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Controversy Regarding “M.A.S.H.” Humor Revisited Essay

1097 words - 5 pages

In the early seventies and into the early eighties there was a storied and sometimes highly controversial television series called “M.A.S.H” which stood for “Mobile Army Surgical Hospital”. The series was a follow on to the wildly successful movie by the same name. In both cases the story revolved around a group of Doctors and Nurses and supporting cast who operated a forward field hospital in Korea during the Korean War, the 4077 MASH. The characters were lovable, laughable, affable and endearing to viewers. However, the show was not without its recurring controversy. Everything from Anti-War sentiment to adultery to alcoholism were broached during its run on national television. One ...view middle of the document...

A single man, Hawkeye always had his eye on the Nurses and took comfort in maintaining some semblance of home in his every action. He preferred wit to brawn when it came to subduing his enemies and was the epitomic conscientious objector. In this way we truly recognize his internal strength.
As cohort to Hawkeye, there is Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt MD played by Mike Ferrell. He and Hawkeye were the pranksters and jokesters of the entire unit and could be counted on to provide the comic relief in any intense situation. B.J. was married to Peg back in the United States and took his home life and commitment back home very serious. As with Hawkeye, B.J. used humor as a coping mechanism to cope with the horrors of war and the never-ending parade of casualties through the surgical suite. Just as Hawkeye felt, B.J. also maintained wit over brawn when it came to his enemies.
Charles Emerson Winchester, a surgeon who had a residency at Boston General when the war entered his life was from a privileged background where “order” was the necessary mechanism of coping in his world. Played by David Ogden Stiers, Winchester was a chronic target of Hawkeye and B.J. pranks and jokes. Charles took the digs as a true aristocrat might have and even managed through the course of the series to land a few of his own jabs albeit later in the series. We find too, that Charles was not immune to using humor to cope in this environment.
Then there is the strict and stern but lovable Margaret Houlihan (Hot Lips), played by Loretta Swit. Through the series we find that Margaret, while being a stern career army brat, has a heart of gold and is not immune to the comic relief in order to cope with the day to day atrocities she faces as the head nurse. There are times when Margaret acts as though Pierce and Hunnicutt are the world’s biggest embarrassment because of their blasé position on the war, but in the end, it is found that she shares much of the same belief and finds comfort in the friendships of each of these pranksters as well as partaking of the opportune prank herself....

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