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Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by Kenny Coyote, Jun 23, 2020.

  1. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    I had never considered the possibility that JR may have started out resenting having to do the dirty work necessary to keep Ewing Oil on top while Bobby was out wining and dining clients until just recently, while reading a post by @Lastkidpicked.

    The two of us were discussing JR's role as a young man in Ewing Oil compared to Bobby's role as a young man in the company and how the differences in their roles may have created resentment on JR's part. Starting with that in mind, I took the idea and expanded it into a possible explanation of how the two brothers' involvements in Ewing Oil led to them both being dramatically changed by the experience, each in his own distinct way.

    JR's job was seen by most people as the more important, prestigious job. That's why in the first episode of the series, Pam tells Bobby he should be doing what JR is doing. Bobby should have laughed at the idea, but he was still quite young and I doubt he fully understood what the job entailed. I'm sure he didn't realize how doing JR's job would affect him.

    I wonder how much doing that job changed JR. We won't ever know because the show didn't begin until he was already involved in running the company so we can only speculate, but it's a fascinating subject to think about because it applies to us all to some degree. How do the careers we choose change us? Do they change us for the better or the worse?

    Suppose as was suggested, that JR initially resented "slaving away at the office" and "doing the dirty work" as @Lastkidpicked put it. In that scenario, JR is doing the most undesirable tasks required to keep Ewing Oil on top, or even competitive, while Bobby is giving people season tickets to see the Dallas Cowboys and taking them out to fancy restaurants and glamorous nightclubs. Bobby's job requires being charming and making sure everyone is having a good time. JR's job is having to be the person who makes the call to lay off people approaching retirement age so they either don't collect their pensions or collect pensions that are a fraction of what they would have been a few years later. Bobby's job is to make people happy and help get them things they've been having trouble getting on their own. JR's job involves crushing people's hopes and trying to ensure they won't get what they want. Bobby's job makes people talk about him and say what a great guy he is. JR's job makes people talk about him too, but in terms of: "How are we going to stop him from driving us out of business"?

    Right away, they've been placed on career paths that put them in diametrically opposed environments. Bobby hears people saying what a great guy he is every day. JR hears people talk about what a bad guy he is every day. Bobby grows to be genuinely liked by the people around him because he's always in situations with them where they're either having a great time, or if not, Bobby figures out a way to make their lives at least a little bit better. It's easy for Bobby to be generous because he's being given practically unlimited funds with which to do it. JR's job is to give pay his workers as little as he thinks they'll accept and to buy people's land for as much less than it's worth as he can get away with. If someone is in a bind, it's Bobby's job to get them out of it, while it's JR's job to exploit it!

    While Bobby is hearing everyone telling him what a great guy he is and starting to believe it, JR is hearing people say the opposite of him and it starts to affect his perception of himself as well. JR takes a look around to see if there is some better way to go about things, and finds out all his competitors do the same thing. Whoever screws people the hardest wins.

    Familiarity breeds contempt. No matter what it is. The more familiar you become with it, the more contemptuous you become of it. The more negative opinions of JR that get back to Bobby about how JR is running the company, the more contemptuous Bobby becomes of JR. Pam tells Bobby he should be doing what JR does and he starts thinking, there has to be a better way to do this. People hate JR's guts! He's giving our company a bad name while every single night I'm out at the restaurants, the bars, the nightclubs, trying to fix the damage he's been doing to our company's reputation. If I were running the company, we wouldn't be having all these problems!

    Bobby finally tells Jock he's done being “The B Man” for Ewing Oil because he wants to learn to run the company. Jock says that's fine and tells JR to start teaching Bobby the business of running the company. Almost right away, Bobby asks to see The Red Files. Bobby is now privy to the most unsavory information about the whole company. He's appalled. For years as the company's road man, he's heard rumors about some of this, but dismissed it as mere assumption and conjecture. Now he's looking right at the actual information. He hates what he sees. He's disgusted at the types of deals and behavior his father and brother have become involved with and has come to the realization that he not only should, but must run the company.

    Bobby is convinced he's the only family member with the aptitude and the desire to do what needs to be done. It was bad enough when he was hearing about his family dealing from the bottom of the deck, but now he's got all this information in front of him. He can't dismiss it as just opinion any longer. He now has the knowledge to back up his growing belief that he's the man who should be running Ewing Oil. He knows he could do the job better. There's just one problem with all of this:

    Real knowledge is not information. It is a matter of information and experience together that make real knowledge.

    When JR gets shot, Bobby finally gets full control of running the company. He's going to show them how it's done. It starts off alright, then a problem arises, then another and another. He eventually learns it's impossible to run the company the way he envisioned. After a few months he hands back control of the company to JR who says to Bobby he's lost them millions of dollars. Bobby tells JR that he's sure JR will find a way to get it back and adds: "You're much better at that sort of thing than I ever want to be."

