just in it to profit. We have lost our way as human beings in terms of leadership. And all these months later, he is still the middle finger of right hand America and has no leadership.
In the 70s when “All in the Family” was just getting started, no one thought racism or homophobia could be funny, especially on a network television show. Much like today, Americans at that time hated and were extremely defiant of Nixon. Archie’s character came out of all of the mixed feelings that many had while dealing with many disparities and the vague notion of finding unity in diversity.
The beloved sitcom maintained an audience of nearly 60 million viewers and Lear did not receive much kickback for the content until recently. As the show resurfaced due to reruns, a tiny fracture of people started “protesting” the satirical content. In that day, the issues discussed and often debated on the show were all things people were saying in their homes. The conversations were taking place, but behind closed doors. “All in the Family” just gave them a national platform.
Archie said horrible things on air and Lear felt it was important to highlight these issues and the overarching racist and bigotry attitudes that infiltrated the country. Even today shows like “Saturday Night Live,” “Real Time With Bill Maher,” “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah,” and the newest comedy to hit Comedy Central, “The President” are all shows that talk candidly about President Trump and current issues.
Trump has voiced his disdain for these types of shows and said no president has ever had to deal with such disrespect. Perhaps, he never watched any of Lear’s shows. One can only image the content that his shows would contain in the 21st century. Today, when speaking of today’s leader, the 94-year-old unashamedly called Trump the middle finger of right America. Lear added:
Today there is no reason to cheer our leadership, instead people have reason to make fun of him. The country needs a father in the White House; age has nothing to do with it, just be the father the American people are looking for.
Lear spent decades telling his life stories and highlighting civil unrest through tales from his popular sitcoms such as “Good Times,” “Maude,” “The Jeffersons,” and of course, “All in the Family.” He no longer writes comedy to air on television screens across the globe, but when given the opportunity Lear does not shy away from sharing his truth. Even if it means calling President Trump the middle finger of right hand America.
By Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
The Nation: Norman Lear: Donald Trump Is the Middle Finger of the American Right Hand
IMDb: All in the Family
New York Times: Those Were the Days, Not Simple or All Sweet
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