From Andy Warhol to Flower Children, time has progressed and most of the real, tangible, and iconic elements of the 1960s are long gone. However, there were many elements of the 1960s that were purely fictitious in nature, and due to their unreality, they endure as symbols of the era. One such symbol of the 1960s is the fictional starship USS Enterprise as seen in the Star Trek television show. The radical design of the ship and its importance to the program lent an aura of power and nigh-invincibility to the vessel, one that garnered the attention of Americans from “Joe and Jane Average” to actual rocket scientists at NASA. We are now 50 years past America’s introduction to Star Trek and the Enterprise, so the question of the ship’s relevance in popular culture arises. In short, to the general public of today, is the name USS Enterprise still one that invokes an iconic image?
Part Two: The Impact of Game Shows and the Modern Age
In part one of this essay we explored the impossibly pure imagery television initially presented to viewers, images that reflected the mores of a bygone America. We reviewed the impact on our culture presented by the popularization of color television and how seeing real conflict and tragedy in color shocked the sensibilities of our unprepared nation, and how that shock was expressed through several cutting edge (or “bleeding edge”) television shows beginning in the early 1970s. Finally, we explored how the landscape of television was affected by cable television, and how it continued to change to the point where it was showcasing the lack of restrictions imposed on it and the lack of self-restraint that was becoming prevalent in our nation throughout the 1990s.
Part One: The Sanitized Era and the Beginnings of Reality
Television was once the conveyor of virginal imagery, the bringer of the Norman Rockwell version of America as beamed to homes from coast-to-coast by the Gods of Television on a daily basis. During these days long past there was a security in television that’s all but extinct today. Censors and sponsors combined to make TV a sterile landscape devoid of most forms of offensive behavior, sexual innuendos, and expressions of thought contrary to the perceived norms of American society. Those were the days when “men were men and women were women,” when homosexuality was ignored, and when heterosexuality was limited to platonic hugs and closed-mouth kisses. War was a bloodless display of valor and manliness according to shows such as The Rat Patrol and Combat, while the American West was a place of brave, noble men who tamed fierce savages and felled outlaws with equally bloodless gunshots as evidenced by shows such as Bonanza and Gunsmoke. Women were seen as aspirants to domestic perfection, embodied by such fictional pre-Martha Stewart domestic divas as June Cleaver in Leave it to Beaver and Margaret Anderson in Father Knows Best. As to displays or the mere mentioning of the sex act, it was avoided at all costs even if it meant depicting a boudoir as surreal as the one containing the separate beds of Lucy and Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy, or as unseen as Ralph and Alice Kramden’s bedroom on The Honeymooners. Such is how it was prior to January 29th, 1968–the date of the Viet Cong’s bloody Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War–as television was, to that date, used as the great sanitizer of American life. Afterwards, it was a whole new ballgame.
Most of us have a favorite Godzilla movie from Japan, but did you know that there is more than one Godzilla? Yes, it’s true. Take a seat and let’s fly through the many iterations of Japan’s most famous movie monster.
In Japan, the term “Godzilla” is applied on-film to creatures that are of the same family as first seen in the original 1954 Godzilla movie. In fact, the name “Godzilla” is itself a Westernized version of the Japanese word “Gojira,” the name by which the monster is known in Japan. Regardless of the name, the original Big-G bites the dust at the end of the movie, so moviegoers were surprised when the monster appeared the following year in Godzilla Raids Again. An explained within the film, the two Godzillas are not the same creature, meaning that the second Godzilla (from Godzilla Raids Again) would be the Godzilla going forward on film until stated otherwise.
I am proud to announce that I have resumed blogging!
My two newest entries are in my social & political blog, “Uncommon Comments“. There, I address recent issues such as black youth, the deaths of an Australian baseball player and a WWII veteran, and why black Americans need to regain the moral high ground. The post is called “Back to the High Ground“. I hope you find it interesting enough to provide comments about it. The other entry is also socio-political in nature, meaning that “Uncommon Comments” is its home as well. This newer entry discusses the terrorist attacks of September 11th and how we Americans had (and wasted) an opportunity to move this nation forward in united fashion. The entry is called “A Lesson We Never Took to Heart“. Please click on the link, read the text and let me know your thoughts when you’re done.
Next time the entries will be of a more personal nature, meaning this “Eccentric Entries” blog will grow again.
Thanks to all for sticking with me. Be well and don’t forget to write!
The steam-powered giant tarantula from “Wild Wild West” (1999)
Artemus Gordon: We have the element of surprise. What does Loveless have?
[They look down into a canyon]
Artemus Gordon: He has his own city.
[Loveless’ mechanical spider walks up over the edge of the cliff on which they are standing]
Capt. James West: He has an 80-foot tarantula.
Artemus Gordon: I was just coming to that.
New location, same eccentricity. Readers, I am so happy to now have this blog on WordPress.com. Why? Well, it is my belief that I can deliver a richer experience for my readers on this blogging platform. I encountered a number of limitations when using the utilities provided by this blog’s former host, and I found those limitations too … well … limiting. Stifling, actually. Happily, there is no more stifled creativity here, folks! It’s forward, ever forward, for this blog. Thanks for again coming along for the ride.