    Bobby had the information before but now he has true knowledge of what it takes to successfully run the company. JR knows what it takes to run the company and maybe he resented at it first, but he responded differently than Bobby did. He looked around at how all his competitors operated and his resent turned into contempt. The more familiar he became with the business, the more contemptuous of his competitors he became. He saw them all bending the rules whenever they saw fit while pretending to be ethical businessmen and fine upstanding pillars of the community and he just saw a bunch of phonies. JR saw there was no honor in the business and figured: Why pretend to be something you're not? Every day they claim to be one thing and act like something entirely different. I'm not gonna pretend to be ethical. You wanna call me "wrong" and "cruel"? I'll embrace it!

    JR doesn't want to be a nice guy and no longer pretends to be one. He's found something he's better at than anybody else and he's learned to love it.

    Bobby kept trying to find a way to run the company in an ethical way and kept running into situations where that wasn't possible. No matter how hard he tried to be fair and honest, he inevitably ended up with somebody pissed off at him. There was no way to please everybody and what was the point in trying? People like Jordan Lee were saying "Bobby's becoming just as bad as JR. Given the chance, he might turn out worse." The more familiar Bobby became with the business, the more contemptuous he became of how impossible it was to run the company in a way where being good would be rewarded. Bobby didn't learn to relish being devious. Bobby couldn't be proud of having a reputation of being the baddest of the bad. He couldn't be satisfied finishing last either, so his contempt of the whole industry grew to the point where he was absolutely done with it.

    JR's contempt of the rest of the people in the oil business grew to where he not only didn't mind treating them badly; he learned to love it. Bobby's contempt of the oil business grew to where he decided to leave the entire industry. He sold Ewing Oil with one stipulation: that his family's name no longer be affixed to the name of the company.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
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  2. lbf522

    lbf522 Soap Chat Active Member

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    Good analysis. I have always wondered if JR had started out as being idealist at first but over time that ended as he was screwed over. I remember that scene where Bobby asks JR, "Do you always have to strong arm people?". I wish the writers had explored that more and have JR and Bobby in a real conversation.
     
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  3. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    Thank you @lbf522.

    I think it would have been very interesting for the writers to have gotten into that subject. They didn't, but there is no way a man can work at that level of such a cutthroat business for that long without becoming harder and more aggressive. Pam said she saw the change in Bobby right away when he got into the contest for Ewing Oil.

    If a business makes a guy get to the point where he'll use those tactics against his own brother, just think of what he'll be willing to do to someone he doesn't even know!
     
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  4. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    I was thinking about the ida of the writers exploring the back story more. It would have been so interesting to see how much JR's attitude towards other people changed between the time he graduated from college and when the series began. Bobby too. Seeing him change from his years as a football player to becoming a playboy to working for Ewing Oil would have been tremendous.

    With the current technology available now, is it possible that they could use digital effects to have the characters as they appeared when they were young, or at least as they appeared in the first year of Dallas to appear in new episodes? I know a lot has been done with holographs of people. It's now possible to present a concert of some legendary, long gone singer, by using a holograph image. If they can already do that, how much harder would it be to have perfect digital recreations of actors like Jim Davis and Larry Hagman, or Patrick Duffy when he was young, and put them in an episode that would tell the story at the start of this thread?

    I'm no script writer, but if they took the general concept I described and made a two hour Dallas movie of it, I think people would love to see it. The technology may not quite be there yet, but I don't think it's going to to be too long before someone makes a new movie starring actors who are long gone, by projecting holograph images or some other digital effect that would make it look like those actors are right there. It would almost be like a time machine.
     
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  5. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Addict EXP: 12 Years

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    Very well thought out posts as usual, Kenny.

    When you want to see how running the business affected J.R., you only need to look at what happened to Bobby when he stepped in.

    Remember when Bobby first took over after J.R. was shot? Until then, Bobby had the luxury of controlling his work time and his free time. He was always on time for dinner and always made his marriage top priority.

    And when he reluctantly stepped in for J.R, he thought this could continue.
    [​IMG]

    But almost right away, Bobby found out how hard it is to run Ewing Oil. The company needed a refinery, and Bobby was able to find one he could buy. The financing was the difficult part and this meant a lot of long days and late nights. Bobby had to work through lunch and cancel plans with Pam over and over. He felt he was neglecting his family, but what could he do? He had to keep Ewing Oil running.

    So while he began to enjoy the power and enjoy making a difference (one of the episodes is even titled, "Taste of Success") Bobby did begin to appreciate what J.R. had to go through to keep Ewing Oil running.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
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  6. Via The Void

    Via The Void Soap Chat Well-Known Member EXP: 3 Years

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    JR always logically felt that Ewing Oil was his & you can see why.

    Jock trained him for the position personally, it must've irked him to let Bobby into the company.

