‘Dukes of Hazzard’ Stars John Schneider, Tom Wopat Defend the General Lee: ‘The Car Is Innocent’
The General Lee was the ’69 Dodge Charger with the image of the Confederate flag emblazoned on the roof on the iconic show. The car played a crucial part in nearly every plotline that the show portrayed while it aired from 1979 to 1985, which often involved car chases and spectacular car jumps.
But then the country changed, and now the Confederate flag does not symbolize all things Southern, but serves as a slavery-era symbol of hate for many.
“The situation in the country has obviously changed in the last 40 years,” actor Tom Wopat, who portrayed Luke Duke on the long-running series, tells the Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview. “I feel fortunate to be living in a time when we can address some of the injustices of the past. But the car is innocent."
"I have never had an African American come up to me and have any problem with it whatsoever," adds John Schneider, who played the role of Bo Duke. He goes on to say that "the whole politically correct generation has gotten way out of hand."
Amazon recently revealed it was considering taking the show off its IMDb streaming service due to the ongoing Confederate flag controversy, and the show is not currently available via Amazon Prime.
“Dukes of Hazzard was a unifying force," Schneider states. "Mom, grandma, everyone wanted to watch it together. But who benefits from division? The Dukes of Hazzard has been shot down, I believe unfairly. We haven’t missed a generation yet, but we may miss this next one."
Warner Bros., which owns the merchandising rights to The Dukes of Hazzard, stopped sales of merchandise bearing the Confederate flag in 2015 after a mass shooting that took place at a church in Charleston, S.C. The 21-year-old shooter reportedly said he was there specifically to "shoot black people," and images turned up online of him with the Confederate flag, re-igniting the long-running debate over its place in American culture.
The latest round in that debate has flared up in the wake of the recent deaths of George Floyd and other unarmed Black men and women at the hands of police, and the protests that have swept the country afterward.
Most recently, NASCAR announced on June 10 that it would ban the Confederate flag from being displayed at its races moving forward.
See the Cast of The Dukes of Hazzard Then and Now: