So, TV Land recently pulled re-runs of Dukes of Hazzard from its line-up.
They took a look around at the cultural landscape of the moment and made the decision that maybe it’s better to not be the network airing a show that prominently displays the iconography of the Confederate flag night after night right now.
In short, it was a business decision, made by a business, for business reasons.
For some reason, this nation’s cultural conservatives are up in arms over this. Conservative commentators on Twitter insist that this is an example of liberals “punishing” people they disagree with, claiming that it’s not fair that the stars of the show are no longer getting paid for the re-runs.
I thought the conservatives were supposed to be the party of personal responsibility, looking down on a culture of entitlement. I guess I thought wrong, though, if they really feel that John Schneider is entitled to receive residuals in perpetuity for a show that went off the air three decades ago.
Whatever you think about the merits of the show or the decision to pull it, surely any discussion must start with the basic premise that the timeslot in question is TV Land’s to do with as they see fit. Surely we can all agree that the right to freedom of speech does not lead to the right to dictate a cable channel’s line-up. Surely we can all see that the freedom of actors John Schneider and Ben Jones to do and say whatever they want to is in no way abridged by the business decision to show or not show re-runs of a show they were on once upon a time.
I mean, what’s the alternative? Do we decide that TV Land isn’t allowed to ever cancel anything once they’ve decided to air, lest some aggrieved conservative decide its aging stars are under attack?
Let’s have some consistency.
Thirty-five years ago, the producers of Dukes of Hazzard made the conscious decision to invoke a certain image in the marketing of their show. Maybe this decision had something to do with its runaway success, maybe it didn’t. But it’s their decision. They made it. If they are entitled to the fruits of their success, then they’re entitled to the consequences of their decisions, as well. Or are companies like TV Land, Warner, and the public at large required to subsidize them forever in the name of their creative freedom?