Anti- Vietnam War Connotations in Common TV Land Sitcoms
In the early 1970s, the United States was amidst a controversial and generally unpopular war in Vietnam. Moreover, many Americans still had fresh in their minds the atrocities and horrible aftermath of World War II and the Korean War. At the time, the television shows “M*A*S*H”, “Hawaii 5-O”, and “Hogan’s Heroes” were big primetime hits on the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). Considering the general unpopularity of the Vietnam War in the early 1970s, it was not uncommon to see in the daily pop culture connotations associated with the war. This was especially true with certain episodes aired on “M*A*S*H” and “Hawaii 5-O”, where disapproval of the war was not even the slightest bit subtle. Moreover, with the conclusion of World War II only twenty five years prior to “Hogan’s Heroes” airing, writers often assumed a certain level of knowledge in their viewers concerning World War II. In episodes of “Hawaii 5-O” and “M*A*S*H”, this level of knowledge was also expected of the Vietnam War. In the midst of the War, it was certainly clear that American media and pop culture was greatly influenced by warfare. Writers of these television shows often assumed a certain level of knowledge of recent history and current events. Through this, they suggested obvious connotations concerning their disapproval of the Vietnam War and portrayed the unfortunate truths about the aftermath of war. The assumption of a certain level of historical knowledge is clear in Hogan’s Heroes, where knowledge of certain aspects of World War II history are crucial in understanding the plot of the episode. Moreover, in episodes of “M*A*S*H” and “Hawaii 5-O”, not only was a knowledge of the Vietnam War assumed, it was necessary in understanding the true underlying agenda that the writers used to portray the atrocities and horrible effects of the Vietnam War on a soldier who fought and continued to fight for a questionable and unclear cause. Writers of “Hogan’s Heroes”, “M*A*S*H”, and “Hawaii 5-O” often assumed a certain level of knowledge in its viewers about World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Korean War when writing their scripts. The ability to grasp the dialogues and situations of the episode was essential in understanding the plot of a certain episode and in certain cases, the underlying agenda and connotations the writers sometimes strived to convey. “Hogan’s Heroes” did not have many Vietnam War connotations as did “M*A*S*H” and “Hawaii 5-O”. However, a certain level of knowledge about World War II was required to understand the plot of many episodes. The episode “Art for Hogan’s Sake”, for instance, is a prime example of this in that it requires some knowledge on French and World War II history. In this episode, General Burkhalter takes Manet’s painting “Boy Plays Flute Fife” from the Louvre as a birthday gift for Hermann Goring. The writers make many assumptions in this episode. For example, it is necessary to understand why Manet’s painting is such an important icon for LeBeau, a French POW in the camp. It would be difficult to understand the story line if one did not recognize two crucial facts: that Manet is a French artist and that the Louvre is a famous art museum in Paris. Moreover, it would be even more difficult to follow if one did not know that Hermann Goring was a high ranking Nazi Official; a patron of the arts who enjoyed collecting various pieces of art. Manet’s painting would be an appropriate gift, as a result, for Goring’s birthday. Many assumptions are made by the writers of “Hogan’s Heroes”. They assume that the general public has a high enough level of education and knowledge to understand and follow the events of the plot in this episode. The writers of “M*A*S*H” and “Hawaii 5-O” make similar assumptions. Contrary to “Hogan’s Heroes,” though, is that the required knowledge is crucial in both understanding plots and some underlying agendas as proven was common during...
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