Here’s a trivia question: Which of the characters on The Andy Griffith Show were married?
For those of us old enough to remember the sitcom, we recall the lead character — Andy Taylor — was single as was his Aunt Bee and, of course, Andy’s son, Opie.
Barney Fife was single as were Goober and Gomer Pyle. Floyd the barber, Andy’s girlfriend Helen, and Thelma Lou were unmarried as I recall. Aunt Bee’s best friend, Clara, was a widow.
The only recurring character who was married was Otis the drunk. Otis would stumble into the Mayberry jail and lock himself in.
Granted, I’ve not watched every episode and may have missed someone.
What’s more everyone who lived in Mayberry was white. Considering the population of North Carolina was over 20 percent black in the 1960s, that bit of trivia contrasts with reality. Then, again, it was fiction.
A third oddity about Mayberry is that virtually everyone in town drove a Ford.
Were there conspiracies afloat? Were the producers of the show intentionally demeaning the institution of marriage by consigning it exclusively to the town drunk?
Were the producers white supremacists? Did they have a pathological prejudice against blacks? After all, Mayberry enthusiasts know that the sheriff’s full name was Andrew Jackson Taylor. Gasp!
And what about the proliferation of Fords along the streets of Mayberry? Were anti-Chevy bigots lurking in the back office at the show’s production company?
I suspect there was only one true conspiracy.
The characters were single because the ongoing romances added to the show. The homogeneous population was a reflection of the times when virtually all television productions featured predominantly white casts.
The proclivity for Fords, however, was a full-blown conspiracy. In fact, those who actually bothered to read the closing credits will note the inclusion of this phrase: “Automobiles furnished by… Ford Motor Company.”
It’s called product placement. It’s a form of implicit advertising in which a company may pay to have their product prominently featured in a film or television program. No one actually touts the product. That would constitute explicit advertising.
Implicit marketing transcends the promotion of products. It also includes ideas and philosophies. Viewers are unaware their minds are incorporating the sounds and images.
And that, my friends, is why I refer to television as the brain-washing machine.
Beginning with the “rural purge” of the late 1960s and early 1970s, television programming included subtle but significant images and scripts that gently nudged our thinking towards the political left.
The Norman Lear era produced sitcoms that belittled the traditional family, portrayed white men as bumbling idiots, and implicitly hawked leftists ideals from feminism to anti-war sentiments.
In more recent years we witnessed the inclusion of homosexuals in virtually every sitcom. The implicit message is that gayness is normal and to be accepted. The ideal woman is presented as the bossish corporate executive while stay-at-home moms are virtually nonexistent.
The Jim Gaffigan Show on the TV Land cable network is a quintessential example of the implicit marketing of ideologies. The show includes the mandatory homosexual as a recurring character and Gaffigan’s Catholic priest is a native of Zimbabwe. The implicit message is that homosexuality should be considered normal and that the brutal atrocities committed by the Marxist government in Zimbabwe are to be overlooked as inconsequential.
Gaffigan’s show is followed by another original production, Impastor, a comedy in which the lead character is a criminal posing as both a pastor and a homosexual.
What messages are they implying?
Meanwhile, TV Land canceled reruns of the popular Dukes of Hazzard program because some viewers found the presence of the Confederate flag atop a Dodge Charger to be offensive.
The messages they embed in our minds are implicit, but powerful.