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What I learned from playing the bigot character of Archie Bunker

By Todd Liles May 28, 2014 What I learned from playing the bigot character of Archie Bunker
Todd Liles playing Archie Bunker

I’m part of a drama team at our church. Periodically, I get asked to play some funny character. I’m not sure why I get asked to play the funny characters.  I think I’m pretty handsome, and should be taken seriously!

Despite what I think, Julia (Peggy Bundy) loves to dress me up. This time I got to play the infamous bigot Archie Bunker from the TV show “All in the Family.”

Archie Bunker was a new character to me. I didn’t grow up watching this TV show, and I had to do some research. One of the first videos I watched was the one where Archie meets Sammy Davis Junior.  This has got to be one of the funniest of all television scenes.   The scene perfectly laid out the character of Archie Bunker.   It also made me realize that I was in for quite an experience!

Archie Bunker can be described in the following words:

  •  Hard-working
  •  Veteran
  •  Husband
  •  Father
  •  Tactless
  •  Angry
  •  Nostalgic
  •  Begrudgingly generous
  •  Bigot

Archie is a textbook bigot.

Bigot: “having or revealing an obstinate belief in the superiority of one’s own opinions and a prejudiced intolerance of the opinions of others.”

In today’s society, most people don’t tolerate bigots.  So,

“What lesson did I learn from playing the bigot Archie Bunker?

  1. It’s really easy be a bigot.
  2. There is danger in being a bigot.
  3. Love and understanding is lost to the bigot.

Beliefs are core to who we are. They shape us, and they help us make decisions. I’d say those things are positive.

However, when your belief system keeps you from seeing things differently?  You run the risk of becoming a bigot yourself.

At its heart, “All in the Family” is about a man on the journey of seeing things differently.   The world around Archie Bunker was changing, and his struggle to change with it was what made the show so powerful.

Question:  What belief system are you struggling to change?

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