Did TV’s ‘rural purge’ of the late 60s early 70s influence the ‘angry GOP base’ movement?
This is a pet theory of mine with almost no data I can point to other than anecdotal evidence but ever since learning about the television’s “rural purge” I have always wondered if it hit a discordian chord in the psyche of a segment of the American population. The “rural purge” of American television networks (in particular CBS), was the term used to describe a series of cancellations between 1969 and 1972, the majority of which occurred at the end of the 1970-71 television season of still popular rural-themed shows with demographically skewed audiences. The numerous cancellations prompted Pat Buttram (“Mr. Haney” on one of the cancelled shows, Green Acres) to make the observation: “It was the year CBS cancelled everything with a tree—including Lassie”.
This is also around the time frame where in American politics, the demographics of such ‘rural’ shows (southern whites, of a somewhat conservative bent?) started to feel as if “the establishment” had turned against them. What replaced the ‘rural’ shows was urban themed shows with a liberal bent like “All In the Family” and “Maude” where the old values were mocked.
So I think for about a generation, we had this built in resentment against “Hollywood”, aka “Liberal Hollywood”, “Hollywierd”, “liberal establishment” by a demographic base that grew more isolated and insular which took on a siege mentality. That is why I am not surprised that generationally speaking, as the demographic group that may have been subliminally affected by the effects of the “rural purge” to their psyche started to die off, the GOP, which attracted this disaffected demographic started to shrink.
So when we see an outraged Tea Party rally, maybe, just maybe, we are seeing the last vestiges of the simmering aftereffect it had on a group’s cultural psyche as a result of the great ‘rural’ television purges.