January 26th, 2017
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Once upon a time, way back in the middle of the twentieth century, America was all about tomorrow. Consider the Jetsons, which premiered in 1962, just a few years after the launch of Sputnik opened the Space Age. Matt Novak positions the television cartoon within the golden age of American Futurism: “The Jetsons” was the distillation of every Space Age promise Americans could muster,” he says. “It had everything our hearts could desire: jetpacks, flying cars, robot maids, moving sidewalks.” Or think about the Tomorrowland section of Disneyland, which Walt Disney described during its dedication in 1955 as “a step into the future, with predictions of constructed things to come.”
In 1955, the USA public still believed in the future. In 1962, the public was much more willing to hear criticism of “futurism”. The future had become an aesthetic that no longer seemed believable, and was therefore open to attack. In 1955, the USA public felt that it was crucial that the USA beat the Soviets into space. By 1962 the USA public was complaining about high taxes. The mood had changed considerably. Support for scientific research began to fade, and in fact funding for science peaked a few years later and has declined ever since.
Much of the humor in the Jetsons is about excess. The humor actually resembles the kind of jokes that were aimed at the hippies just a few years later. Most of the jokes reduce down to “Look at this goofy excess, isn’t this a waste?”
The robot is a stand-in for the African American maids that upper middle class white families had, and part of the humor is “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a maid without having to deal with any racial tension?” And deep down, that joke is a variant on the seemingly eternal joke “Wow, those blacks, am I right? They sure are uppity.”
Also, the Flintstones were on the TV at the same time as the Jetsons, so you can not say that the Jetson on TV represented a public that was dreaming of a perfect future.
1962 was not 1955. The public still supported progress in 1955. It had begun its slow retreat by 1962. Part of this was the rapid rise in housing costs, and the falling wages for young men, two factors which rapidly brought the Baby Boom to an end. The Baby Boom peaked in 1958 and was over by 1964. Those were rough years, and they put the whites into an ugly mood, which slowly got worse over the decades, and which put us on the road to Trump.Source