While many people are likely to say that they appreciate animated shows such as “The Jetsons,” “The Flintstones,” and “The Simpsons,” most of them fail to observe some of society’s most divisive issues. These sitcoms are meant to discuss society’s problems from a satirical point-of-view and even though they might seem childish, certain elements that they contain actually address philosophical theories. While some might consider that particular scenes in animated sitcoms are discriminatory in regard to a certain public, it is probable that screenwriters actually intended to satirize concepts in the contemporary society. Animation should be accepted as one of the most effective means of lampooning in the media world because of its ability to address concerning matters by using slap-stick comedy devices.
“The Flintstones” relate to a prehistoric period, “The Simpsons” discuss matters present in the modern-day society, and “The Jetsons” present a future society. In spite of this, they all focus on a general idea of a suburban family dealing with problems that people come across in the present, thus the reason for which many individuals are very probable to identify with certain characters in these shows.
While “The Flintstones” provides viewers with an account related to typical families in the 1960s, “The Jetsons” brings on a space-age family that apparently experiences much lesser difficulties as a result of technology. Even with that, when focusing on the problems experienced by each of the two families, one is likely to acknowledge that they are, in point of fact, similar. The fact that George Jetson is not annoyed by daily commutes because of the intelligent spaceships of the future does not make him being harassed by Mr. Spacely any less irritating.
Gender is especially important when considering the characters in animated sitcoms. Characters such as Wilma, Jane, and Marge prove to be able to resolve most of the complicated situations that their husbands get it. However, none of them is a main character and they are typically portrayed as being inferior to men. Marge is particularly emancipated in comparison to Wilma and Jane, this probably being a result of the fact that “The Simpsons” was produced in an era when feminism had already influenced society greatly. Marge does not have the same tiny waist that Wilma and Jane have and she never wears a short skirt like the ones worn by the other two characters. All three sitcoms are, however, dominated by stereotypes. One detail that somewhat advances the image of these characters is the fact that they are often pictured as clever, more daring than their husbands, and able to get their families out of difficult situations. Even with the fact that some of the female characters have short hair, none of them puts across masculine characteristics. Marge is distinguished through the fact that she is a modern female whose physical appearance and personality allow her to perform tasks that are typically meant for men. This does not necessarily mean that she is equal to Homer, as he limits her activities and concentrates on being a housewife, thus acting in agreement with stereotypes.
Women in the three animated shows are normally seen as wearing light-colored clothing, as having the same immaculate hair, and as normally wearing skirts. In contrast to women, men are seen wearing rather conservative clothing and as being accustomed to assuming control over the family. Women are also inclined to listen to their husbands when they come across a difficulty, as it is their opinion that apparently matters the most.
Men in the three animated shows are pictured as being responsible for financially supporting the family. Moreover, their wives appear to ask for more from them, with the case of Jane taking George’s wallet and leaving him with only one note being explanatory regarding this. The antagonists in each of the sitcoms are represented by the bosses of each of the men. Mr. Spacey, Mr. Slate, and Mr. Burns are each egocentric, financially-motivated, and determined to make the lives of their employees a living hell. Homer, Fred, Barney, and George are, as a result, struggling to keep their jobs and constantly express their In spite of the fact that they too are discriminated, men are generally provided with prominent roles, appear with an increase frequency, and usually talk more. George, Fred, and Homer are all pictured as having non-athletic bodies and as having sort of a beer-belly. To a certain degree, this is the stereotype of a working-class individual who is either unable to exercise because of the fact that his work and family takes up most of his time or who is simply too lazy to do something about their physical appearance. While some might be inclined to believe that women are unhesitant about taking on roles that are traditionally designed for men, the fact that men are rarely (almost never) displayed as having feminine characteristics further supports the belief that the sitcoms are to some extent discriminatory. Men largely dominate the action in the three shows and mostly everything revolves around them while women characters are meant to support their husbands.
Age is also important when considering the way that characters are portrayed, considering that children are often shown performing unethical activities. This is most probably meant to emphasize the fact that children are irresponsible. Both Bart and Judy are unwilling to listen to their parents and generally unhesitant about doing things that are typical for teenagers. The relationships between parents and their children put across the feeling that men are typically unable to care for their children properly, as this is presumably a woman’s job. Fred’s encounters with Pebbles show him tossing her around and playing with her while Wilma appears to be more caring about her daughter.
Considering the way that present-day society functions, it is not surprising that individuals follow tradition and behave in accordance to how they think it is normal for them to behave. Children watching animated sitcoms promoting stereotypical image are likely to be influenced by the characters that they see and to eventually shape their personality in accordance with an animated character that they identify with. Most children tend to think that by doing so they have more chances of integrating society successfully. Although it is generally accepted that television educates individuals, it is difficult to determine whether its effects on children and on society as a whole are positive or negative.
One of the most interesting social issues found in all three sitcoms is the concept of a consumer society. Individuals in “The Flintstones,” “The Jetsons,” and “The Simpsons” all express their concern about buying new things. From the very first episode in the Jetsons, viewers are presented with Rosie, the robot, and the Jetsons as they struggle to do anything in their power in order to buy her. The previous robot in the family was outdated and, according to George, he did not even finish paying for it. Mr. Spacey’s decision to increase George’s salary further promotes the belief that people were addicted to being consumers as a result of being impressed with new technologies.
The general theme of a suburban family is present in all three sitcoms, this being meant to make them appealing to a wider public that can identify with characters in each show. Producers realized that most of their users were located in suburban areas and thus took advantage of the situation. In order to do so, they pictured suburbs as being a cheerful environment where hard work and family were the most respected values. Even animals in the sitcoms are affected by stereotypes, considering that Dino and Astro express particular fondness toward their male masters and do everything in their power in order to display this affection.
When considering the character and Bart Simpson and the values that he promotes, he is likely to have had a strong effect on teenagers from across the world. This is, however, surprising because his thinking is antisocial and he is generally in favor of immorality. It is difficult to understand how society tolerates a character as Bart Simpson and accepts it for the trend that he virtually is. The fact that his father constantly uses violence against him is even more worrying, as children might be inclined to believe that violence is the only solution in certain cases. However, when looking at matters from an objective point-of-view, one can discover that this is merely an exaggeration of stereotypes presumably meant to educate the public in regarding to the difference between right and wrong. Or at least this is what producers are likely to say in order to get away with promoting antisocial behavior. The bottom line is that the persons behind these sitcoms are mainly motivated by profits and as are willing to put any kind of concepts into cartoons as long as they earn money as a result of doing it.
While “The Jetsons” and “The Flintstones” address social ideas from a more conservative point-of-view, “The Simpsons” goes right at it and presents some of the most controversial concepts in the contemporary society. This might be caused by the fact that viewers have gradually become able to filter information.
Groening, Matt, The Simpsons, Gracie Films & 20th Century Fox Television (1989-present).
Dir. William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, The Flintstones, Hanna-Barbera Productions (1960-1966).
Dir. William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, The Jetsons, Screen Gems (1962-63) & Worldvision Enterprises (1985-87).
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