    Bobby after all was just the company pimp! I don't think JR resented Bobby in that way business wise, or bidness wise as Jock might say! JR helped to make the company work & to make it grow, he was proud of his achievements at Ewing Oil.

    I think JR only really resented having to let Bobby into the office environment of actually running the company. JR was more content when Bobby was just a glorified company salesman. :)

    larry-hagman.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
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  7. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    I don't know how many people will remember this, but in 'Digger's Daughter' when Pam first brings up the idea of Bobby running Ewing Oil, Bobby tells her that's JR's job "he's got the brains."

    The worst mistake Bobby ever made was allowing himself to be talked into quitting his job as the road man for the company,which he enjoyed, and going to work with JR which he didn't like as much. Bobby looked like a happier man when he was still being the road man for Ewing Oil. It's hard to tell because he had just gotten married, but he looked much more at peace with himself then and unfortunately he let himself be manipulated into quitting a job that he enjoyed to go to work with JR which would always be stressful and less fun. I don't blame Pam for asking because she didn't know a damn thing about Ewing Oil or what she'd be getting Bobby into, but Bobby should have just laughed at her suggestion that he get into running the company with JR. Bobby should have said something like: "Wait until you get to know JR better and then tell me how much you'd like going to work with JR every day."

    Bobby's job as the road man was an important job. It was the ultimate Public Relations job. He was getting clients interested in making deals with the company and he was making friends with the politicians and other influential people who could help the company. Remember whenever Jock would say "It's time that we call in some of our markers" when the company was facing a difficult situation? Bobby was the one who gave them the markers - that means doing someone a favor. In gambling, giving someone a marker means fronting the money to keep gambling when they're out of money. Calling in your marker is asking to be repaid the money you loaned someone, or asking for someone to return the favor you did for them awhile ago. Without a good road man like Bobby, what happens when you need to call in your markers?
     
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  8. Via The Void

    Via The Void Soap Chat Well-Known Member EXP: 3 Years

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    I totally agree with you. Bobby was a good company representative.

    Unfortunately, later on Miss Ellie reasoned after Jock's disappearance in the chopper accident (we won't get into that here!) that as a result of Jock's will he wanted the boys to work together.

    Pitting them against each other for control of Ewing Oil was really meant to bring the two siblings together. And it did at least for a while despite JR hankering for total control over the company. :)
     
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  9. Laurie Marr

    Laurie Marr Soap Chat Active Member

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    Very intriguing post. I agree that it’s fascinating to consider just how much JR’s job changed him.
     
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  10. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Addict EXP: 12 Years

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    It's fun to go back and watch the original miniseries and consider just how different J.R. and Jock were in the early episodes. And it is fascinating to see how both characters evolved as time went on.
     
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  11. Taylor Bennett Jr.

    Taylor Bennett Jr. Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 1 Year

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    it's interesting to me how much JR suddenly 'sprang to life' in Barbecue - it's like Larry let his own personality out of the bottle with the rose-colored glasses. I'm not sure he even so much as cracked a smile in the first four episodes.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2020
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  12. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    Excellent observation @Taylor Bennett Jr.

    It looks to me like Larry Hagman became comfortable enough on the new show to inject more personality into his character.
     
  13. southfork88

    southfork88 Soap Chat Addict

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    After the oil scandal in Asia, see Dallas Season 1979-1980, was Jock who asks Bobby return to Ewing Oil and he, regretfully, tells Ray to take over the whole ranch management. Unfortunately, in the meantime Pam, due to J.R., had also become the manager of "The Store", by transferring Liz Craig to Houston or Austin, I don't remember well ...
     
  14. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    It's as if Bobby feared Jock too much to say: I'm sorry, but I don't love the oil business. I value my wife and and our happiness more than I value your company. I want to spend my life doing something I believe in, doing something I love.
     
  15. southfork88

    southfork88 Soap Chat Addict

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    Kenny you are my same age, so I think you can imagine that that was the lifestyle in 1979 in Texas and, above all, in a patriarchal family with an authoritarian father as Jock and a mother like Ellie that, behind those fantastic smiles, was a woman of steel. Dallas is a mixture of old West and modern intrigue ... for that time.
     
  16. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    Maybe a better word for it than fear is respect. The funny thing about it is, Bobby doing what his father said in 1979 also describes me in 1979. But I was 10 years old then.
     
  17. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    I'm interested in hearing about this: How dd you see Jock and JR evolve as time went on? I have some ideas of my own but I'm curious to see what you and others think.
     
  18. Lastkidpicked

    Lastkidpicked Soap Chat Addict EXP: 12 Years

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    J.R. is the obvious one. Guzzler said it best:
    This is when Larry Hagman gave J.R. a little more personality, and made him the man we love to hate!

