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Americas TV Role Model What America needs is a family like The Waltons not families like The Simpsons - at least according to President George Bush A strange remark given that one does not normally expect the President of the United States to pass judgments on television dramas like The Waltons let along cartoon shows like The Simpsons The producers of The Simpsons were quick to respond by making Bart Simpson remark that the Simpson family was really just like the Waltons family - waiting for the end of the depression The Waltons were an imaginary rural family waiting for the 30s depression to end while The Simpsons are a postmodern family of today Both belong to the curious history of the American TV family A history so central to the past present and future of American culture that no one - not even Presidential candidates can afford to ignore it Before radio and television the family home was a space that could function in relative seclusion from public life In the advice manuals of Victorian times the ideal middle class home was one that sheltered women and children from the evil influences of the public sphere The virtues of thrift and self-improvement - the sort of values Bush associates with the Waltons - were a 19th century notion of the good life In this vision of the family men worked in the outside world and had the final say at home women were to be protected from the outside world but managed the day-to-day business of the home and the raising of the children Of course things were not like that for many people but this was the ideal that the home manuals proscribed Every good middle class Victorian home aspired to have a piano and women were supposed to learn to play it teach the children to play it also The piano was
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