Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author and illustrator’s legacy, announced on his birthday, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, that it would cease publication of several children’s titles because of insensitive and racist imagery. (Steven Senne - AP Photo)

Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the business that preserves and protects the author and illustrator’s legacy, announced on his birthday, Tuesday, March 2, 2021, that it would cease publication of several children’s titles because of insensitive and racist imagery. (Steven Senne - AP Photo)

COLUMN: A shift in cultural norms and standards

Concepts and terms which were once accepted are now considered repulsive

A vintage television commercial caught me off guard.

It was an animated black and white ad for Winston cigarettes, made in 1961, and it featured Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble from the animated TV series. This was one in a series of Flintstones cigarette commercials, and many can be found online with little effort.

The Flintstones ran from 1960 to 1966, and for its first two seasons, it was sponsored by the cigarette manufacturer. Later, juice-maker Welch’s sponsored the show. The commercial I noticed showed Fred and Barney smoking in the backyard while their wives, Wilma and Betty, are working hard around their homes.

A lot has changed since those commercials aired. Almost all tobacco advertising and promotion is banned in Canada, and it has been decades since cigarette ads have been allowed on Canadian television channels.

READ ALSO: 6 Dr. Seuss books won’t be published for racist images

READ ALSO: Country singer Morgan Wallen pulled from B.C. radio stations following use of racial slur

The image of Fred and Barney goofing off while their wives do the hard work also wouldn’t fly today, even if the characters weren’t puffing away on cigarettes. In a world that has been addressing sexism and gender roles, the image seems more than a little incongruous.

Times have changed. The cultural standards and norms of an earlier era are not the same as the values of today.

The Flintstones cigarette commercial isn’t the only example of changing standards.

Consider the Beatles song, Run For Your Life, written by John Lennon and recorded in 1965. The lyrics feature a man who uses a condescending, threatening tone when talking to a woman. Some radio stations will no longer play this song because of the lyrics. Violence against women is nothing new, but now there’s a long-overdue discussion around this topic which didn’t exist in the same way in the mid-1960s.

Skipping ahead a couple of decades, the 1985 Dire Straits song, Money For Nothing, uses an anti-gay slur repeatedly. The slur was quite common from the 1970s to the 1990s, but I haven’t heard it in the past couple of decades. (Come to think of it, I can’t recall the last time I’ve heard that song played on the radio either.)

Certain words and concepts which were once common are now considered repulsive, while words or phrases in use today would have shocked a previous generation.

The change in standards showed itself once again last week when Dr. Seuss Enterprises pulled six of its titles. The announcement was made on March 2, the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, who wrote under the Dr. Seuss name.

“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” a statement from Dr. Seuss Enterprises reads. “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalogue represents and supports all communities and families.”

Dr. Seuss illustrated his first book, The Pocket Book of Boners, in 1931. That was 90 years ago. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! was published in 1990, shortly before his death in 1991. Perhaps even more has changed in the 30 years since his passing.

Today, some of his images and terms are considered offensive, leaving parents uncomfortable to read the stories or show the pictures to their children. Yet at the same time, others are upset that these classic book titles are being withdrawn.

Perhaps in another few decades, a completely different set of values will affect our books, music, animations and other entertainment.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

To report a typo, email:
news@summerlandreview.com
.



news@summerlandreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Columnist

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In a feature article published April 10, 2021 in The Times of London, ‘headlined British Columbia has what it takes to rival Napa Valley,’ the valley is praised extensively for its natural beauty and wine. (File photo)
From the U.K. with love: Okanagan wine, scenery receives international praise

The Times of London newspaper recently featured the valley in a wine and travel piece

FILE — In this March 31, 2021 file photo, a nurse fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose COVID-19 vaccine at the Vaxmobile, at the Uniondale Hempstead Senior Center, in Uniondale, N.Y. The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said it was investigating clots in six women in the days after vaccination, in combination with reduced platelet counts. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
72 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases in the region to 9,666 since the pandemic began

Fire rips through shop in small South Okanagan town

The building was destroyed despite community efforts to fight the fire

The Save Sickle Point Committee, a grassroots community group, has teamed up Penticton’s Tempest Theatre and Film Society to release short film on Sickle Point. (Contributed)
WATCH: Conservationists release short film on saving ‘precious’ Sickle Point

Sickle Point, the last intact wetland near Skaha Lake, is facing the prospect of development

The municipality of Summerland will develop a code of ethics for municipal staff. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland to develop code of ethics for staff

One-page values document will serve to guide municipal staff

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Marylou Jensen. (Contributed)
Kelowna RCMP searching for missing senior

Marylou Jensen left her Grenfell Road home on foot at 5 p.m.

A dumpster was on fire behind a residential complex in downtown Penticton Tuesday afternoon. (Brennan Phillips Western News)
Dumpster fire extinguished in downtown Penticton

There has been a string of dumpster fires lately

Skogie’s Express Tunnel Wash on Anderson Way in Vernon. (Submitted photo)
Lawsuit dismissed after vehicle damaged while inside Okanagan car wash

Civil Resolution Tribunal dismisses driver’s claim following a collision inside Skogie’s car wash in Vernon

The future of the Eagle Pass Lookout cabin is being discussed. (File photo)
Options presented for future of former Eagle Pass fire lookout in Shuswap

Stakeholders met in 2020 to discuss the restoration, or possible removal of the cabin

(Mayor Cindy Fortin - Peachland)
Peachland mayor declines early vaccination offer

Mayor Cindy Fortin said she wants seniors, immunocompromised individuals to get the shot first

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Conservation officers caught three men over fishing bull trout in Kinbasket Lake. (Facebook)
B.C. men fined $1.7K for overfishing near Revelstoke, Golden

The seized fish were donated to the Golden Food Bank

NorKam secondary student Karis Wilson in the outfit that got her sent home from school on Feb. 23, 2021. (Kamloops This Week photo)
Clothing that ‘detracts from learning process’ removed from SD73 student dress code

Policy change underway after student in knee-length dress, long-sleeve turtleneck sent home

Most Read