published Monday, July 9th, 2012

Cook: Would the Andy Griffith Show make it on air in Hollywood today?

“The Andy Griffith Show"
“The Andy Griffith Show"
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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In nearly every episode of “The Andy Griffith Show,” the gun was missing. The gun was secondary and off camera. Out of the picture.

Sure, we knew it was there ... somewhere. Barney bumbled with his one bullet, and Sheriff Andy had the (wasn’t it unlocked?) gun case in the sheriff’s office, but the gun was never a central object. Andy didn’t even carry one. Barney barely did.

Of course, the show was born in black-and-white Hollywood, which is drastically different than our flatscreen 21st century world. But Andy Griffith’s death last week left me thinking: Would his show make the airwaves today? If screenwriters proposed “The Andy Griffith Show” to Hollywood today, would it make the cut?

Probably not. First, you need people of color (name one minority character that appeared even semi-regularly) and some post-1950 understanding that alcoholism is not comedic. Sorry, Otis.

But the main reason why the show would not appear in prime time is because no cop/law enforcement television show treats guns in such a way anymore.

These days, the gun is everywhere.

“A typical child in the U.S. watches 28 hours of TV weekly,” the American Psychological Association reports, “seeing as many as 8,000 murders by the time he or she finishes elementary school at age 11.”

Why do we script our TV shows in such a way? What is the effect of such screen violence?

“Such TV violence socialization may make children immune to brutality and aggression, while others become fearful of living in such a dangerous society,” the report continues.

Name one cop show where the main character goes unarmed and his sidekick keeps his bullet in his buttoned-up shirt pocket. Andy Griffith would be laughed out of Hollywood today.

And Nashville, too.

Thanks to the National Rifle Association lobby.

In 2011, Nashville legislators filed pro-NRA bills that would allow:

• Tennessee judges to carry guns in their courtroom;

• Gun owners to store their gun in their vehicles while parked at work, regardless of company rules;

• Faculty to carry guns onto school property at public universities;

• Property-owning Tennesseans to obtain a handgun-carry permit, even if they only own property in our state but do not live here.

All this comes after lawmakers allowed licensed gun owners to carry their guns into bars, restaurants and state parks.

This summer, the NRA has already — already! — begun pressuring candidates even before they become lawmakers. In a letter sent to legislative candidates, the NRA asks 27 questions about Tennessee gun issues, including this one:

“As a legislator, would you follow the demands of party leadership even if they run contrary to the NRA’s legislative agenda?” the survey reads.

It’s like the NRA has become a third political party demanding allegiance over — not just voters and the overall good of the state — but top Republican leadership.

Get back in line.

There are far more important issues facing our great and troubled state than guns in parking lots. For the NRA to bully legislators in such a way is to act as if gun rights is the only issue in the state while furthering a fear-based psychology: Crime, crime, everywhere is crime.

Yes, it’s the Second Amendment, and the amount of Tennessee murders committed by licensed handgun owners is minuscule — only 0.002 percent of our state’s permitted population, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Violence Policy Center.

I’m not arguing against the Second Amendment. I’m arguing unreasonableness, and the NRA’s attempt to be the most powerful lobby in our state.

Crime in Mayberry usually didn’t extend past wayward moonshiners or pie-off-the-windowsill theft. The show matters because it is a window into American psychology at the time, just as modern television is today.

I wonder what Andy would say about the NRA lobby in Tennessee.

Contact David Cook at or 423-757-6329. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at DavidCookTFP.

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

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Oz said...

I would take the NRA over the NEA anyway of the week. The NRA can save us from the failures of the NEA,

July 10, 2012 at 12:11 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

I grew up watching Clint Eastwood, the westerns and the Dirty Harry movies; Charles Bronson in the Death Wish series; and all the slasher horror classics. I knew the difference in fictional carnage on the television and in the theater because parents were around to let me know at an early age such things were not real or at least what I was watching wasn't actually happening. That was two parents though I know that might make me sound elitist or privileged to liberals.

July 10, 2012 at 2:02 a.m.

Still trying to blame the NEA for your failing schools? If you were really interested in the issues with schools, you'd realize the biggest issue was the syphoning of money away from the students. But that's another issue.

The NRA has gotten to be a fanatic group of zealots who mindlessly pursue their agenda and act as if they were one step away from persecution. Such hysteria is not appropriate around firearms, but I guess it's inseparable from politics.

BTW, Andy Taylor was a single father. No reason to look down on people just because you have been taught to disdain others. Oh wait you think people still buy that swill.

That's what makes you sound elitist though, that sneering condescension towards others. Maybe you ought to watch a few episodes to see if you can catch one with the moral about judging others.

July 10, 2012 at 2:29 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

I'm looking down on nobody but liberals who fail to understand the collapse of the traditional family is a big reason for the country's woes.

Opie also had Aunt Bea as a mother-figure. In real situations in this town there are mothers with five or six kids, by two or three fathers who are no longer in the picture if they ever were after one night. Those mothers should not be forced to wear a scarlet letter but their situations shouldn't be thought of as positives.

An out of control NEA results in the abuse of power in the Atlanta grade changing scandals-and that's not the only one. I feel bad for the kids in those schools who thought they were achieving at a good rate.

I'm still waiting for your opinion on why the rate is 60 percent. There was nothing in the opinion piece about it, it just stated the fact of the percentage. Are you still going to duck it?

