A media icon, how might he have treated humorously the misidentification of antisemitism with antizionism represented by H.R. 894.
Writer-producer-developer Norman Lear, who revolutionized American comedy with such daring, immensely popular early-‘70s sitcoms as “All in the Family” and “Sanford and Son,” died on Tuesday. He was 101.
Lear’s publicist confirmed to Variety that he died at his home in Los Angeles of natural causes. A private service for immediate family will be held in the coming days.
“Thank you for the moving outpouring of love and support in honor of our wonderful husband, father, and grandfather,” Lear’s family said in a statement. “Norman lived a life of creativity, tenacity, and empathy. He deeply loved our country and spent a lifetime helping to preserve its founding ideals of justice and equality for all. Knowing and loving him has been the greatest of gifts. We ask for your understanding as we mourn privately in celebration of this remarkable human being.”
Lear had already established himself as a top comedy writer and captured a 1968 Oscar nomination for his screenplay for “Divorce American Style” when he concocted the idea for a new sitcom, based on a popular British show, about a conservative, outspokenly bigoted working-class man and his fractious Queens family. “All in the Family” became an immediate hit, seemingly with viewers of all political persuasions.
My appreciation of Norman Lear’s cultural work will be drowned out by the numerous posthumous tributes, but he did provide a range of television programming that led to some cultural tropes which also subverted dominant images of privilege. He provided a social critique that repositioned the caricature of a reactionary white working class against the class positions of so many other intersectional figures. The only violence he represented in his cultural products was a symbolic violence that became the standard for American media discourse.
Sadly the same textual microaggressions revealed in his overturning a sit-com medium also became commodified by politicians, leaving us with our current state of “acceptable dictatorship” and overt racism represented by Previous Guy, another reactionary from Queens. The golfer’s baseball cap has now become the fetish object for a generation of reactionaries wanting to “own the libs”.
For example, the transgressive headwear meant to protect men’s balding combovers is no different than how some interwar politicians thought authoritarian rulers could be controlled within a democratic republic.
The 2016 Trump was thought to be a Dekorationsstück, a figurehead who could be a King Cyrus for evangelicals that wasn’t an anti-abortionist. Norman Lear gave us TV sit-com characters who could have an acceptable abortion while a concurrent, dissonant media figure like Trump could have an alleged history of abortions and this coming year be close to becoming dictator for life. All In The Family at Xmas time has become ‘all in the fascist family’.
When social labor is split up into independent enterprises and organized capitalistically, its products take the form of an ensemble of commodities of diverse types, which face one another on the market.