Those Duke boys may be the latest to suffer consequences from a backlash against the Confederate flag as TV Land has yanked “The Dukes of Hazzard” from its schedule.
The cable network made the move this week without comment, but many media outlets – including the Associated Press, USA Today, Fox News and The Los Angeles Times – have made the obvious inference that the cancelation is a direct reaction to the uproar over the flag, a debate that ignited after the June 17 murder of nine African-Americans at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.
Last week Warner Bros., which produced the series, halted production of toy replicas of The General Lee, the 1969 Dodge Charger car driven by Luke and Bo Duke in the series, because the “Dixie”-playing car features a Confederate flag painted on its roof. Meanwhile, retailers including Amazon and Walmart have recently dropped selling merchandise featuring reproductions of the flag.
The 2005 Warner-Bros.-produced “Dukes of Hazzard” movie, which starred Seann William Scott and South Knoxville’s own Johnny Knoxville as cousins Bo and Luke Duke, also featured a Confederate-flag-emblazoned General Lee.
“The Dukes of Hazzard” show, which relied on an exaggerated stereotype of a subset of Southern culture for comic effect, aired on CBS from 1979 to 1985.
Actor Ben Jones, who played Cooter Davenport on the show, owns a chain of “Dukes”-themed Cooter’s Place stores – including one in Gatlinburg – featuring “all things Hazzard” merchandise, including Confederate flags and related memorabilia.
And Jones is pushing back against the Confederate flag’s detractors.
On Facebook he posted, “That flag on top of the General Lee made a statement that the values of the rural South were the values of courage and family and good times. Our beloved symbol is now being attacked in a wave of political correctness that is unprecedented in our nation of free speech and free expression. Activists and politicians are vilifying Southern culture and our heritage as being bigoted and racist. We know that this is not the case. And we know that in Hazzard County there was never any racism.”
Jones’ comments have drawn derision, such as this sarcastic observation from The AV Club: “if ‘Cooter’ says it, then it must be true.”