Mudcat Café message #695620 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #46801   Message #695620
Posted By: SharonA
22-Apr-02 - 12:11 PM
Thread Name: Andy Griffith Show & Dillards
Subject: RE: Andy Griffith Show
Ron Olesko says, "...you are being naive if you think that television as it existed in the early 1960's would have allowed Griffith to tackle the [African-American actor] issue. It is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback and blame Griffith but that wouldn't be right. Television still had some growing up to do, as did the country."

I agree, but I want to point out that if the show and the network had not chosen to "ignore the fact that African Americans even existed in the South", and instead had created roles for black actors that reflected the way blacks were treated at that time in the South, the result would most likely have been shamefully demeaning.

Don't forget that most roles written for African -Americans at that time were for servants such as butlers or maids, or for poor or vagrant persons. Breakthrough roles such as Bill Cosby's in "I Spy", Greg Morris's in "Mission: Impossible", Diahann Carroll's in "Julia" and Nichelle Nichols's in "Star Trek" were very controversial. Advertisers don't like controversy unless it increases viewership, and advertisers fuel the TV industry.

For all we know, the writers of "The Andy Griffith Show" may have attempted to introduce a black character as a respected member of the community, but the advertisers or the network may have nixed it because of a fear of ratings drop-off. If so, perhaps the absence of black actors on "Andy Griffith" was the result of a conscious choice on the part of the writers NOT to create an African-American character at all if they weren't allowed to create a character that was not a demeaning caricature of a human being.