And Then There's Norm


The Onion's AV Club has a pretty interesting interview with Norman Lear, who in days of yore bestrode the TV world like a colostomy bag. Sample:

O: If you were just reflecting back what people saw in their daily lives, why were these shows so controversial?

NL: They weren't that controversial. That's the heart of it: My shows were not that controversial with the American people. They were controversial with the people who think for the American people. That's a very hard thing to help the establishment know. We're still an establishment that thinks the average mentality is something like 13 years of age, that never forgot H.L. Mencken's notion that nobody lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American people. That's the horseshit the establishment has always lived with.

The American people may not be the best-educated, but they're very wise at heart. I remember making a picture called Cold Turkey, before All In The Family, in Winterset, Iowa. There were a couple of shop owners on the town square that everybody knew, and I knew very well, who were gay and had been living together for a great many years. And it was no big deal in the town. From that moment, I thought of Iowa as my second home. And when they used to say, "This will never fly in Des Moines," or "There'll be a knee-jerk reaction in the Bible Belt if you do this," I would say, "Don't tell me that. I come from the Bible Belt, and I'm a son of Des Moines." There was no real controversy with All In The Family. That came from the people on the business end.

Whole thing, with further discussion of the great, forgotten Dick Van Dyke smoking comedy Cold Turkey, right here.