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Oh Archie!

myiq2xu's picture

I was reading one too many references to "Archie Bunkers" when it occurred to me that Archie is getting a bad rap.

Yeah, Archie was a bigot in 1971 when "All in the Family" went on the air, but he changed over the years.

From Wikipedia:

During the series' run, it would be revealed that, while he did disagree with his son-in-law's political views, much of his resentment stemmed from the fact that Mike was attending college and would be able to chart his own successful future, while Archie was forced to drop out of high school during the Depression to help support his family. One episode showed very clearly that both Archie and Mike were not above twisting the truth to make minorities into stereotypes. Interestingly it is Edith who exposes both Archie and Mike prejudices-yet neither Archie or Mike will admit the truth.

While locked in the store room of Archie's Place with Mike in the episode "Two's a Crowd", Archie confides (after getting drunk), that he was a poor kid who was teased in school for coming to class wearing one shoe and one boot, since his family could not afford to buy him new footwear. ("They called me Shoe-Bootie.") In the same episode, it becomes clear that Archie was also an abused child — yet he then goes on to vehemently defend his father who he says loved him and taught him "right from wrong."

In spite of his numerous flaws, Archie was simultaneously portrayed as being basically decent and, rather than motivated by genuine malice, a product of the time in which he was raised. In the episode "Archie and the KKK," for example, Archie is invited to join a secret "Christian" club which turns out to be a local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan. In spite of his inherent discomfort around people of color, Archie responds with genuine revulsion at the group's violent methods, and attempts to thwart a cross burning. It should also be noted that as the years went on, Archie grew more accepting of people different from himself, albeit partially out of necessity. For example, in 1978, the character became the guardian of Edith's nine-year old niece, Stephanie (Danielle Brisebois), and when it was revealed that Stephanie was Jewish (episode 197), Bunker accepted her faith.


Archie's racism had strongly subsided by the time Archie Bunker's Place began in 1979. During that program's second season, he hired a black nanny, Ellen Canby, for Stephanie and became fond of her. In one episode, Archie punched a man for making a remark about her and was thrown out for good from the lodge he had attended since the early days of All in the Family.

When "All in the Family" first aired, I was 11 years old. When it ended I was married with two children. I grew and changed a lot in those years, and so did Archie.

The show ended 25 years ago. In those years my children grew up and I became a grandfather. I went from a conservative Republican to a liberal Democrat. The country changed a lot too.

Using "Archie Bunker" as an epithet assumes that there is still a significant portion of our country that is stuck in 1971. It also assumes that people are one-dimensional and incapable of change.

I don't believe that.

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Imelda Blahnik's picture
Submitted by Imelda Blahnik on

10 bonus points for anyone who gets the reference. Or maybe that should be minus 10 bonus points.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I can't be called an "Archie Bunker" if not. I had just assumed I'm not supporting him because he doesn't appear to have solid guiding principles or any tangible experience or desire to lead.

ggggchapelhill's picture
Submitted by ggggchapelhill on

So I'm checking out the main page of mydd and see a post titled "Racism on this site" which is a long lament about how Clinton supporters can't help their racist ways.

So what does he bring to the table to show us our evil ways?....

"Now to get this out of the way, I am a white guy, fairly well off, I went to a good college, and I even have a master's degree. I'm not some craaaazy-ass militant black dude who's seething with resentment at the way the Man has kept me down, so don't go off and think I'm only seeing this because I have a chip on my shoulder and that slavery has been gone for 143 years and Jim Crow has been gone for 40-odd years, so I should just shut the fuck up and stop whining and pull myself up by my bootstraps."

Save me Jeebus!!!!!!!

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Yeah, there's nothing in that paragraph patronizing or racist at all!!!

The disconnect of these is unbearable at times. And this is all the logical conclusion of using the race card. When people accused the Clinton's of being racist, most people went, huh? It makes no sense in a Democratic primary, we aren't the party of racists, and it would be more likely to hurt than help. So, to make it believable that the Clinton's would use racist themes to attack Obama, of course her supporters have to be racist, duh.

Bill Clinton for First Dude!!!

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

That's what everyone seems to forget. He hated Roosevelt and the New Deal. Hated women's right. Hated civil rights. Defended Nixon. He was a Republican. Not only did Archie say it, it's in the theme song:

Boy the way Glen Miller played
Songs that made the hit parade
Guys like us we had it made
Those were the days,

And you know where you were then,
Girls were girls and men were men,
Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again,
Didn't need no welfare states
Everybody pulled his weight,
Gee our old Lasalle ran great,
Those were the days!

There aren't any Archie Bunker democrats unless by democrats you mean republicans.

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

that the "Archie Bunker" stereotype is 37 years old.

We are farther from 1971 than Archie and Edith were from the New Deal.

My kids only know about Nixon from the history books. Two of them don't remember Reagan, and the third only remembers him vaguely (the way I remember Johnson.)

Real ponies don't oink - Patrick McManus

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

moved on up to the East Side.

Real ponies don't oink - Patrick McManus

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

But so many of our "creative class" seems to not know anything that happened before 1990, that I felt the need to state on the record what we both know. Archie was a republican.

myiq2xu's picture
Submitted by myiq2xu on

unless Mike was now an investment banker, in which case he would be a latte-sipping Obamite.

Real ponies don't oink - Patrick McManus