If things we did growing up were in error, how far can one go down that path before nothing is good we knew and did? The heroes and villains become less able to be distinguished one from the other as one grows older.
There is a point of view that the Boomers did it wrong, had the wrong icons, shut Gen X out of the jobs for so long and there is far more stick from Gen X to the Boomers than there is in reverse. I’ve read things from journos writing as Gen X and they were lacking in any sort of forgiveness or decency [and this is meant to be the tolerant generation] and I’ve read arrogant pieces by Boomers in reply, calling Gen Xers those who were still living on mum and dad when they were 30 and should go out and get jobs.
Of all the differences between people, that’s one of the silliest and yet, in looking at this series of What’s My Line episodes, one wonders in hindsight. For a start there are the positives. The host of that show, John Daly, was of the old school – well spoken, with a code of ethics, e.g. he’d not let the panel demand the guests be asked to perform their speciality, he referred to the panel as Mr Cerf or Miss Dorothy.
There was talk of his old-fashioned way being out of date, out of touch in the new Bob Dylan Times They Are A Changin’ Way. Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend a hand. People try to put us down, just because we get around.
Grace Slick, Janis Joplin, Patty Smith – dirty, unhygienic, shared needles, the mud of pop festivals and living en masse with rampant venereal disease. Free love meaning unable to commit to anyone, unable to delay gratification, the Me generation, wanting everything now, whereas the Silent Generation were essentially givers because there was a stricter hierarchy – younger people gave up seats for old, there was respect in the voice.
Yet that’s the product of two generations which went off to two wars and Vietnam followed it. So how good were the values of that generation? And Walter Cronkite, when you explore his life behind the scenes, was anything but the squeaky clean father of America.
And the screen idols – Hedy Lamarr [top left] who took credit for George Antheil’s co-invention with her, married a much older man for money and spent the rest of her time running from him, hiding in a brothel room and when a man “accidentally” came in, had sex with him just to stay incognito you understand – great values. And if her autobiography is fictional in parts, then why did she allow those things to be said?
There were one or two entertainment people with decent values, e.g. Perry Como:
One of the many factors in his success was Como’s insistence on his principles of good taste; if he considered something to be in bad or poor taste, it was not in the show or broadcast.
Yet that didn’t make the man a saint – the values made him pleasant to deal with but he was human like anyone:
His music director from 1948 – 1963, Mitchell Ayres, said, “Perry has a temper like everyone else. And he loses his temper at the normal things everyone else does. When we’re driving, for instance, and somebody cuts him off, he really lets the offender have it.”
Can you imagine this happening today?
It was also around this time that young Como lost his week’s wages in a dice game. Filled with shame, he locked himself in his room and did not come out until hunger got the better of him. He managed to tell his father what had happened to the money his family depended on. His father told him he was entitled to make a mistake and that he hoped his son would never do anything worse than this.
I cannot tell a lie, Pa, I did chop down that tree.
In 1929, the 17-year-old Como met Roselle Belline at a picnic on Chartiers Creek that attracted many young people from the Canonsburg area. Como, who attended the cookout with another girl, did not spot Roselle until everyone was around the campfire singing and the gathering was coming to a close. When it came Como’s turn to sing, he chose More Than You Know, with his eyes on Roselle for the entire song. The teenage sweethearts were married July 31, 1933. They raised three children, Ronnie, David, and Terri, with traditional, non-show-business values.
When Roselle died suddenly on August 12, 1998, at age 84, the couple had been married for 65 years.
Compare that to the Laurel Canyon lot, from Zappa to Leary and other lowlifes. Como:
Gone, however, were the cardigan sweaters which had been a staple of his weekly television shows, and which he had actually hated having to wear. Como now performed in a tuxedo, saying, “It shows respect for the audience.”
And guess what his politics were? Guess what the politics of the presenter of What’s Your Line were? The days of standards of public decency on television and in film and music.
Perry Como was a republican, wrote one Democratic Undergrounder. Yeah, said another, but that was when the Republican Party was a very different party to today.
I grew up always believing Joseph McCarthy to be the devil incarnate and he was certainly in excess castigating Hollywood to the extent he had to be reigned in in the end. Those were fascistic days too of the good ole boys, where rightwing was angry, violent and papered over a multitude of sins in an attempt to appear a God-fearing citizen of uprightness.
Harper Valley PTA.
Beginning in 1950, McCarthy became the most visible public figure to object to Communist infiltration of the United States government. A 1954 Gallup poll found that Joe McCarthy was the fourth on its list of most admired men. He is now considered an American hero by many, though liberals still seek to tarnish his name.
He was noted for claiming that there were large numbers of Communists and Soviet spies and sympathizers, engaged in a conspiracy to undermine the United States, inside the federal government. He was proven correct by government documents and inquiry, including decrypted Venona files.
The winners write history, do they not, get together in university rooms and rewrite it scurrilously, damning the upright and lauding the lowlifes.
However, let’s face it, Joe McCarthy was not exactly a fun guy you’d want to go hunting with. Hoover, the FBI. Do stern, severe people like that bring joy and free-breathing to a society, unlike, say, Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath, the Stones and their groupies?
What I’m getting at is there was no real centre position – either you were a rightwing, redneck, Bible-bashing hypocrite or else you were a decadent, drug-fuelled commie of dubious hygiene and values. Or a Mary Whitehouse over here of questionable history herself.
And McCarthy’s mistake? Not nailing the bastards with documentation. We know today that the left infests every walk of public life and the values are poor but unfortunately, one has to have concrete evidence, such as the evidence of Laurel Canyon and the antecedents of the main players.
McCarthy went out on a limb unsupported.
Perhaps, rather than zeroing in on the personal probity of this or that person, it’s best to try to focus on the values themselves, the overall values of the times. After all, the Krays still helped old ladies across the road. Perhaps it’s fair to say that with the Silent Generation, there were more people around with sound values they at least paid lip-service to.
There are still those people around today but fewer and the societal values are absolutely shot to bits now, from road rage through to shady dealings, the welfare culture and the expenses scandal, Dimon and the banksters.
Kennedy had Camelot, Jackie was the squeaky clean idol girls could emulate. Today we know what they were like. The values of Squidgy, Di, Charles, Camilla, Fergie, Air-Miles Andy. Compare to the Queen Mother whom some say was of the lizard people.
How deeply does one delve? Perhaps, once again, better to trace where the values went wrong rather than how well individuals lived up to impossibly high public standards expected of them.
So how out of order was Joseph McCarthy in castigating and trying to wash clean the stench of Hollywood, the same stench we have in the socialist Hollande, his skanky mistress and ex-mistress, portrayed as “glamorous”? DSK and the very journo girl who brought the charges – she and her mother sleeping around with anyone.
Villepin – any better? Sarkozy? Dati who didn’t even know who the father was?
The moment you take a moral stand, try to impose some values, you’re a sitting duck for scrutiny of your own morality. Yet should there be no nobility, no probity, no integrity, for fear of being found wanting?
Who dare start speaking out?