This past week I had two interesting experiences. First – it was the 100 year anniversary of the birth of Clayton Moore – who played “The Lone Ranger” on television. The series originally aired on ABC from 1949-1957, and was the highest-rated television program on the network in the early 1950s and its first true “hit”. As a kid, I watched it as re-runs, and it was one of my favorite shows. As you may remember, The Lone Ranger lived by a code, and as a kid, I knew the code by heart. Last week, during the news reports of the anniversary, his daughter, Dawn Moore said something remarkable:
“Thirteen years after my father’s passing, I continue to receive fan letters — not just from the United States, but from all over the world. The letters come from policemen, firemen and teachers who say they chose a life of protecting others wanting to emulate the example my father set — not just as an actor, but as a man. What’s his legacy? That he inspired and continues to inspire the notion of offering assistance without seeking acknowledgement or fame. To come to the aid of someone in need. Pretty powerful stuff.”
Second story – On Thursday I spoke at the Long Beach Leadership Prayer Breakfast in Long Beach, California. The audience of about 400 was filled with civic leaders, professionals, pastors, business, and ministry leaders, and law enforcement officials. After my talk, a senior police officer and I spent a few minutes together. He said that he grew up in East LA – a place where cops weren’t welcome. Growing up, he never heard anything good said about the police and as a result, distrusted them completely. But he watched TV, and a favorite program was “Adam 12.” He wondered: “Why aren’t the cops around here like that?” He couldn’t get that thought out of his mind. Then one day he attended a job fair, and met an LA police officer who talked with him, and encouraged him to become a teenage volunteer on the force. That was almost 30 years ago. Today he’s a respected leader in the Long Beach Police Department, and he said his career all started watching “Adam 12” on TV.
Those two stories made me think – with a current television schedule filled with vampires, corrupt cops, hypocritical politicians, fathers who act like buffoons, soft-core porn, growing levels of violence, and more – who’s producing programs that will do for this generation of kids the same thing that The Lone Ranger and Adam 12 did for the last? Sure those old shows may be corny by our standards today, but that doesn’t mean the same vision, ideals, and principles couldn’t be celebrated with contemporary storytelling.
Television and movies are more powerful that we can imagine. Creators, writers, and producers – in our efforts to be cutting edge, show reality, make a political statement, or push the boundaries, let’s not forget the impact we could have simply by creating an example.
There’s a lot of kids out there watching and waiting….