Well, only a few short hours ago I was writing about the constitutional freedoms that US citizens enjoy and the appeal American writers like Pulitzer Prize winner Marc Connelly made to 1940s radio listeners of the The Free Company (and “The Mole on Lincoln’s Cheek” in particular) to cherish and defend such liberties. I guess this includes the freedom to sever one’s connections to anyone we realize to be incompatible or determine to be objectionable, regardless of any interests or passions we might otherwise share. Now, I don’t wish to make a Brokeback Mountain out of a molehill; but I have to confess that I am rather dismayed at the length one of my former readers went through to disassociate himself from my ramblings, sentiments he previously appreciated and endorsed. Allow me to expound.
I am always eager to read about and hear from others who, like me, are interested in early-to-mid 20th-century American popular culture; they need not be like me in other respects or feel themselves to be other, like me. Now that I am outside the academy and live somewhat remotely, I am thrilled to communicate with those who are drawn to the neglected yet fertile fields of silent movies, pre-code Hollywood, and old-time radio. As may have become clear to the few who visit this site with some regularity, I am neither nostalgic nor flippant (or camp) in my approach to such marginalized topics. Nor am I a historian. The chief reason for keeping this journal is to share what I think matters to a few, regardless of how immaterial it may be to the many. Just who are these few, I sometimes wonder. And sometimes I get an answer that is disheartening if not, upon reflection, entirely uncommon.
Yesterday, I decided to add another online journal to my short list of links (see right). On said blog, I had left a comment about the sorry state of many old-time radio recordings, a remark that was kindly and publicly acknowledged, and received one in return regarding the career of actress Lurene Tuttle.
Pleased to have come across another old-time radiophile (I dislike lazy acronyms and refuse to stoop to letter combinations like OTR), I sent a message to the Tuttle expert, inviting him to be linked on my page. The response so startled me that I decided to drop today’s feature—much to my regret of disappointing an admirer of screen legend Kay Francis —and write instead about this sad case of blogophobia, the fear of being linked to and associated with someone as repulsive as myself.
I assure you, this is not a case of a bruised ego. I always assumed the most repellent aspect of broadcastellan to be its syntax and diction, its subject being merely inconsequential to most. It turns out, however, that the invitation was rejected as a direct response to . . . my blogroll. According to the e-missive sent to me, one of the sites listed on the right is so offensive that said Tuttle-tale decided not only to refuse the link, but to erase the two comments I had left on his blog, even if doing so meant having to delete the posts to which they were attached—one of which journal entries having welcomed my “intelligent” remarks (about Vic and Sade) and greeting me as the first reader to leave a response. However obliging, I won’t go so far as to delete my essay about Ms. Tuttle in order to assist in this erasure, an obliterating not only of the former association but of the prejudice behind its severance.
What has this to do with Ellery Queen, apart from the double entendre intended? Well, even during the McCarthy era, in which small-mindedness reached its peak in the US, programs like The Adventures of Ellery Queen encouraged listeners to be open and embracing of those whose constitutionally protected beliefs, creeds, and pursuits of happiness differed from their own. Here, for instance, is the message attached to “One Diamond,” first heard on The Adventures of Ellery Queen on 6 May 1948:
This is Ellery Queen, saying goodnight ’till next week, and enlisting all Americans every night and every day in the fight against bad citizenship, bigotry, and discrimination—the crimes which are weakening America.
Should you find this message offensive and the people I chose to include in my blogroll abhorrent, I ask you—kindly but resolutely—to turn away and dives yourself of any associations with broadcastellan you might have sought or tolerated until now.