Friday, November 29, 2013

The Joy of Christmas

Don't smile.

People, all kinds of people, like to kvetch and moan about how much better things were in the past. Some undefined past, could mean twenty years ago, could mean fifty. But things were less troublesome, more gooder, you weren't being inconvenienced by the thought police and gas was cheaper.

Well, I don't know about all that. If you know me, you know I believe society is a continuum where fates and fortunes are rising for some and falling for others. Ask a member of the homosexual community if things are better for them now than they were fifty years ago.

One community, however, which is always being persecuted, because it is part of their charter, is the Christian community. And who can blame them, since Obama took God off our coins, and no one says the Pledge of Allegiance in our public schools anymore.

What I can say is this, The Joy of Christmas would probably not have been produced today. Fall, 1979 the choirs of Bay Presbyterian Church were asked to participate in a holiday Christmas special for WEWS (ABC) hosted by Eyewitness News anchor Ted Henry.

Anchorman 2 opens December 13.

The holiday set, with fake lampposts and artificial snow was set into one corner of a large room in the WEWS studios on Euclid Avenue. This one room also included the set for Eyewitness News in another corner, for Morning Exchange in yet another corner, with the much smaller set for the Ohio Lottery wedged between.

Mother tells me I joined the choir for that one year so I could be part of the broadcast, which I do not remember, but may be true. However, if I was hoping to "shine" on local television, that did not happen. While the producer kept asking us to put on a bright and cheery holiday smile for the camera, our choral director, Ernie Hisey, quietly warned all of us to do no such thing. The result is that I look a little pissed off.

The program was repeated a Christmas season or two, but was soon after shelved no doubt because of its strong religious content. This is a Christian celebration of Christmas, including Bible verses from the host, classical images of the birth of Christ, and a family sitting around to read the Bible to each other.

The most interesting, progressive decision was to include one African-American character as part of the pretend family sitting around the pretend living room. Who is he? Is he the father in an inter-racial family? Some guy who came by to read the Bible to everybody? As he is otherwise the only person of color in the entire program, the decision to cast him must have been the result of some intense pre-production debate around the studio.

The Mystery of Christmas

It is not true, however, that the big bad president has taken God off our money, he hasn't. It is also not true that kids no longer recite the pledge in public schools, they do, all across northeast Ohio for certain, because I see and hear them do it all the time as part of my job. The United States government, which is supposed to be religion-neutral, is not.

But a program like this may never again be created by a commercial television station, and for strictly commercial reasons. They aren't worried about offending anyone. They are worried about not pleasing everyone, which is quite different. They are worried about losing money, that same American money that still says "In God We Trust" on it.

Happy Black Friday.

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