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How well has [insert entertainment] aged?

Maister

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I think comedy in general tends to fare more poorly than other genres of entertainment when asking 'how well has it aged?' Even great comedies like MASH have certain elements that wouldn't fly with today's audiences. For example, anyone remember the black surgeon from very early in the show's history with the nickname 'spearchucker'? What about Hawkeye's womanizing, or the countless times Major Houlihan and other nurses were sexually harassed?

Have classic tv shows like 'I Love Lucy' or 'The Honeymooners' suffered over time? Does much of the humor not carry over?
 
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JNA

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Super Amputee Cat

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I like the Law and Order franchises, especially Criminal Intent. Lately, I've been watching more SVU namely because it is the only show that I can get on ION, a show that I shied away from for many years because of the disturbing content. They just started with Season 1 a couple of weeks ago after finishing with Season 16 or 17.

These first shows aired in 1999 and 2000, over 20 years ago now. When I first saw the show all those years ago, I had no idea what it would be about. "Special Victims" was kind of vague and ubiquitous. It really should have been called: Law and Order: Sexual Intent.

Seen today, I was frankly quite amazed at the amount of sexual innuendo for a series that deals with a lot of rape and sexual assault victims.

The main character, Olivia Benson, portrayed by Mariska Hargitay, is a lot more open about her own sexuality than anything I've seen in the later episodes: She was only 35 when the series began and you can see a lot of her mother - Jayne Mansfield, in her. In the first season, she takes men home on at least two occasions (only to kick one out when he wanted to "pretend to be the rapist"). She also reveals that when she was 17, she had a crush on a guy in his 30s. Though she never outright states that she had a sexual relationship with this man, her professor, I believe, you can pretty much read between the lines. She seemed perfectly OK with it now that she was a woman in her 30s, even though the entire show is based on bringing these types of "predictors" to justice.

Another character John Munch, played by Richard Belzer makes a lot of inappropriate comments throughout the season, frequently using words like "hookers" and even "whores" on an almost nonchalant level. At one point, another main female character says "stop looking at my ass!" but in a flirty kind of way. There also appear to be a couple of office romances going on, with Hargity's character dating another detective .

These are just a couple of examples of dialogue that would never be allowed in the later seasons. Though the main character is female - indeed the longest running drama character in television history - the objectifying comments of the men are often presented in a somewhat lackadaisical way. Indeed, Munch isn't the only male character to make inappropriate comments. Ice T's character could sometimes make sexist comments as well.

Considering the deeply disturbing subject matter that prevailed throughout this long running series, these early episodes seemed a little dated, especially in this Me Too era. One wonders if the scripts would have been first presented in 2020 instead of 2000, if a lot of it would have been thrown out or rewritten. While I realize the actors were just starting out and it would take a few years for them to become "seasoned", nevertheless these early episodes really do raise eyebrows when compared to the seriousness and bleakness of the later seasons.

With that said, overall I do l like the series and most of the episodes ranks right up there among the best in the franchise in terms of story and characterizations. What I found refreshing is that although most of the victims are female, there are occasionally male victims as well, with the female predators and con artists dishing it out just as convincingly as their male counterparts. And when they are caught, Benson and her team do not look the other way, as these characters are brought to justice. The show certainly does not pull any punches when it come to male victimization in a Me Too world.
 
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dw914er

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I think comedy in general tends to fare more poorly than other genres of entertainment when asking 'how well has it aged?' Even great comedies like MASH have certain elements that wouldn't fly with today's audiences. For example, anyone remember the black surgeon from very early in the show's history with the nickname 'spearchucker'? What about Hawkeye's womanizing, or the countless times Major Houlihan and other nurses were sexually harassed?

Have classic tv shows like 'I Love Lucy' or 'The Honeymooners' suffered over time? Does much of the humor not carry over?
Edgy comedies have certainly aged poorly. I couldn't imagine a show like Married with Children, which certainly was pushing some boundaries in the early 90s, could be made today. Even popular sitcoms like Friends and Seinfeld have jokes that wouldn't fly today.
 

