Inspired by this thread, it was a response to The Day After, and I believe the producers had to invoke the Fairness Doctrine to get it on network TV. The miniseries showed the effects of not participating in a nuclear arms race: Soviet takeover, and Robert Urich. It ranged form bad to laughable, generally.
I remember the “resistance” acting pretty much exactly like WWII Partisans, because of course the indomitable American spirit will out. Robert Urich played a bureaucrat whose son called poor people “proles,” although what thath was supposed to say about the kid I don’t know. And the underground club where all the kids went to listen to rebellious rock’n’roll was actually being run by the Soviets, because apparently rock is the music of hippies, and hippies are all leftists, and that meant they take orders from Moscow.
It really was, I think, the last gasp of that kind of ham-handed, brushcut and button-down shirt type of right-wing propaganda. I think PJ O’Rourke was just getting popular as a “cool” conservative. It was really silly, but it’s an interesting artifact from artifact the end of the cold war
It was pretty bad, but I remember one truly powerful moment: Kris Kristofferson gets on some sort of dais and recites the Pledge of Allegiance. And then he recites it again. And again.
As someone growing up having to say the damn thing every morning in school, you simply skimmed over the words and intent because it had become meaningless rote. But in the context of the scene, the words and their significance really resonated dramatically in a way I never would have suspected. A surprisingly effective, and rather risky, decision to use it like that.
Agreed. Remember that Red Dawn was a surprise theatrical success just a few years earlier, so it wasn’t too surprising to see variations of Cold War Paranoia/Commie Takeover plots emerge. This one was obviously meant to be a little more thoughtful version of an Alternate History style film (less action, more talking); it just wasn’t too successful at it.
I remember the appeals to the Fairness Doctrine in Insight Magazine. It wasn’t a legal appeal, it was invoking the spirit of the doctrine, which was gutted a year after the miniseries was conceived. Conservatives would later insist that the project was being supressed because of its politics, rather than its length and quality.
Right. The series was conceived in 1983. The Fairness Doctrine was gutted in 1984.
I believe the argument was that the Hollywood liberals were passing off thinly veiled propaganda as fiction. They weren’t entirely wrongabout that, either. I remember an episode of Quincy from 1980 or 1981, where an entire segment was devoted to a woman talking about DWI laws, and the changes that were necessary. Quincy responds by offering canned questions that are supposed to anticipate the viewers’ objections. Just before the commercial break, the woman winds up actually declaring that a certain piece of legislation must be passed.
I’m not following you. Was this scene powerful because his reciting of the pledge of allegiance was a rebellion against the communists, and thus an affirmation of the pledge as pro-freedom? Or was his reciting of the pledge something the communist authorities approved of, and thus Orwellian and anti-pledge?
It was an act of defiance against the communists, and because everyone knew the pledge, his fellow citizens could join in the recitation, standing as one together against TPTB. It also was powerful because it took something often seen as mundane and recontextualized it into something quite moving–since you often don’t appreciate the little things (the banality of a “pledge”) until you lose it, wherein it is fueled with additional importance.
The left bans drunk driving because it hurts people; the right bans drinking altogether because God Wills It or it violates Family Values or is Immoral. And because there’s the risk of drinking making somebody happy. “Puritanism is the lurking fear that someone, somewhere is somehow enjoying himself”, or however the quote goes.
Sorry, I don’t have one. I read about it 20 years ago.
Whether you agree with the law or not, it was being promoted in what was essentially an editorial message being read by two actors in the middle of a primetime drama. The dialogue between the two of them covered enforcement mechanisms and revenue-neutral funding schemes. Then it ended with '“The X and Y* Law” must be passed!’
*I don’t remember the actual name of the law.
I thought that the Robert Urich character was interesting, although not 14 hours interesting. He was supposed to be the conscientious collaborator, and he had a really conservative speech where he basically takes his own people to task for expressing their patriotism. It was something like, “Where were you when the country was going to hell, if you’re so patriotic?”