July 10, 2012 at 2:51 a.m.

Yes, you are looking down on people. You just feel it's justified, which is a common attitude people adopt to defend their conduct. Of course, that defense is itself demonstrating why you shouldn't be doing it, but you'll never consider that. It's much easier to just be arrogantly superior, no matter how thoughtless it makes you look.

Like how you're blaming the NEA for the actions of a corrupt administration that sought to fudge test results in order to make itself look better. Yes, it's test-results, not grades, grades leaves an ambiguity that it was teacher's class room scores, which it was not.

No surprise there though. Really, you just compounded the error with your claim here, blaming the NEA when the NEA is adamantly opposed to such tests. If you want to blame somebody, look at someone like Michelle Rhee instead. Several of the principals in Atlanta who drove the scandal were probably disciples of hers. The superintendent, Beverly Hall who ran the schools was hardly a union stalwart, the district is not unionized.

Check this report:

Or not, it's not as if you needed any facts, you can just blame your convenient scapegoats.

Anyway, I was thinking of this editorial, and I have to say the conclusion is somewhat in error, since there is a modern Andy Griffith Show around. Eureka. I don't know that the sheriff goes unarmed, but it's a show similar in spirit.

July 10, 2012 at 3:04 a.m.
Leaf said...

I'll have to check out the show Eureka.

I can see both sides of the guns in parking lot issue, but after giving it some thought, I'm against the NRA on this one. The school, hospital, business or whatever owns the parking lot. It should be their right to disallow guns if they see fit. Would you want a law that forces you to allow your neighbors to bring guns into your yard? All other things being equal, it is always better to NOT make a law.

July 10, 2012 at 9:33 a.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Sir, you and your liberal elitest type are the primary cause of this nations problems today, why doesn't the TFP find someone with an oposing point of view to chime in?

July 10, 2012 at 10:08 a.m.
LaughingBoy said...

Leaf those with the intent to do harm with guns will not pay attention to laws on where they should and shouldn't bring a gun.

Bulbs you're right those teachers and administrators probably did not want accountability for what is and isn't learned in their classrooms. Their actions still demonstrate lack of authority and accountability for which the NEA is known.

Are you going to give your thoughts on the 60 percent rate, ever, or will you continue to duck it. You're the one who wrote my opinion on it was invalid, why?

July 10, 2012 at 1:21 p.m.
Walden said...

The main reason it wouldn't survive on TV today is because Thelma Lou Beasley and Helen Crump aren't walking around the set half nude with huge fake boobs; Gomer and Goober Pyle aren't gay; Opie isn't a reprobate brat; Andy isn't divorced (Opie's mom died leaving Andy a widower); Barney Fife isn't a meth-head (despite looking and acting like one half the time); and Howard Sprague isn't carrying on an elicit secretive affair with Aunt Bea. Other than that, I think it would do fine in today's TV market.

July 10, 2012 at 2:27 p.m.

Leaf, it's a fine show. A bit uneven at times, but worth watching on the whole.

Ordinaryguy, the more you try that tactic, the more you show us what you care about. It's not fixing anything, or making this country better. Just making sure somebody else is to blame.

LaughingBoy, no it was the principals who primarily decided to fudge the results showing that all of the exertion for so-called accountability ultimately leads to somebody more concerned with what they can get out of it. This is why it's being sold to you as something important when it's really just driving dollars away from students and into corporate bank accounts. You just don't notice the con-job you're getting. Keep scapegoating the NEA as the schools go down the drain.

Your willful blindness is more and more apparent. Or maybe you actually believe the swill you're selling is a miracle tonic.

Walden, for the time, those women were being sold on their attractiveness, and Anfy's widowhood was how they arranged it. Not to mention avoided the issue of a married couple. They pandered as much as they could.

July 10, 2012 at 3:35 p.m.
Leaf said...

Laughing boy said: Leaf those with the intent to do harm with guns will not pay attention to laws on where they should and shouldn't bring a gun.

Premeditated murder is one thing, but a lot of bad situations would be prevented if there weren't one handy. Like the 70 year old on the front page of this paper who just got arrested for waving a gun around a fast food restaurant. He got upset inside, went to his car, and got his gun. Would this have happened if he had more time to cool down? I bet you would be hard pressed to find an HR department in a company that would want their employees keeping guns in their car.

July 10, 2012 at 5:15 p.m.

Homer Simpson:

July 10, 2012 at 5:29 p.m.
Fendrel said...

The fact that criminals are unlikely to heed laws designed to prevent them from carrying guns, shouldn't mean that everyone else should now be allowed to. I mean really? Last year there were 23 cases of crazed individuals who sought to rob local stores with an ax...should we all be allowed to carry an ax into the local 7-11 store now?

The real question is, given the fact that guns are responsible for many accidental deaths every year, why in the world would a sane individual WANT to adopt laws allowing anyone who wants to, to carry a gun? It simply does not make any sense.

I can see how hunting can be enjoyable, I've hunted in the past although I doubt those ground squirrels are quivering in fear. But I would think that a reasonable person would be more than willing to give up a right or privilege if it meant that accidental deaths could be prevented.

The number of accidental injuries that occur each year far outweigh the number of times a gun was needed and used for self-defense by people other than officers of the law.

July 10, 2012 at 6:58 p.m.
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