Dan

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I see a lot of old-timey comic strips when I'm lookng through old newspapers doing research. I'll look at them and think "where's the funny?" "The humor is just plain non-existent by today's standards -- not because of anything that is offensive, but because it just isn't there. Also, the art is often very primitive, like what you'd see in a high school newspaper. Here's a few examples from the Buffalo Courier-Express in 1926.

not funny 1.jpg

not funny 2.jpg

not funny 3.jpg
not funny 4.jpg

not funny 10.jpg
 

Maister

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I see a lot of old-timey comic strips when I'm lookng through old newspapers doing research. I'll look at them and think "where's the funny?" "The humor is just plain non-existent by today's standards -- not because of anything that is offensive, but because it just isn't there. Also, the art is often very primitive, like what you'd see in a high school newspaper. Here's a few examples from the Buffalo Courier-Express in 1926.
You have a point. What are we missing here humor-wise? I mean I'd like to think we understand the concept of joke construction fairly well. But you're right, there's no 'joke' there in those strips you posted. Bear in mind the same time as those strips were being shown, comedians were on stages throwing cream pies in faces and audiences were laughing at Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin's antics on the screen. Given that many of their jokes hold up today - or at the very least register with modern sensibilities as being attempts at humor - why do we not find any 'funnies' in the funny pages of the era? It truly is perplexing to me.
 

Maister

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How about science fiction? In terms of film, the genre is heavily dependent on special effects as an instrument for story telling. Special effects on film and television have generally improved greatly over time. Does that mean the sci fi of yesteryear has fared very poorly? Any 'classics' from the 1950's hold up today?
 

Gedunker

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^^My son is reading an Asimov novel (I forget which one), but he comes laughing to me because the premise is 12,000 years into the future and they are still using ... microfiche. He looks at me and says "Dad, seriously? Microfiche?"
 

mendelman

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^^My son is reading an Asimov novel (I forget which one), but he comes laughing to me because the premise is 12,000 years into the future and they are still using ... microfiche. He looks at me and says "Dad, seriously? Microfiche?"
Asimov was pretty great with conceptualizing and projecting Big Ideas, but...yeah.
 
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Maister

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Asimov is pretty great with creating and projecting Big Ideas, but...yeah.
I'm convinced sci fi's forte is found more in serving as social commentary on current trends, rather than actually presaging future trends (although it's been known to do that too e.g. Jules Verne).
 

bureaucrat#3

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Edgy comedies have certainly aged poorly. I couldn't imagine a show like Married with Children, which certainly was pushing some boundaries in the early 90s, could be made today. Even popular sitcoms like Friends and Seinfeld have jokes that wouldn't fly today.
Just think if All In The Family was aired today.
I don't think there would be any issue with these airing today. They wouldn't be on network tv anymore, they would be on HBO, FX or some other cable company. They'd have more sex and potentially violence, but the I think any really sexists/racist comments would be depicted in negative framing to show how the character is wrong or a racist.

Shows like Sunny in Philadelphia, Eastbound and Down, South Park and Family Guy still make a lot of the same jokes or worse. They just do it an over-the-top manner (usually) to show you the irredeemable or negative values/hypocrisy of their character.

I don't think most sitcoms age well. They're too tied to their time (although I have been watching Newhart lately.)
 

Maister

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I don't think there would be any issue with these airing today. They wouldn't be on network tv anymore, they would be on HBO, FX or some other cable company. They'd have more sex and potentially violence, but the I think any really sexists/racist comments would be depicted in negative framing to show how the character is wrong or a racist.
I suspect their equivalent would indeed end up on some cable or streaming channel with much slicker production values and a more overt moral 'framing' depicting the characters as being deeply flawed people.
 

Super Amputee Cat

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I see a lot of old-timey comic strips when I'm lookng through old newspapers doing research. I'll look at them and think "where's the funny?" "The humor is just plain non-existent by today's standards -- not because of anything that is offensive, but because it just isn't there. Also, the art is often very primitive, like what you'd see in a high school newspaper. Here's a few examples from the Buffalo Courier-Express in 1926.

View attachment 49114

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Actually I think a lot of these 1910s and 1920s comics are funny if you view them in the context of their time. Our local paper used to carry a comic called Mutt and Jeff way back in the 1910s. Though the humor is often simplistic, the artwork is better than much of the stuff churned out today and are enjoyable on this stand alone simplistic level of humor.

On the other hand, you have Beatle Bailey, which has been running for over 60 years now and hasn't been funny for 40 or more. It's sexist, and stereotypical. There is no punchline at all, just tired out recycled jokes that have been incessantly reused for more than 40 years. Why this comic continues to run in hundreds of newspapers across the country is beyond comprehension.
 

Super Amputee Cat

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How about science fiction? In terms of film, the genre is heavily dependent on special effects as an instrument for story telling. Special effects on film and television have generally improved greatly over time. Does that mean the sci fi of yesteryear has fared very poorly? Any 'classics' from the 1950's hold up today?
I still get into 1960s shows like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and The Invaders. The stories may be simple by today's standards, but the special effects, especially in the later shows of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea really do hold up. I remember first seeing it on me TV around 2011 and was amazed by how engaging some of the episodes were after more than 45 years.

