I can remember life without a television in the home. Can you? I can remember when colour TV was a big deal. I can remember when damn near every adult smoked cigarettes, except my Grandma, Mom and my Aunt Opal, but she had asthma pretty bad. I never for a moment thought that the Television Age and the Cigarette Age were related, until I learned, almost half a century later, that the tobacco companies all but dictated the content of what we watched.
We were all amazed! Those TV characters were real for me. I willingly suspended disbelief. Marshall Dillon, Uncle Miltie, Barney Fife, Frank Ballenger (the name of Lee Marvin’s character on M Squad), Lucy, even The Kingfish ( Yes, I watched Amos N’ Andy) were all real to me.
In the cities, before TV, people went to the movies almost every week. Then came The War, with all its intensity. And, at its end, people wanted to get on with life, find work, a career, if you will, have babies, and enjoy the benefits of living in an affluent society . Science and technology were our servants. They gave us jet engines, air conditioning, polio vaccines, television, and well , uh, the atomic bomb. But we didn’t really talk about that. We all assumed that Truman, Ike, JFK, knew what they were doing and all would be well.
Yes, we were spoiled. As children we had everything handed to us, no strings attached. We never thought to question what was offered, Popsicles, Kool-Aid, Twinkies, Wonder Bread. Morton’s Chicken Pot Pies. Swanson’s TV Dinners,. Then Budweiser, Marlboros, pot, and for you Ladies out there, The Pill.
Right after the JFK Assassination, we started hearing about Consequences. The Surgeon General’s Report On Smoking And Health came out. You mean Winstons and Salems were bad for you? Who knew?(The companies that made them knew, we learned later. They just didn’t tell the public).
Then came the Warren Report. People started saying that that was a lie too. Took a while to take the Mark Lanes and Jim Garrisons seriously, but now nobody believes the Warren Report is true.
We’re spoiled. Pictures don’t lie. And TV gives us plenty of pictures, so we don’t have to think. Computers do that for us now. We can just follow whatever dream we have, whether it’s a trip to Mars or living on a sustainable planet, (whatever that is.)
So if the Communist Party of the Peoples ’ Republic of China says the Wuhan Virus came from a wet market there, who are we to doubt them?