Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Archie Bunker - The Hero

We have been the slow recipients of positive visibility. Looking back there have been positive portrayals that have provided baby steps, evacuating us from the closet - Escapes. Some were serious entertainment and some for humor as the Three Stooges post from a few months ago. All of which has led the public to a general awareness of a something we now describe as being transgender.

Lori Shannon - Finocchio's Club Entertainer 
The television sitcom “All in the Family” (1971-1979) had just such a moment of humor at our expense in 1975. Although the episode touched many stereotypes it was funny and took us one step further into the world of visibility – an avenue to acceptance.  

Producer Norman Lear describes the Archie Bunker character this way:

Archie is a lovable bigot (loosely based on Norman Lear's father).
Most bigots are human. They are usually portrayed as one-dimensional bigots whom you are supposed to hate. People are more complicated than that. Most people are bigots because of fear, of apprehension, not because of hate. They hate what’s different. There’s a little bit of Archie Bunker in all of us somewhere. If anyone is not like Archie, they can recognize in him someone they know who is, even though most won’t admit it.

Archie helps us all laugh at misanthropic bigotry and its absurdity. Blacks, Hispanics, commies, gays, hippies, Jews, Catholics, women's libbers, and the Polish were all skewered by Archie. And yes, we had our turn. 

The 1975 segment featured a character called Beverly LaSalle playing a drag entertainer.  Her life was saved by Archie after he performed CPR when she passed out in his taxicab. In the episode, Beverly was played by an actual female impersonator and actor, Lori Shannon. Beverly appeared in a total of three episodes (seasons 6-8) and the character, Beverly became Archie's and Edith's friend.   

Here is a YouTube segment from "Archie the Hero" (Season 6).

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