August 4, 2012


All in the Family… The Jefferson’s…  Sanford and Son…

Here in Taiwan, when I moved here 10+ years ago, there were about 15 English television channels.  Only a couple did not put Chinese subtitles, but that didn’t matter.  Just the fact that there was a choice of television programs available, in my language, made things a little easier.  Hearing Chinese spoken all day, barely being able to say anything to the locals, was difficult.  Once I got home, turned on the television, and was able to watch a couple of programs in English, was a relief some nights.

Over the years though, the cable providers have taken away many of the English language stations.  What that has meant, is there are a lot more news channels, silly talk shows and game shows and programming from Japan.  The reason given is that ‘… no one watches English television…’.  I can’t speak for all the foreign English teachers in Taiwan, but I’m sure most of us enjoy watching television in our mother tongue.

Over the last couple of years, I have discovered, as I’ve mentioned before, a website called ‘justin.tv’.  The programming presented may not be live from the television stations, but the fact that there are programs available in English, has left me practically oblivious to the fact that I have a huge flat screen T.V.

When I’m doing up my lesson planning or printing or other office work, and yes, even when I’m painting the apartment, I use the computer to watch television while I’m working.

The programs that are ‘aired’, are uploaded by users worldwide.  That means that there are programs from all over the world.  Since America has many computer junkies, there are lots of programs aired from the States.  I’ve been able to watch programs like Star Trek (all versions), Golden Girls, Scrubs, House, and lately, All in the Family, The Jeffersons, and Sanford and Son.

It hasn’t been just years, but decades since I’ve watched some of these programs.  It’s also interesting to see (or hear) these programs and actors after such a long time.  A program like All in the Family, wouldn’t even be produced in today’s world, at least not in North America.  For that matter, neither would The Jeffersons.  But these were funny programs a few decades ago.  I must say, at times, I still laugh at some of the off-colour humour.  I know it’s not ‘politically correct’, but I also have to keep in mind, these programs were created/produced a long time ago.

The other thing I really like about watching programs on ‘justin.tv’, besides the nostalgic aspect, is that they are aired without commercials.  Not that it wouldn’t be fun to see some of the commercials that originally aired with these programs, but it’s nice to see shows presented commercial-free.

I’m also surprised at times, at how much I’ve actually forgotten.  Take All in the Family for instance.  I remember the characters:  Archie and Edith Bunker, Gloria and Michael, George and Louise, and the various other characters as they appear, but when it comes to actual episodes, they all seem new to me.  And again, some of the comments are hilarious.  In some cases, perhaps they didn’t really mean anything to me back when the shows originally aired, but hearing them now, I understand the humour (i.e.  “He ran up the street like a chicken with the colonel after him…”;  “You said the suspect was caucasian?”  “No, I said he was white.”;  “When you’ve got this much green in your pocket, black is their favourite colour.”)

I’m sure today, if someone were to make comments like these, they would not be taken too well – by anyone!  We, at least in North America, have tried to put prejudice aside, and try to treat everyone as equals.  That is not so for some societies.  In some countries, and it is still common knowledge, women or people of other races, are still treated as second-class citizens.

I like to pride myself on the fact that, even though I may find some of these programs from years back a bit on the humorous side, I treat others, as I want to be treated.  I understand these were different times, and even though humour was a bit off compared to today, it did help to bring about changes in respect towards others.

It’s unfortunate though, that even in North America, we still have people who treat others without respect to the fact that they are people.  However, it is also nice to see over the years, that things have changed for the better.  Society in North America has recognized women as persons.  We have recognized people who have become citizens of our country, actually have rights as citizens.  We’ve even recognized that sexual orientation is not an issue when dealing with people as people.

Who knows?  Perhaps there is hope for the world.  Watching a program like Star Trek, where the future shows that people are treated the same, and yes, even beings of other worlds being given the same rights as anyone else, shows us that there is a hope for everyone as an individual regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or even world they may come from.

Once we accept the fact that, it is virtually impossible and very egotistical to think that we are the only conscious beings in all the galaxy, that may be the time that equally will actually mean something.

In the meantime, even though we may feel that programs like All in the Family and The Jeffersons are a bit behind the times, so-to-speak, at least they brought about thinking and treating everyone equally.

That’s it, that’s all… for now!

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