The Jetsons

(Only a bit about language; mostly about (animated) cartoons and cultural analysis.)

From Henry Mensch on Facebook, a link to the Smithsonian Magazine blog Paleofuture by Matt Novak, with a 9/19/12 posting on “50 Years of the Jetsons: Why The Show Still Matters”.

It was 50 years ago this coming Sunday that the Jetson family first jetpacked their way into American homes. The show lasted just one season (24 episodes) after its debut on Sunday September 23, 1962, but today “The Jetsons” stands as the single most important piece of 20th century futurism. More episodes were later produced in the mid-1980s, but it’s that 24-episode first season that helped define the future for so many Americans today.

It’s easy for some people to dismiss “The Jetsons” as just a TV show, and a lowly cartoon at that. But this little show — for better and for worse — has had a profound impact on the way that Americans think and talk about the future. And it’s for this reason that, starting this Friday, I’ll begin to explore the world of “The Jetsons” one episode at a time. Each week I’ll look at a new episode from the original 1962-63 series, beginning with the premiere episode, “Rosey the Robot.”

The first episode:

(One aspect of the show’s futurism is the architectural style in it — the pop Googie style of the ’50s and ’60s. The show was in many ways very much of its time.)

On the linguistic front, we have a range of (stereotyped versions of) social and regional dialects. The usual cartoon playfulness in names: a robot French maid named Blanche Carte. And playful morphosyntax: the phrasal overlap portmanteaus slipped disk jockey, for a tv exercise guru, and beep-beepniks, for characters who go “beep beep” (with an allusion to beatniks).

3 Responses to “The Jetsons”

  1. Chris Ambidge Says:

    [episode deleted from YouTube for multiple copyright violations of the poster]

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Damn! I should have realized that a whole ca. 30-minute program would be problematic.

      Goodness knows when the copyright will expire.

      Otherwise, like the Flintstones, it’s a 50-year-old animated sitcom in an exotic locale.

  2. Bob’s Big Boy « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Second, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of The Jetsons tv show: One aspect of the show’s futurism is the architectural style in it — the pop Googie style of the ’50s and ’60s. The show was in many ways very much of its time. (link) […]

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