NEWS: While the TV Land cable channel has pulled The Dukes of Hazzard from their lineup, the show itself has not been “banned from television.”
Amid the ongoing national debate in America over the display of the Confederate flag, the TV Land cable/satellite channel confirmed they would no longer be airing reruns of the 1980s television series The Dukes of Hazzard — a show about the the adventures of cousins Bo Duke and Luke Duke, who live on a family farm in fictional Hazzard County, Georgia, and drive around in a customized Dodge Charger called the “General Lee” that bears an image of a Confederate flag on its roof.
Separately, retailers including Amazon.com and Walmart announced individual decisions to discontinue the sale of the Confederate flags and related merchandise (incorrectly described some rumors to be the result of a government mandate). Many consumers were left believing that the Confederate flag had now been “banned” in the retail and entertainment worlds, rather than being the focus of individual retailer and broadcaster decisions to discontinue its sale or display.
On 1 July 2015, obtained ABC News confirmation from TV Land that the The Dukes of Hazzard had been “removed” from the channel’s schedule, adding that the network did not issue a statement about the decision:
A week after Warner Bros. announced it would no longer sanction the manufacturing of “Dukes of Hazzard” merchandise featuring the flag, TV Land announced it’s pulling reruns of the 1980s’ TV series featuring John Schneider and Tom Wopat as Bo and Luke Duke in fictional Hazzard County, Georgia.
In a statement to ABC News, the network confirmed that the show had been “removed” from its schedule, while declining to comment further.
On 23 June 2015, Ben Jones (who depicted mechanic Cooter Davenport on the show) published a statement to Facebook to protest recent policies targeting the Confederate flag:
I THINK ALL OF HAZZARD NATION UNDERSTANDS THAT THE CONFEDERATE BATTLE FLAG IS THE SYMBOL THAT REPRESENTS THE INDOMITABLE SPIRIT OF INDEPENDENCE WHICH KEEPS US “MAKIN’ OUR WAY THE ONLY WAY WE KNOW HOW.”
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 VILLIFYING 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.
Dukes of Hazzard creator Gy Waldron said in a 2001 documentary that the use of the Confederate flag in the show was “done very innocently”:
“Painting the Confederate flag on the roof of the car was done very innocently, because in the ’50s and ’60s it was very common to find Confederate flags painted on cars. There was never a political statement to be made by it. It was just part of the tradition. And once we had put it in there I saw no reason to bow to any pressure groups. We’re not making any statement regarding slavery or post-slavery or integration or anything like that.”
John Schneider, who played Bo Duke in the show, said in that same documentary that “It amazes me that anyone could take offense to the General Lee. If there was ever a non-racist family, it was the Dukes of Hazzard.”
Schneider told the Hollywood Reporter in July 2015 that:
“The Dukes of Hazzard was and is no more a show seated in racism than Breaking Bad was a show seated in reality,” Schneider [said].
Schneider says his residuals from the show “have never been much to write home about,” but he would like the show to persist because of the old-fashioned values it promotes, such as honesty, courage, chivalry, rebelliousness and the like. Those who seek to malign the show because the famous car it featured had a Confederate flag painted on the roof are missing the point, he says.
“I am saddened that one angry and misguided individual can cause one of the most beloved television shows in the history of the medium to suddenly be seen in this light,” Schneider said. “Are people who grew up watching the show now suddenly racists? Will they have to go through a detox and a 12-step program to kick their Dukes habit? ‘Hi… My name is John. I’m a Dukesoholic.’”
As of 1 July 2015, The Dukes of Hazzard remained on the schedule of the CMT cable/satellite channel.