This past weekend I found myself watching an old Humphrey Bogart movie. The 1941 film titled "High Sierra" is about a robbery of a fashionable California resort hotel. While planning the caper Bogart's character falls in love with a 15-year-old girl. He goes as far as to pay for an operation to fix the young girl's club foot. The parents of the girl encourage her to marry Bogart's character because they believe they would make a good couple. I guess I should mention that Bogart's character is 40-plus years old in this film. The girl turns Bogart down because she doesn't love him and Bogart's character dies in the end after being shot by the police.
I found the dynamics of the attempted romance interesting in the film. It was considered normal in 1941 for a 15-year-old's parents to want her to pursue a relationship with a middle-aged man. In today's society, this would not only be taboo but would also be criminal. Our society has improved on this subject in the past 75 years. We cannot have old men chasing after underage girls. It is just wrong.
This got me thinking about what it would be like if we started looking at some other entertainment from back in the day through the lens of today's standards.
Let's take Miss Kitty from "Gunsmoke" fame, for instance. Kitty owned the Long Branch saloon and there were several young women working in that establishment. By today's standards, Kitty was involved in human trafficking and sexual exploitation. When the show was being produced Kitty was certainly viewed as a positive character and one of the "good guys" but if you look at it from today then definitely Kitty's chosen profession leaves a great bit to be desired.
Next is the iconic character Hawkeye Pierce from "M*A*S*H." Hawkeye was an idealistic surgeon who hated war and had a passion for medicine. Hawkeye was also a textbook example of a workplace sexual harasser. Hawkeye was always pursuing romantic interaction with the nurses and in his position as chief surgeon of the unit he was definitely an authority figure. In today's world, Hawkeye would not be a rakish, womanizing playboy but rather a creep who should be reprimanded, demoted and terminated.
Finally, we come to Prince Charming from the Disney classic "Cinderella." After having only one dance with Cinderella the Prince goes door to door in the kingdom and forces all the girls to try on Cinderella's glass slipper. He is determined to find this girl and make her marry him. Can we say stalker? Because by today's standards, this is classic stalker behavior.
It's funny how perceptions and ideas change through the years. But something that is certain is that we are evolving as a society for the better. Things that were allowed and cultivated in the past in regard to the treatment of women are changing. As they should.
I'm as guilty as anyone of remembering the past possibly too fondly. I've caught myself saying I remember the good old days. Change is not only inevitable but change is also very good. We must grow and become better as a society.
Folks, the way we did certain things in the past was wrong and cannot be tolerated today. I don't care who is doing it or why they are doing it. We are better than that now. We must treat everyone with respect and courtesy.
We are not in a gangster film from the '40s. We are a modern society in a progressive community that must embrace the new rules of conduct. Harassment, exploitation and ignorance have no place in our world and certainly that is something we can all agree upon.Editorial on 03/24/2019
Print Headline: No, not Hawkeye