Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Happy 50th Birthday to “The Jetsons!”

posted by Nell Minow

Fifty years ago this week, The Jetsons first appeared on television, a sort of spin-off/bookend to The Flintstones.  While “The Jetsons” did not have any characters to match the bombastic and iconic Fred Flintstone and lasted only 24 episodes in its original run, its stories of a family living in 2062 with push-button conveniences (and a robot maid to operate them) is still fondly remembered after five decades.

YouTube Preview Image

The Smithsonian’s Paleofuture blog has a thoughtful and entertaining tribute to the Jetsons by Matt Novak, who calls the show “the single most important piece of 20th century futurism.”

Thanks to my Google Alerts for words and phrases like Jetsons, Minority Report, utopia, dystopia, Blade RunnerStar Trek, apocalypse and a host of others, I’ve been monitoring the way that we talk about the future for years. And no point of reference has been more popular and varied as a symbol of tomorrowism than “The Jetsons.”

“The Jetsons” was the distillation of every Space Age promise Americans could muster. People point to “The Jetsons” as the golden age of American futurism because (technologically, at least) it had everything our hearts could desire: jetpacksflying carsrobot maidsmoving sidewalks. But the creators of “The Jetsons” weren’t the first to dream up these futuristic inventions. Virtually nothing presented in the show was a new idea in 1962, but what “The Jetsons” did do successfully was condense and package those inventions into entertaining 25-minute blocks for impressionable, media-hungry kids to consume.

And though it was “just a cartoon” with all the sight gags and parody you’d expect, it was based on very real expectations for the future. As author Danny Graydon notes in The Jetsons: The Official Cartoon Guide, the artists drew inspiration from futurist books of the time, including the 1962 book 1975: And the Changes to Come, by Arnold B. Barach (who envisioned such breakthroughs as ultrasonic dishwashers and instant language translators). The designers also drew heavily from the Googie aesthetic of southern California (where the Hanna-Barbera studios were located)—a style that perhaps best represented postwar consumer culture promises of freedom and modernity.

He interviewed Danny Graydon, the London-based author of The Jetsons: The Official Guide to the Cartoon Classic.

Graydon explained why he believed the show resonated with so many Americans in 1962: “It coincided with this period of American history when there was a renewed hope — the beginning of the ’60s, sort of pre-Vietnam [protests], when Kennedy was in power. So there was something very attractive about the nuclear family with good honest values thriving well into the future. I think that chimed with the zeitgeist of the American culture of the time.”

Here the Jetsons are doing something that today seems almost as sweetly retro as the Flintstones — gathered together to watch a small television with antennae.

 

 

 

 



  • Kevin L.

    Whenever I’ve had a hard day at the office, I always tell my wife “I had to push the button TWICE!”

    • Nell Minow

      I love that, Kevin, thanks!

Previous Posts

Christopher Orr on the Coen Brothers' "Miller's Crossing"
One of my favorite critics writes about one of his favorite movies in The Atlantic: the highlight of Christopher Orr's outstanding series on the Coen Brothers' films is his essay on Miller's Crossing. Whether you're a fan of the Coens or of this film or not, Orr's essay is a pleasure to read for it

posted 3:53:09pm Sep. 23, 2014 | read full post »

New on ABC: Black-ish
One of the best new shows of the year is Anthony Anderson's "Black-ish."  Anderson plays Andre "Dre" Johnson has a great job, a beautiful mixed-race doctor wife, Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), four kids, and a colonial home in the mostly-white suburbs.  But now that he has given his children a bett

posted 10:20:50pm Sep. 22, 2014 | read full post »

The Real Story: Tracks and Robyn Davidson's Long Walk Across Australia
Mia Wasikowska plays real-life adventurer Robyn Davidson in "Tracks," based on the 1980 international best-seller about her 1700-mile walk across Australia with four camels. A thoughtful interview with Davidson in The Australian describes her: Davidson is an enigma. With her patrician air, prim

posted 3:51:08pm Sep. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Smile of the Week: The Dancing Traffic Light
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SB_0vRnkeOk[/youtube]

posted 8:00:15am Sep. 22, 2014 | read full post »

TrueSpark: Teaching Children and Teens About Character With Quality Films
I am honored to serve on the advisory committee for TrueSpark, which provides quality films and curricula for schools at no cost to use in teaching character. [iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/akEWIRfjnxk?rel=0" frameborder="0"] Parents and teachers who want to lear

posted 8:22:33pm Sep. 21, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.