Kimmel takes a note from Smothers Brothers
The influence of televisions: the 60s and today
American families have been gathering around televisions sets since the 1930s. This was especially true in the 1960s when television became colorized. Even now, in 2017, television is important in American households and lives.
Television was hugely popularized in the 60s. Still amazed by the technology, Americans sat with their eyes fixed on the screen to watch whatever was playing. Stations mostly showed cop shows, variety shows, westerns, and talk shows. These talk shows became particularly popular as viewers could see their favorite actors and comedians out of character on television.
One especially popular variety show was the Smother Brothers Comedy Hour. The two brothers, Thomas and Richard Smothers, played songs and acted in skits they wrote themselves. Audiences and producers took notice of the show when the brothers started to address hot button issues. In effect, the other writers started to cut out and censor parts of the show to keep it neutral and family-friendly. Still determined to have their voices heard, the brothers eventually had their show cancelled after talking out against the Vietnam war on live television.
Today, television still dominates America. The average American household contains 2.93 televisions. Much like the 60s, television is still the main platform for news, and still boasts many popular talk shows. Today, talk show hosts still receive backlash from voicing their opinions. Rarely do they abandon the normal formula of the show, but when they do, it sees lot of controversy.
One popular talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel, host of Jimmy Kimmel Live, has spoken out on serious issues in two recent occasions. First, on healthcare after the birth of his son. His son was born with a heart defect and needed expensive medical procedures performed to save his life. Following this, Kimmel took to his soapbox and used this opportunity to raise awareness for cases like his sons. He was grateful his wealth allowed his son to live, but raised concerns that other families may not have the same opportunity. He used this logic to explain why he has his stake in healthcare, and why regardless of opinion, his audience should as well. His address was truthful and heartwarming and broke the normal mold of late night talk shows.
Kimmel also set aside his normal act once again after the tragic massacre this past month in Las Vegas. He took a more serious tone and called out against guns, saying no person should need assault rifles. This gained Kimmel lots of backlash and hate from fans who did not share his opinion.
In this way, talk show hosts today play as important a role as the Smothers Brothers and others did in the 60s. Even with today’s rush to streaming media and online content, talk show hosts have an important influence on Americans’ lives. Jimmy Kimmel, among many others, is using his position and influence to try to advocate good in Americans, much like the Thomas and Richard Smothers did in the 60s.