A Tale of Two Cities

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A Tale of Two Cities

(Bedrock and Springfield)

I have been studying early TV in my Mass Communication class and we were asked to compare a comedy from the early TV era to a present day show.

I came up with a flood of ideas, but all of them were boring to me. Until, I remembered how much I hate The Flintstones; be forewarned, if you like Fred and Barney, you are probably going to get mad at me; because I don’t have many nice things to say about them, and I always wondered why that show was so popular.

On the other hand, The Simpsons is a brilliant show and even when it hit the doldrums in the late 1990’s it was far more an imaginative and funny commentary on American life, than the Flintstones ever was.

The Simpsons has suffered through many changes in the writing staff through the course of its 25 year run; however, as the show enters its last year of production, it still produces top notch satire.

About the nicest thing I can say about the Flintstones is that the opening song is infectious. That song has wormed its way into the brains of millions, if not billions of people, and still turns up in pop culture references. Watch the video, if you dare, because you’ll likely be humming the song for the next three days.

The Flintstones originally aired between 1960 and 1966 on ABC and featured Fred and Wilma Flintstone, plus their neighbors, Barney and Betty Rubble.

The characters were obviously lifted from the 1950’s Jackie Gleason classic, The Honeymooners and relied heavily upon the gag of setting contemporary life in the Stone Age.

I’ll forgive the show’s creators for adding dinosaurs to the Stone Age, as they needed something to spice up the blatant rehashing of Honeymooners plot lines. However, how many times can a person watch a gag of a Pterodactyl  inside a Polaroid camera chiseling out photographs and think it is funny?

I searched through many Flintstones episodes for something funny, or at least edgy, and all I was able to come up with was something completely unintentional, this advertisement for Winston cigarettes.

By today’s standards, that innocently placed advertisement borders on being horrific; it’s worth clicking on the link to watch. I predict you’ll at least feel creepy watching it.

I remember an older friend of mine telling me, that when Wilma had her baby, Peebles, it was considered controversial. I found a short clip, of their mad rush to the hospital; I dare you to watch the entire clip, without begging for your 3 minutes and 42 seconds back.

This “modernstonic” family was a very unimaginative depiction of a 1950’s working class family, despite the Saber Tooth Cats and Brontosaurs. I know I was very harsh on Fred and the gang, but I’ve always disliked them from my very first encounter with their re-runs in the early 1970’s.

Flash forward to the late 1980’s to Springfield and meet The Simpsons: Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart, and little Maggie. Not to mention an entire universe of Springfield characters that emerged over the course of the show.

Homer is another working class stiff, like Fred, but he manages to be lovable despite his stupidity and ignorance. Marge, the mother,  is the voice of reason and the glue that holds the Simpson family together, but she is often portrayed as regretting her role in the family.

Lisa is the intellectual leftist leaning vegan daughter, who is often misunderstood and used as the foil to lampoon both the left and the right. Her older brother, Bart, is the hellion and anarchist of the family, plus, little Maggie who, for 25 years, has perpetually been the baby of the family with her trademark pacifier.

What makes me like the Simpsons is that it is clever satire of culture as opposed to a tired and worn out depiction of life inside a household.

The writers of the show reach out into the real world for their story lines; while they often lampoon or spoof classic movies, Broadway musicals, they never blandly copy them. They take pop culture and politics, and twist it into a clever commentary.

Take a look at Homer in the voting booth during the 2012 elections; I guarantee that you’ll have no trouble watching it.

I thought it was funny enough, but when I heard people were mad about it, well, it made me laugh all the more. I guess that I’ve got a little Bart in me.

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5 Comments

  1. Larry

     /  February 16, 2015

    Thanks Chris,very good and very interesting and I enjoyed all the posts.

    Reply
  2. I love the Flintstones for the satire…it’s also great on a number of levels, which is why it has endured, I’m sure

    Reply
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