May. 15, 2016

The earth-shaking, groundbreaking world of Carol Burnett

TV has given us some really good shows and some real duds. I realize it depends on each individual’s entertainment preference, but let me offer an example: The show "Reba" was cancelled despite her willingness to tackle tough and relevant issues. She addressed the need for divorced parents to work together allowing broken homes to mend for the sake of the children. The script called for prayer in several episodes. The script addressed unanswered prayer revealing that sometimes unanswered prayer is the best answer for everyone involved. Even ol’ Van, silly old Van brought up the fact that God responds to us when we pray AND put forth effort.

Reba was cancelled. There are mixed messages about why the show was cancelled. Some say the actors grew weary. Others say society moved past the wholesomeness. I suspect the show “Reba” stopped making huge profits. Meanwhile, all the violent, scandalous, hateful, bathroom-humor shows keep going strong. Yet, we want to talk about how sinful the entertainment industry is and how dangerous their liberal views are when they stream into our homes.  Hello….demand sells.

One of my family’s favorite shows we watched together as I grew up was, "The Carol Burnett Show." Most people remember Carol for her silly antics and wild outfits, including the dress straight from the curtain rod in a "Gone with the Wind" skit. Some remember how much alike Carol and one of her co-stars, Vicki Lawrence, looked. They could pass for sisters or even a mother/daughter duo. Tim Conway was the first of his kind improvising his way while totally ignoring written scripts. It always resulted in funnier episodes and the joy of watching his fellow co-stars crack up never knowing what he would come up with next. Of course, we can’t forget Harvey Korman and his many talents or Lyle Waggoner with his masculine good looks. The Carol Burnett Show had it all. Even dancers…

The dancers are what burned the most profound memory in my brain. Carol Burnett was one of the first variety shows that allowed interracial dance pairs. If you are under 40 and reading this blog, you might be thinking, "Huh?" Yes. It’s true. Black and white people; white and Hispanic people; Asian and white people were never allowed to dance with one another in front of a camera. In fact, when I was a really small child, many actors "pasted" their faces as opposed to integrating a movie set with characters playing Native Americans in the cowboy and Indian movies.

I often wonder if Carol Burnett intended to make a groundbreaking, earth shaking social statement when they held auditions picking the best of the best only to discover talent trumps race. You wouldn’t know it according to the bible study circles or the pulpits on Sundays as this "new wave" began to surface. Commentaries in local newspapers wrote about the disgrace of a black man dancing with a white woman and vice-versa. Seriously. No kidding. I am not joking.

If we are really ready and willing to peel back the layers on our historical onion, the main outcries were based on fear and came from the most religious.  What if our sweet little white girl fell in love with a black boy? What would happen if races began to mix and mingle? What was to become of our sacred world? Whether we want to admit it or not, there was a stereotypical belief that black men would somehow violate white women. We were afraid. Well, some of us were afraid. I just enjoyed watching the dancers.

I can vividly remember words like, "sinful," and "deviate," and "sub-human," being used as we learned to cope with this cultural shift.

I know you are expecting me to roll out some really magical, mystical, factual, comfortable bible verse right now that sets the world straight and makes us feel safe. Guess what? There isn’t a bible verse that can make us feel safe. There is a God who has already provided safety from any harm within His arms and within His love.

Why do we, as human beings, refuse to rest in those arms? Together.