    Jock is a little different, because they changed his backstory as the series went on. During the miniseries, he was ruthless, and when he wanted land from somebody he either bankrupted them (Tom Owens) or had them wrongly committed to a sanitarium (Sam Culver's uncle).

    As time went on, they softened his backstory. I'm glad for that, because I'm a real Jock fan. But when you go back and watch the earliest episodes, he was overbearing and ruthless, and that is a big part of how J.R. grew into the Magnificent Bastard that we all looked forward to watching on Friday nights.
     
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  19. Chris2

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    I loved the early episodes because the characters had more shades of gray. Later on, Jock was made out to be too upstanding, and he was practically considered a saint after his death.
     
  20. Kenny Coyote

    Kenny Coyote Soap Chat Enthusiast EXP: 12 Years

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    I agree that JR is the more obvious one, if you're looking for change in the characters. They did give JR more personality and Larry Hagman's portrayal of the character was a big factor in that, as Guzzler said. I don't know how much of a factor the scripts and the direction he was given and how much was just Larry Hagman's own ideas as to what would make the character work best. The scripts were a factor, and if you recall, JR and Ray were friends in the beginning. JR was shown to be a closer friend to Ray than Bobby was! Bobby isn't shown as being friends with Ray, per se. They got along but the relationship appeared to be strictly professional. You can se this in the scenes where Bobby tells Ray to drive Lucy to school. Ray has good reasons of his own for delegating the job to a ranch hand. Bobby makes a big display of telling Ray that since Jock asked Ray to do it, that nobody else but Ray driving Lucy to school would do. For such a complex job as that, you can see why. HA! Later on Bobby asks what's wrong with Ray and Pam says Ray is concerned that Bobby might fire him. Bobby says words to the effect of he doesn't see why just as long as Ray does as he's told. Does that include handing over his dates to Bobby, whenever Bob sees fit?

    Meanwhile JR and Ray have gone in a trips to Waco together and JR doesn't treat Ray as subserviently as Bobby does. JR gives Ray more room for talking to each other as friends, even though they don't know Ray is their brother yet. Ray is their ranch foreman, but he and JR have clearly gone out on the town of Waco together,just for the fun of it. Their last trip their together has some consequences.

    Over time, I see a lot more enthusiasm for life in Larry Hagman's portrayal of JR. The Barbecue episode Guzzler mentioned seems to be the turning point. JR becomes to be a man who is loving life, always smiling. It looks to me like this is more Larry's doing than that of the scripts or anything else. Whether the change was all Larry Hagman's idea or a combination of his and other people's ideas, it sure worked and it's damn hard to argue with success.

    I'm a real Jock fan too. I disagree with one point: that he had Sam Culver's uncle committed to a sanitarium. As I remember it, Donna finds out while working on a book about Sam that Sam had his uncle committed to a sanitarium and then got a power of attorney of the man's land so that he and his partner could drill for oil on the land. Jock comes into this because he was the man who was going to do the drilling. Jock was Sam's business partner and his expertise was in oil. Sam's role in this was making the land available for drilling by having his uncle committed and getting the power of attorney. Sam did the committing. Jock was not kin to the Culvers and as such, couldn't have been the one to have done it, as it would take a relative or a doctor. I didn't like that storyline much and found it unsettling that Donna would be so eager for fame and fortune that she'd be willing to rape her dead ex-husband's diary for whatever it was worth. It's bad form to speak ill of the dead and this was a man whom Donna had presumably loved.

    I enjoyed Jock seeing Jock become a better man over time. Characters can become stale without some type of character development. Jock seemed to go through a good deal of character development and this was evident in Dove Hunt. When Tom Owens accused Jock of having stolen his land, Jock said he'd never seen Owens in his life. As a character who only appears in one episode, it's hard to know how credible Owens is. We don't know anything about the man other than what he hear him say and see him do. That he and his friends were willing to try to murder Jock and his sons in cold blood doesn't do wonders for his credibility in my book.

    What really impressed me was how Jock just looked up the barrel of Owens's rifle and told him that if he was going to shoot him, to go ahead and do it. Jock looked him right in the eye the whole time. Damn! It takes some guts to do that!

    I'm sure Jock always had guts but what I find telling about Jock's personal growth as a man is what happened after Ray an Bobby returned. They turned the tables on Owens and his men and made them surrender their guns. Jock could have done anything he wanted in retaliation at that point. Keep in mind he'd already been shot! Despite that, Jock chose to give Owens and his men their guns back and let them go. Owens is stunned. Jock isn't even going to press charges. Jock says some words to the effect of how he thinks he owes Owens for what he did to him and that "maybe this business has become too impersonal." Jock tells JR that they're going to go through their books when they get home and get things in order. Jock also wants to make sure that no matter what happens to him, he want to make sure that his ex-wife Amanda is always provided for. That's very admirable. They say age denotes wisdom and Jock certainly acquired a lot of it as he grew older.
     

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