Monday, June 27, 2016

The Touch Heard Around the World

Whenever politicians or pundits talk about returning to "the good old days", one often tries to determine what they mean. While they may be merely expressing a fondness for the good things that happened way back when, there's often a suspicion that they are secretly expressing a desire to return to a time when a woman gently touching a man was a huge controversy. In 1968, British singer Petula Clark was taking the world by storm. She was so popular that NBC chose to give her an hour long special.


In a show sponsored by Chrysler, Petula would sing her hits with a few friends including black singer Harry Belafonte. The duo planned to sing an anti-war duet, though that would not be the big controversy that arose from this show. You see, at the end of the song, Petula walked up to Harry and touched his arm.


Surely they must have done something else, right? Unfortunately, no. A white woman touching a black man in an innocent manner was enough to stir up controversy. A VP at Chrysler ordered NBC to cut the scene out. Petula's contract, however, gave her full control over the show. She refused to edit the song, even just for the southern states. NBC and Chrysler eventually gave in. The show aired with the scene intact and Chrysler fired the VP. Today it might seem like a petty thing to get upset about. In "the good old days", however, it was a huge controversy.