The cast and creator of the show defend the Confederate symbol atop the Duke boys' famed car even as Confederate imagery and statues are being taken down nationwide.
It was always corny and ridiculous, like "Baywatch" for an earlier generation, but it was also a huge hit. Now, the "Dukes of Hazzard" is once again finding itself being scrutinized for its usage of Confederate imagery.
In particular, the show's iconic car, the General Lee, is famously emblazoned with the problematic symbol right on its roof. It's as big as day and visibly evident in every single episode of the long-running show.
Now, amid the toppling of Confederate statues and calls to remove the Stars and Bars from pretty much everything, including the Mississippi state flag, the show is proving more controversial than ever, which is disappointing for its stars.
It's not the first time they've faced this particular hurdle. Back in 2015, the General Lee's design came under fire after the murder of nine Black people in a South Carolina church. TV Land, at the time the only network airing reruns of the show, quickly pulled "The Dukes of Hazzard."
It hasn't been broadcast on any network since, though it is currently available to stream on Amazon. But how long that may continue to be the case might just be up in the air. Can the General Lee possibly survive the Confederate purge?
"The situation in the country has obviously changed in the last 40 years," Tom Wopat, who played Luke Duke, told The Hollywood Reporter. "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," he concluded. In other words, he does not see the Confederate imagery on the roof of the General Lee as representing the same history of slavery and racism as many others.
John Schneider, who played Bo Duke, took it a step further, saying, "I have never had an African-American come up to me and have any problem with it whatsoever." He further added that he thinks the political correct movement "has gotten way out of hand."
The show's creator, Gy Waldron, leaned on the trope that the flag is a symbol of southern heritage and pride, not hate. "I had relatives fight on both sides of the Civil War and we honored both the American and Confederate flags," he said. "No one even connected the Confederate flag with slavery. It was simply a part of our Southern culture."
That, of course, might apply to white Southerners, but for Black people across the nation, it represents a system built on slavery that was willing to go to separate from and go to war with the United States in order to keep their slaves.
While Waldron stands by his own disassociation between the Confederate flag and slavery, he nevertheless "wholeheartedly support[s] the Black Lives Matter movement and its quest to address racism around the world."
Schneider laments that the General Lee is again falling victim to political correctness, when he's always seen the show as a "unifying force." He said, "Mom, grandma, everyone wanted to watch it together. But who benefits from division?"
He went on to tout that the show has reached generations of fans since it's debut back in 1979. "We haven’t missed a generation yet, but we may miss this next one," he said.
Some fan suggestions have included going back into the episodes and digitally removing the Confederate imagery from the roof of the car. It's signature orange color and "01" designation are just as recognizable, after all.
But Ben Jones, who played Cooter on the series and now runs massive "Dukes" fan conventions, thinks that would be disastrous. "That would be like taking the 'S' off of Superman's chest," he said.
For now, the fate of the Duke boys remains hanging in the air -- much like the General Lee did every time they jumped that creek to get away from that old Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane -- as the reckoning over Confederate imagery and symbols plays out.
Perhaps the solution would be to do something similar to how HBO Max handled "Gone with the Wind" and its glorification of the old South and slavery.
"The Dukes of Hazzard" could be presented with a brief introduction addressing the problematic nature of the Confederate symbol, as well as the historical and regional context for why it's imagery was accepted and still prevalent at the time of the show's production.