The former stars of “The Dukes of Hazzard,” which depicted the adventures of two “good ol’ boys” defying corrupt cops in a fictionalized Georgia county, have offered their take on the show’s prominent usage of the Confederate flag.
John Schneider and Tom Wopat, who played Bo and Luke Duke, respectively, from 1979 to 1985, told The Hollywood Reporter that the show’s famous car — a customized 1969 Dodge Charger that was called “General Lee” and had a Confederate flag on its roof — was not necessarily an issue.
“I have never had an African American come up to me and have any problem with it whatsoever,” said John Schneider, 60, adding that the “politically correct generation has gotten way out of hand.”
“‘Dukes of Hazzard’ was a unifying force,” Schneider said. “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.”
Schneider has expressed similar views in the past, most notably on his YouTube channel. He has created videos challenging viewers to engage in “tough questions” on whether “The Dukes of Hazzard” was “a racially charged show,” decried division within the United States and criticized COVID-19 restrictions. Schneider has also brought up the topic of Black Confederate soldiers who “enlist[ed] willingly, heroically and nobly to the South” on his channel — something the American Civil War Museum has called a myth.
Wopat, 68, offered a more nuanced response to the controversy, acknowledging that “the situation in the country has obviously changed in the last 40 years.”
“I feel fortunate to be living in a time when we can address some of the injustices of the past,” Wopat said. “But the car is innocent.”
Gy Waldron, the 87-year-old creator of “The Dukes of Hazzard,” argued that he “had relatives fight on both sides of the Civil War and [they] honored both the American and Confederate flags.”
“No one even connected the Confederate flag with slavery,” Waldron told The Hollywood Reporter. “It was simply a part of our Southern culture.”
Historians have spoken out against separating the Confederate flag and the government it represented from the slave trade, pointing out that seceding states specifically mentioned a desire to break from a president “whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery.”
The prominent usage of the Confederate flag on “The “Dukes of Hazzard” was also criticized in 2015. Reruns stopped airing and Warner Bros. announced it would no longer license images of “General Lee” after white supremacist Dylann Roof — who had posed in photos alongside Confederate imagery — killed nine Black church members in South Carolina.
The show has since reemerged on Amazon’s Prime Video and IMDb TV streaming services, but its future on the platforms is reportedly under review.
Other TV shows and movies referencing the Confederacy have received similar scrutiny in the wake of protests against racial injustice and police brutality. “Gone With The Wind,” for instance, was temporarily pulled from HBO Max and later returned to the service with a disclaimer.
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