December 28, 2016 by kittynh
On March 21, 1980 a man was shot and that shot was indeed heard around the world. This
attempted murder sparked a world wide debate ,that even included the UK Royal family. Everyone waited with bated breath, and much media coverage and water cooler detective work took place, as everyone wanted to know:
JR was JR Ewing, the bombastic ego driven and amoral head of a fictional Texas oil dynasty. The TV show “Dallas” was the show everyone watched, before there were innumerable cable and internet choices. JR was shot, and for 8 months the world had to wait, and debate, who done it.
Ratings of of the program actually entitled “Who Done It?” were the highest ever recorded in Neilsen ratings. Only many years later did “Who Done It?” lose the title of “Most watched show”.
The TV show “Dallas” is still synonymous in memory with the character JR Ewing, as portrayed by actor Larry Hagman. But Hagman was not meant to be the star of the show. The original star was supposed to be Pamela Ewing, the outsider that marries into the exclusive and rich oil family. As the nice normal woman, her character was the focus of many of JR’s tricks and schemes. The writers thought that the story of the David and Goliath would interest viewers, with everyone pulling for Pam to succeed.
Instead, everyone fell in love with Goliath.
JR was an over the top bad guy, but everyone enjoyed his character. Hagman had to go on strike to receive the higher wages he deserved, and he took over as the true star of the show. “Dallas” came to represent the USA to nations all over the world. The greed, the over spending, the dirty dealing and the big cowboy hats for the men and shoulder pads for the women, personified the stereotype of the 1908’s perfectly.
While the original writers of “Dallas” were surprised at the success of JR, they were also delighted as ratings went up and up.
Another group also miscalculated about the appeal of JR, and they paid the price with their lives.
Nicolae Ceauescu was the brutal leader of the nation of Romania. Ceauescu allowed only one Western television show to be aired in Romania. His poor and fatal choice for that one show was “Dallas”. The attempt to show how decadent and corrupt Western society was, especially the United States, failed as much as the early writers attempts to make the character of Pamela Ewing the star.
Romania fell in love with Larry Hagman and the fictional JR.
They fell out of love with their leaders, and as time passes more and more historians give credence to the belief that the TV show “Dallas” ,and the character of JR in particular, hastened the end of Ceauescu’s and Communisms reign.
A Romanian couple produced a documentary about the influence of the show on the people of Romania entitled “Hotel Dallas”. Sherng-Lee Huang, one of the producers of the documentary felt this way about the influence of “Dallas” on Romania:
“If you look at the brand of corrupt crony capitalism embodied by J.R. in the show, it’s very much the kind of capitalism running things in Romanian now,” he says. “So the legacy of Dallas is a complicated thing.”
The problem with “Dallas” is that the bad guy wins, only JR is not a real human being. He’s over the top and just proud of who he is, but that is as portrayed by the actor Larry Hagman.
People liked JR because they wanted to be JR. Powerful and rich, or at least as they imagined power and rich. They wanted his lifestyle. There was a feeling anyone successful needs to behave in a crooked way, and that good is rarely rewarded.
He was a stereotype people in Romania liked. They wanted the shoulder pads and cowboy hat and opulence, that in Communist Romania they had no chance of achieving. Now Romania is a nation where some people indeed live the JR lifestyle. But, like the show “Dallas”, very few attain such a luxurious way of life. Also if you do succeed in living such a life, someone is probably gunning for you. With success comes danger.
Donald Trump reminds a lot of us of JR Ewing. I am sure Trump is a big fan. Trump also represents a lifestyle that isn’t real, but many people still aspire to.
Many rich people live like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. They make donations and try to
protect their children from the spotlight. The old fashioned notion of noblesse oblige is alive and well with these very wealthy men. A sense that great wealth and power brings great responsibility is not something the Trump family appears to believe.
Just like JR with Trump it is all about family. Or rather, you can only trust family and maybe then not all the time. All the guessing about “Who shot JR?” included cast family members. It was a real mystery ,as just about anyone on the show had a motive for shooting him. Being liked is a problem for these successful stereotype tycoons. They don’t really care, because in the end, it’s all about the private jet.
Trump voters want many things. But most of all, many of them want to be Trump.
They want to have the opportunity to “live like he does.” But like the TV show “Dallas” much of Trump is “all flash”. His homes look like sets off some odd sitcom, where “this is where wealthy people live.”
The days of Michelle Obama showing up to garden with children wearing jeans and a sweater from Target are over. “Dallas” has moved to the White House. Success is a matter of doing whatever it takes, and being a “good old boy”. Trump is a hero to people that just don’t understand he’s not reflecting the reality of most successful businessmen.
Much like the early writers and producers of the show “Dallas” and the leader of Romania, a lot of us can’t believe the popularity of Trump. If ,like Romania, the United States finds out that what worked in business for Trump will not work for running a nation, what happens?
In Romania, the result has been some success and wealth, but only for the few and the bold. Corruption should not be the only path to success.
I hope no one shoots Trump, but I think his Presidency will engender as much talk as “Who Shot JR?”. Even Trump fans assure each other “He really did not meant that.” over and over. We like Trump, the stereotype, but will we like Trump the leader?
Do we all really want the “opportunity” to live like Trump? Or, will the average citizen find ,in four years, they are tired of the act and cancel the Trump show at the voting booth?