Fawlty Towers, And Things Being Of Their Time

Every time we try to pull down a statue or sweep a TV show into the dustbin of history, a certain argument comes out: It was of its time. Everything seems to have been created in a kind of nebulous long ago when things were different. Things were not like they are now. They took down an episode of Fawlty Towers, a Great British Institution, and for those who care about Its Time, this was a Major problem. But why? The time of Fawlty Towers was not a time of such abject racist disgrace that anyone could be forgiven for making a racist joke. It was just the seventies. Surely, though, earlier times were different, right?

We're discussing pulling down a statue of an anti-Abolitionist here in Scotland, and a straight up slavery advocate in Derry. And sure enough, people are terrified of enacting change, as if the statues we have in our streets are immutable fixed points in history, unchangeable forever. Gone With The Wind was of its time, and needs a virtual plaque to save it. 

But no. As it turns out, Gone With The Wind was made in the twentieth century, when racism was well understood, and black culture was celebrated, at least by some. Dundas lived in the time of Abolition, and John Mitchel came after Daniel O'Connell in Irish history. Look carefully at history. The "of their time" brigade might not like seeing what the reality of the times they mourn the passing of really was. Humanity, aa in the understanding of the humanity of others, has been around for longer than they might like to think.

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Ev Buckley