Warner Bros.’ consumer products division has decided to cease licensing replicas of “Dukes of Hazzard” character General Lee’s vehicle with a Confederate flag on the roof, as efforts to remove the flag from statehouse grounds and other public spaces gains momentum in the wake of last week’s shootings in Charleston, S.C.
“Warner Bros. Consumer Products has one licensee producing die-cast replicas and vehicle model kits featuring the General Lee with the Confederate flag on its roof — as it was seen in the TV series,” said a spokesman for the studio. “We have elected to cease the licensing of these product categories.”
“Dukes of Hazzard,” which ran from 1979-85 and was adapted into a 2005 feature film, was part of an era of Southern chic, including movies like “Smokey and the Bandit” and Southern classic rock. “Dukes” featured “two good ol’ boys” who perpetually eluded sheriff’s deputies in their ’69 Dodge Charger, with the Confederate emblem painted on top.
Retailers like Amazon, Sears, eBay and Walmart announced Tuesday that they would no longer sell products featuring images of the Confederate flag.
Although the Confederate imagery was part of “Dukes of Hazzard,” and was used in merchandising and other imagery by the ’70s band Lynyrd Skynyrd, politicians and businesses have called for its removal as it has been used as a symbol of white supremacy.
While the flag may have been a pop culture symbol of Southern rebellion and heritage back in the ’70s, in the past generation it increasingly is viewed differently, a reminder of slavery. Even in the “Dukes of Hazzard” feature in 2005, the Duke brothers get some blowback for driving in a vehicle featuring it.
On CNN on Tuesday, former Rep. Ben Jones (D-Ga.), who played Cooter on “Dukes of Hazzard,” said the show “featured a Confederate battle flag in a very positive context, in a place where there was no racism.”
“I know the world’s not like that, but you must understand that that flag has been seen and is now seen also in positive contexts,” he said. “It’s been used by racists, by horrible people such as this man who killed those people in Charleston. A terrible thing. I’m sure he’s also used the American flag.”