(Editor's note: Dennis Wyatt is on vacation. This column appeared in March of 2011.)
Roy Rogers was the good guy who wore the white hat.
A gentleman at all times, the singing cowboy dispatched bad guys in 87 westerns by shooting the gun out of their hands. Rogers always fought fair and never killed a man.
The power structure in Hollywood put guys like Rogers out to pasture years ago.
They're convinced the American public wants sex, gore, and killings.
Producers contend they're just being realistic.
There are more Roy Rogers out there on the fruited plains than there ever will be of the cesspool creatures that kill, rape and spread mayhem across the big screen today.
Rogers depicted real American values - family, fairness, decency and straight-forward thinking.
Hollywood is the one missing the boat. Expert after expert droned on about how "Titanic" was going to be a colossal flop, that it was too deep rooted in "goodness."
The movie-going audience that sent other box office records plunging to the bottom by flocking to the "Titanic" was cut from the same cloth that made "Gone With the Wind" the standard of excellence over 50 years prior.
They're the same ones raised on the likes of Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger and their modern-day counterparts.
The fascination with gore and the underbelly of society is a Hollywood and mass media fixation. No one is going to debate that cheap thrills sell. It is easy to capture the attention of a TV news audience by filling it with 10 quick 30-second snippets of murder, sexual titillations, traffic fatalities and tales of child molestation. That's why most news programs lead off with such rat-a-tat reports of mayhem.
People are drawn to such bad news much as a rat is to sweet chemical-laced food in a lab test.
Eventually, the rat will consume enough poison forced into its stomachs by research scientists that it'll develop cancer or assume some irrational behavior.
The same is true for people fed a steady diet of killing, rape and violence. The cancer we're developing, though, is of the heart and soul. It hardens the arteries of compassion and respect. The mass media's tendency to feed off our cesspool tendencies has blackened the hearts of many.
A generation raised on "Dragnet" has a different view of cops than that portrayed on some of today's cop series. Yes, they are perhaps realistic for cops working in precincts in decaying inner cities. But that isn't the reality for most of America where police haven't been dehumanized because they're out in the suburbs, smaller cities, towns and countryside.
Reality in America isn't quite "Andy Griffith" but it is a heck of a lot closer to it than "NYPD Blue" genre.
Friends I've known over the years in law enforcement will tell you upfront that it's easy to get jaded by what they deal with day-to-day. Ninety percent of their calls are dealing with people who break the law by beating spouses, stealing, forcing children to give up their innocence in the most despicable way and more.
If you have to deal with a steady diet of such vile and human failings day in and day out, it can take an immense toll on your attitude toward life.
The same is true for people who are treated to Hollywood blockbusters about Catholic priests who go astray, rampaging mass murderers and other garbage. It's a stretch to say such movies make viewers go out and do copycat crimes although it probably does happen occasionally.
The real danger of such a steady diet of such violence - whether it is on the small or big screen - is in the approach many of us take to life.
We often allow ourselves to live our lives guided by fear. We expect the worst in people.
And yes, horrors do happen. They always have. But we've allowed the entertainment and mass media presentation of the world color our perception of reality.
It's safe to argue that there's never been a safer time to live in. Man's life expectancy is almost 60 percent higher than what it was 100 years ago.
The good guys are winning. There are countless millions of Roy Rogers raising families, putting in an honest day's work and committing free time to the betterment of their communities.
The real role models of America's youth are the Roy Rogers of the world and not rap groups that glorify killing and treating women as if they were just a commodity to be used, abused and discarded.
"Happy Trails to You" was more than just Rogers' signature song. It is an ode to the real America's outlook on life and not the cheap and unimaginative violence often generated by Hollywood.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.