Weasel Words

archie bunker
“Ya see, ya got yer Samoans, dey got da hard heads there.”

Reader dark-o writes in comments:

was he [Bobby Heenan] a racist? about the mexican jokes he made.

I don’t think he was a racist, it was just a bigoted buffoonish character. Society in general was a lot less PC in the 1980s — whether you think that is a good thing or not is another argument — and you could get away with a lot more on TV in 1988 [and prior] than you can in 2008. Everything on WWE TV is so sanitized now, which is why old Heenan clips are such an entertaining thing to go back and look at.

Another thing to consider is that cable TV had such a tiny share of the audience 20 years ago that a lot of people weren’t aware of WWF television shows. And that any concerted effort by self-righteous religious zealots and soccer moms to “clean up” TV was usually aimed at the broadcast networks, and not at the marginal shows that Bobby was featured on.

Archie Bunker [a character designed to explore ignorance] was way more racist than a couple of Tito Santana jokes [told by a character designed to piss people off]. I think that the atmosphere today would not allow a show like “All in the Family” to ever be greenlighted today on network television, even though the show clearly did not endorse racism but did the exact opposite and almost always showed Archie to be a loser and a moron. And by the same token, in WWE, you’re more likely to see out and out stereotypes promoted as positive attributes (like Cryme Tyme) than you are to see a heel character expressing heelish and subtly racist thoughts like Heenan, which actually takes some thought to dissect.

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