I remember “Dallas” from the old days. I was a newspaper reporter and editor and freelance writer, a teacher of writing at the local university and a single mom. Thank-god-it’s-Friday-night often meant pizza, a few friends, feet up on the coffee table, and “Dallas” — a diverting confection that I likened to a good boxing match. We cheered for the good guys and guffawed at the meanies when they (occasionally) got their comeuppance. My happy memories of Friday-night “Dallas” persist to this day.
After 20 years “Dallas” is back. To reinforce this point I see J.R.’s face staring up at me on my doorstep. He’s featured above the fold in this morning’s New York Times and it so happens that The Arts section, not the front page, was on top. Hello Larry Hagman!
My “Dallas” morning continues, though not nearly so happily, when I step out of the shower mere minutes after fetching my paper. I catch a feature on this morning’s Morning Edition on NPR that turns my stomach.
The upshot of the piece is that the new “Dallas” might, like “Murder, She Wrote,” be aimed at a target market that is not known to be a big spender. The spenders are much younger. The two reporters agree that “Murder, She Wrote,” while an award-winning show, was imperiled by its demographic handicap. And J.R. at — gasp — 80, is a liability that sounds a death knell. No problem, jokes one of the reporters. “Dallas” is known for its gunplay, after all. Bobby, J.R. and Sue Ellen are surely not long for this world. Kill those suckers off and give the show to the spenders. This gleeful remark is meant to be a prediction of plots to come in the very near future.
That’s right. Kill off the oldsters so “Dallas” has a fighting chance.
Capitalism in its meanest hour, with NPR stoking the fires of ageism. NPR also propagates a grossly simplistic, cynical and inaccurate premise — that business must invest all its resources where the biggest potential exists at the expense of other, perhaps lesser, but clearly lucrative markets. This is how movies are made, targeted as so many are to the 18–34-year-old male. And we wonder why the movie business is tanking.
“Murder, She Wrote” ran for 12 seasons, and, according to a quick check on Wikipedia, it was one of the most successful and longest-running television shows in history with close to 24 million viewers. Not only are the reporters on NPR inappropriate, they mislead their listeners by making it seem as if “Murder, She Wrote” was an abysmal failure at gaining and holding an audience. It was an international favorite with a long and healthy life.
It’s the unabashed ageism that makes this NPR segment on “Dallas” target markets so vile. The reporters mock the type of products “Dallas” will have to sell to support it — life insurance and denture cream are their suggestions, which they make laughingly.
“Dallas” is not nearly in as much trouble as NPR is. That a news segment like this plays to the very target market who supports it with their shrinking dollars is appalling. NPR has lost its ability to research a story properly, has succumbed to cheap ageist shots, and has wasted valuable member contributions on a story that is mean, ignorant and inaccurate. It’s a permanent stain on their ethics and veracity.
Instead of switching off “Dallas” because it features older folks, I suggest you switch off NPR. They have insulted a sizable percentage of their supporters and they are too stupid to even realize it.