A writer I am a fan of claims The Munsters and The Addams Family were the two most important sitcoms in history. His reasoning? The shows coincided with the transition from desegregation to integration. These stories were ones where the outcasts were the good guys, yet rejected for their appearance. The oddballs saw the good in everyone that failed to see it in them. It showed people proud of their unique identities and being tolerant towards those that judged them.
Society is currently not giving itself enough credit for how far it has come. The world is not a static place. It is evolving and we will always be in some stage of adapting to change. I look around Venice and see people who understood that assignment. This place has reinvented itself more times than the Batman character. A portrait of inclusion. Chinese masseurs next to an Egyptian bazaar next to an empanada stand. “Freshly baked! If you don’t like them you don’t pay” the man chants with a carnival tone.
Venice reminds me of the families I grew up with through reruns. Being different is celebrated here. I am pretty sure The Munsters have a tattoo shop on the boardwalk.
As I approach 44 years of age I remember the contrast of these shows with the real world. A tattoo was recently a sign of high rebellion. A mohawk made you an anarchist. Not just to the neighbors, but to the authorities as well. A t-shirt for a heavy metal band was more ostracizing than a proper felony. Non-conformity was not tolerated. Words like inclusion held no weight. These behaviors came with the threat of “nobody is going to hire you” and they were correct. We have come a long way. Just a short time before that era having long hair was enough to put you beyond the social fringe.
I think there is this misconception the year 2000 was insignificant because we didn’t have flying cars and moon bases yet. The 1990s was a dark age. All of the movements that have gained traction were basically still at ground zero in the 90s. Racism and all sorts of phobias were much more the norms than they are today. Coming out of the closet was a cancellable offense, now it is protected by federal law.
The rumblings of a nuclear conflict are loud today. There are people living the worst nightmare imaginable right now. Let’s all love one another a little extra for a while.