Even some scenes of Star Trek T.O.S. really get to me, even though i know much of the acting now seems wooden and the planetary scenes are mattes and not real. The reason is because they had such and effect on me as a small child that it still can shine through after more than 45 years. It just seemed so real back then, and I remember that it seemed so real. It's like when I view a certain scene it dislodges some locked up memory from so long ago. The overall effect is much more profound that later TNG and DS9 episodes because I was a jaded adult by the time I saw those and it the computer generated special effect really didn't do anything for me.

Another show that had science fiction elements was The Avengers, from the mid-1960s. I remember really being into the show when I was a kid, and when I started watching it again around 2007-08 with my kids when they were 7 and 9, I enjoyed it even more. My kids really got into it, the simplistic plots by today's standards were perfectly digestible for their young minds. Their enjoyment of the show actually enhanced my enjoyment (versus watching it alone) to the point that it seemed like I was reliving my childhood. The stark and bleak landscapes of many of the outdoor scenes only added to the appeal.
 

luckless pedestrian

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I was surprised to see how homophobic a lot of 90's shows were but at the time, yeah, we all laughed at "not that there's anything wrong with that" on Seinfeld but male characters on Friends were crazy paranoid about people thinking they were gay - but again, that was a thing then, we were transitioning from seeing gay people as eccentric in the 80's to trying to assimilate in the 90's - societal changes take time

The one that gets me is Tin Tin - I re read all of those a few years back and the whole "savages" thing was rampant

I think there is a little of "too bad - couldn't do that joke today" but also there is "why would you want to do that joke today" as what was funny 20 years ago isn't that funny now
 

Whose Yur Planner

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How about science fiction? In terms of film, the genre is heavily dependent on special effects as an instrument for story telling. Special effects on film and television have generally improved greatly over time. Does that mean the sci fi of yesteryear has fared very poorly? Any 'classics' from the 1950's hold up today?
I finally had to stop reading the sci-fi novel that was written in '82. It was too dated both on the tech and the social commentary part. It also reminded my why I've largely gotten out of reading sci-fi. Sci-fi works best when it takes current ideas and societal trends and projects then out into their logical or illogical extremes. It allows us to explore the implications of those tends in a safe way, The original Star Trek was good at doing that.
 

Maister

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I finally had to stop reading the sci-fi novel that was written in '82. It was too dated both on the tech and the social commentary part. It also reminded my why I've largely gotten out of reading sci-fi. Sci-fi works best when it takes current ideas and societal trends and projects then out into their logical or illogical extremes. It allows us to explore the implications of those tends in a safe way, The original Star Trek was good at doing that.
STTNG did that as well as the original series. I'm thinking of an episode where aliens seized control of the Enterprise by use of a mind control program that was trojan horsed as a computer game that (almost) the entire crew got addicted to.
 

Dan

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More comics from a century ago that ... well, I just don't get. Except for the first example, they all seem like they're lacking a frame or speech bubble with the real punchline. These all come from the August 28, 1922 Buffalo Evening News.

BEN 8-28-1922 04.jpg

BEN 8-28-1922 02.jpg

BEN 8-28-1922 03.jpg

BEN 8-28-1922 05.jpg

BEN 8-28-1922 01.jpg
 
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A 1950 Western with an all-star cast is public domain on youtube. My guess is that nobody cared if the copyright expired; it was grossly dated, even in... well... 1950's Hollywood.

The "grossly dated" part is not that it's a Western set in the 1870's. And the movie actually shows some compassion for the Native American people.

It's that the leading lady, who could have any man in the world, falls in love with the one and only man who ever hit her. I mean, he slugged her silly and then pushed her face into his dirty wash basin. That scene is @ 31 minutes into the movie.


Even in 1950's Hollywood, you'd expect a lady whom so many want as a bride to eventually get back at the S.O.B. and marry a wonderful gentleman. Nope. A little later in the movie, the dude smacks her face really hard, and she falls even more in love with him.
 
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Dan

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Here's an clipping from the February 19, 1960 Buffalo Evening News. To me, this seems more like what you might find in any other city in the 1930s and 1940s -- burlesque acts, trios and quintets, broiled lobster dinners, and the like. Bavarian night club? Sepia shows? In any case, this all seems a bit too old-timey by today's standards.

Buffalo-NY-Evening-News-1960---2961-1.jpg

Anyone up for prime rib, prime rib, or better yet, prime rib? 1979 really wasn't that long ago, but these restaurant listings look like they're straight out of the 1950s. It's old people food even by the standards of the day. There's still a bunch of places like this in the Buffalo area today. They were dated by the time Gilligan's Island started airing in color, but they still have unironically loyal followings.

 
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