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More on Histeria's Conservative Bent

Has anyone who defends Histeria actually watched several episodes? Every episode I see confirms my analysis of the Legion of Super-Writers episode. Far from making fun of "everything," this show is a blatant defender of entrenched interests, a purveyor of traditional values.

Consider: In an episode on Watergate, Histeria shows Nixon playing a tape that proved his innocence. He got in trouble only because Histeria's kids erased the tape. The show said Nixon resigned "in disgrace," but didn't present anything disgraceful except his temper. He denied wrongdoing and the show didn't offer one shred of evidence that he did something wrong.

It also referred twice to "pinkos" and "liberals," as if they were synonymous. One can argue that reflected Nixon's views, though it was the narrator Miss Information who linked the terms twice. But where's the opposing voice calling Nixon and his cohorts traitors, fascists, or hypocrites? Nowhere, that's where.

Another episode portrayed D-Day as exciting, fun, an adventure. It showed the Allied and German troops converging, but said nothing about the death and horror that followed. Instead, it switched to such laff riots as General Eisenhower's bald head. Message: Wars, especially American wars, are a grand and glorious enterprise.

I also saw part of the episode in which Teddy Roosevelt pushed through the Panama Canal. Although he was bedeviled by problems such as mosquitos, there was no mention of America's imperialist attitude. No hint that we forced the Canal's construction on the Panamanian residents. The episode echoed the conventional belief that building something is inherently noble, no matter what gets in the way or disagrees.

You could argue that this was just one take on scandal, on war, on imperialism. That they're all exceptions, meaningless by themselves, indicative of nothing. If so, you're ignoring the underlying patterns. "Strange" people such as the mentally ill, the Japanese, and lesbians get stereotyped. Nixon's only crime was a foul temper and machinations by bleeding-heart liberals. War is a big game where good defeats evil without anyone's getting hurt. Building the Panama Canal was our Manifest Destiny, our divine right.

All these positions support the conventional, conservative, WASP-dominated status quo. Whether Histeria's creators realize it or not, the effect is to sanitize American and world history. Will you learn anything here about the evils perpetuated by white male governments, businesses, and members of the elite—the military-industrial complex noted by the egg-headed Eisenhower? I doubt it.

If you want art that truly criticizes everything, listen to the comedy of Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce, or Richard Pryor. Or the music of Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan, or John Lennon. For the toddlers among you who don't know who these people are, watch Saturday Night Live reruns and listen to Chris Rock or Public Enemy.

These people have truly attacked sacred cows and golden idols. Their goals were and are to make you feel uncomfortable, not to get cheap laughs. Compared to their attacks, Histeria is an obvious apology for the status quo.


P.S. Recommended reading: Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen. When you see some of these stories on Histeria—for instance, how our government lied about Vietnam to justify escalating the war—be sure to let me know. I'm betting you won't see them anytime soon.

Related links
Rob's comments on Histeria's Legion of Super-Writers episode
Pocahontas II supports Eurocentric history
"It's just a [fill in the blank]"
Equal opportunity offenders

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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

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