Monday, September 6, 2010

They're a modern, post-apocalyptic family...?

Were the Flintstones a reflection of our past... or our future?

Happy Labor Day, boils and ghouls! (Sorry, couldn't resist a little Crypt Keeper impersonation there.)

On this great American holiday, I've decided to pay tribute to two of our country's greatest traditions: cartoon shows and post apocalyptic fiction. You might think that these two are mutually exclusive, but that's where you're wrong. In fact, one of our most beloved animated institutions might secretly be a fictional post-apocalytpic scenario! Which one is that, you ask?

Why, The Flintstones of course! Yes, the familiar saga of Fred, Wilma, Barney, and the whole Bedrock gang might well be a terrifying glimpse of Things To Come!

I'll let an expert discuss it. Here is teletherapist Dr. Will Miller describing the venerable cartoon show in his brilliant 1996 book, Why We Watch: Killing the Gilligan Within:

See That Mushroom Cloud? Meet The Flintstones!

Ironically, one of the most futuristic shows of all time was
The Flintstones. many viewers assume it depicts an ancient past. Nonsense! The Flintstones is actually a show about a terrifying future! The program first come on the air in 1960, at the very height of tension between the United States and the Soviet Union. Every citizen lived in dread fear of being annihilated in a nuclear war. School children participated in drills hiding under their desks while homeowners built bomb shelters in their backyard. It was a terrifying time.

What if the worst happened? Suppose there was a full exchange of missiles with Russia and indeed the earth was laid waste -- the entire country was leveled by the blasts! Now imagine that a tiny remnant of people surived in small numbers across the land. As they picked themselves up and began the daunting task of rebuilding their lives, it is certain that they would re-create a middle-class life out of the primitive materials available to them from the now scorched earth. The civilization they would construct would look astonishingly like -- Bedrock!

The Flintstones is actually a fantastic dream vision of a post-apocalyptic American community that survived the nightmare of a nuclear holocaust! Next time you watch, you should feel profoundly grateful that The Flintstones did not become a reality for us! in fact, have you written anyone in authority to express your thanks? Why not send a note to the government and say "thank you for saying 'NO' to the Flintstones!"

(Miller, pgs. 88-89)

Pretty strong stuff, right? What do you think, readers? Is Miller correct in his theory about The Flintstones? Are there perhaps other "hidden" post-apocalyptic stories lurking in American popular culture?


  1. That does make insanely perfect sense. I was always impressed by how many gadgets a stone-aged family seemed to have. The downside is I prefer The Jetsons (child of the '80s and all) but I should give Fred and Wilma another go, if only for the educational aspect.

  2. The Jetsons was a childhood favorite of mine, too. As I grew up, I started noticing the sadness at the heart of that show. Poor George Jetson -- bad at his job, useless at home, no friends, no hobbies, trapped in a sterile world of malfunctioning gadgets and sass-talking robots. Had The Jetsons continued on a few seasons, it would eventually have turned into American Beauty. Imagine George quitting his job at Spacely Sprockets to stay home, work out, get high, and hit on Judy's friends while Jane cheats on him with Cogswell. Sad, sad stuff. It's too perfect - The Jetsons Movie with Kevin Spacey!

  3. You know, I always thought Danny Devito would make a fine Sprocket on film and considering his talent with making black comedies, perhaps you should send him this pitch. It could surely win at least half the Oscars as American Beauty! Especially since now you can do it in 3D!