Thursday, February 6, 2014

That dystopian nightmare known as "The Jetsons"

I was thinking about the Jetsons the other day, and I decided it was really not a utopian vision that Hanna-Barbera presented it as.

The original series, from 1962-63, was set one hundred years later, in 2062, in a place called Orbit City. George Jetson worked one hour a day at a two day a week job, and complained about it. His wife Judy, was a homemaker, but had a robot maid, Rosie, that actually kept up the place, and many labor saving devices. George and his family lived in an apartment complex on top of a big metal cylinder. the complex, and all other buildings were representative of the Googie style of architecture.

George Jetson's main nemesis was a big-headed robot named Uniblab, who was his supervisor. George also had bombastic little asshole boss named Mr. Spacely, who fires him a lot, and then rehires him before the end of the episode.

George also had an ally, R.U.D.I., a computer who it was George's responsibility to turn on and off each work day. R.U.D.I. was a member of the Society to Prevent Cruelty to Humans, which I think is an important clue.

I understand these episodes are 1950s sitcoms repackaged in a futuristic vehicle, and as such, satirical of  the progressive consumerist visions of the economy of that time.

Still, one could speculate that all this was really just a dark, depressing, fallout-ridden, computer controlled dystopian vision of what it will be like in 2062.

Consider:


  • Robots and computer overlords are running things. 
  • Henry Orbit, the apartment janitor is the only who can repair or invent things, and he is relegated to the lowest rung of the social ladder. 
  • On the other hand, Mr. Spacely and his rival Mr. Cogswell, who are obviously idiots, are in charge. 
  • Clearly, some type of mental dissipation among the populace has occurred, possibly due to massive amounts of fallout, and subsequent degradation. 
  • I'm not the first to think along these lines. Over at TV tropes, it is pointed out that the reason everyone lives in the sky is that surface world is ravaged and populated with mutants.
  • The machines, although depicted as benevolent consumer devices, do have a tendency to display mischievous qualities, a la the dog-walking treadmill that goes haywire, so that George is forced to shout "JANE, STOP THIS CRAZY THING!"
  • Everyone is white.
  • They still use paper money.
  • Dogs that talk.
  • Dogs are smarter than humans.
  • There is a glimmer of hope. Elroy, who is considered smart, has the black bead eyes mutation.


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