I FELT A GRAVE DISTURBANCE IN THE FORCE, AS IF MILLIONS OF SITCOMS SUDDENLY CRIED OUT IN TERROR AND WERE SUDDENLY SILENCED: The post-Pervnado era has made a lot of classic TV cringeworthy. Including:
It wasn’t just “M*A*S*H” — but the 1970s comedy was one of the worst offenders and one of the most influential shows of its era, Thompson says. It ran for 11 years, was a huge hit and the characters’ lecherous behavior “was really central to a lot of the comedy.”
Where many skeevy TV characters are portrayed as losers, the main protagonist on “M*A*S*H,” Alan Alda’s Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, was suave, funny and smart.
But he, and the other men, also terrorized Loretta Swit’s Houlihan — who they called “Hot Lips” — and other nurses with sleazy, handsy come-ons.
“If fictional characters could be exposed, I’m sure Hawkeye Pierce would be one of them, all those nurses would finally come forward and talk about all the things he did,” Thompson says.
As the show and times went on, Alda — a liberal and self-professed “feminist” — gained more influence, and both “M*A*S*H” and his character moved away from such sexist gags.
In his year-end round-up of “The 165 Greatest American Movies,” John Nolte of Big Hollywood warned Robert Altman’s original film version of M*A*S*H could never be made in today’s SJW environment:
Frank Burns (Robert Duvall) and Margaret “Hotlips” O’Houlihan (Sally Kellerman) are the insufferable Social Justice Warriors of their time — pious, smug, hypocritical, bossy snitches, forever sucking up to the Establishment. They are nothing less than stand-ins for today’s left as personified by the elite media. Cutting them down to size are Hawkeye (Donald Sutherland) and Trapper John (Elliott Gould), two characters whose fun-loving attitude in pursuit of personal freedom would be villainized onscreen today as sexist and racist (they are not), as cisgender white males in need of a stern lecture from Hot Lips, who would now be portrayed as the movie’s heroine — sorry, hero. Think I’m kidding? Read this.
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M*A*S*H gives us the heroes we most need today: men who love women, sex, booze, a good time; women and men who respect life and professionalism, despise war and conformity, and whose favorite sport is the most crucial of all — removing the steel rods stuck up the backsides of society’s joyless scolds and virtue signalers.
A decade after he adapted M*A*S*H for the small screen, veteran TV writer/producer Larry Gelbart was interviewed by fellow lefty Todd Gitlin for his book on the TV industry, Inside Prime Time:
Perry Lafferty, who had been at CBS with Wood and Silverman, said that if someone else had come to him with an idea for a show about American doctors in the Korean War, he would have said, “Never. Bad concept. Terrible. What are you talking about?” The show sold without a pilot.
Obviously M*A*S*H was launched on a wave of antiwar sentiment. “We wanted to say that war was futile,” Gelbart said, “to represent it as a failure on everybody’s part that people had to kill each other to make a point. We wanted to say that when you take people from home they do things they would never do. They drink. They whore. They steal. They become venal. They become asinine, in terms of power. They get the clap. They become alcoholics. They become rude. They become sweet. They become tender. They become loving. We tended to make war the enemy without really saying who was fighting.” Gelbart’s favorite line was when Klinger, under fire, said, “Damn Truman, damn Stalin, damn everybody.” M*A*S*H and its cast were so lovable, the American right never saw much payoff in blasting it for dangerous pacifist tendencies. “It was chic to be antiwar,” Gelbart says. “You couldn’t offend anybody.”
Well, that was the left in the 1970s, when they were having fun. And now that the sexual revolution has moved into its French Revolution phase, it’s impossible to not offend them. Which is why, as our first link illustrates, M*A*S*H isn’t the only 1970s sitcom that humorless SJW scolds want to toss down the memory hole. What will Nick at Nite and TV Land have left to show?