This week, public outcry reached deafening levels as the classic ABC animated sitcom The Flintstones was lambasted for its perceived intolerance and insensitivity towards homosexuals and their lifestyles. The uproar was largely unexpected, considering how long any Flintstones treatment of the issue would have already been on record.
“For over a half century now, The Flintstones theme song has cavalierly touted that when you’re with them you will have a ‘gay old time,’” CNN anchor Anderson Cooper said on the air Tuesday. “This sort of flip treatment of the homosexual lifestyle, and that it could possibly apply to a family in the stone age, is offensive and outrageous. What are they trying to say about the homosexual community? That it is for neanderthals? For cavemen? How can any reasonable person not be mortified when they hear this song?”
The piling on Fred, Wilma, Barney and the gang got worse when Cooper appeared on “The View” Thursday morning. When co-host Whoopi Goldberg asked Cooper if he felt the beloved cartoon show was damaging to young people struggling with their sexuality, he responded, “Almost without question. With the recent surge of suicides among gay teenagers, where might they turn for guidance and understanding, for sympathy and information? To television, naturally, which has long been a beacon for learning and knowledge and truth. And then imagine what they find in the town of Bedrock – in itself a pretty lewd reference for a children’s program, no? – but rampant mockery at their expense! It’s indefensible and shocking. We should all be striving for more acceptance and sensitivity, and instead The Flintstones are spitting in the collective homosexual face.”
Some have questioned whether this reaction by Cooper, and subsequently a large number of other pundits and advocates, may have been a bit too extreme. A spokesman for Warner Brothers animation (which controls the rights to original Flintstones production company Hanna-Barbera’s catalog of programs) defended The Flintstones, saying it is merely a reference to the harmless fun the audience will have watching the characters antics. This led to biting commentary across the media spectrum, with responses ranging from “What? ‘You’ll have a swell old time’ didn’t occur to anyone?” to “Intolerance is intolerance no matter how sparkly and fun the outer shell appears” to “They might as well have called Fred and Barney faggots, their meaning is crystal clear.”
Anti-Flintstones, anti-Hanna-Barbera rhetoric began to crowd the blogosphere, adding more vitriol to the chorus of disgust. Character design and voicework were called into question, with everyone from Mr. Slade to the Great Gazoo falling under the microscope. The flamboyant Snagglepuss was criticized for being “the worst sort of of gay pink mountain lion stereotype,” while The Flintstones sister show The Jetsons also came under scrutiny primarily for what was deemed “a sad and disturbing portrayal of a 24th Century butch robot maid.”
These posts led to a brief uptick in searches for sapphic anime porn involving Betty Rubble, Judy Jetson, and even the more fringe character Penelope Pitstop, before dying down to normal levels by week’s end.
Cooper went on the offensive again to round out the week, expanding his criticism of the modern stone age family on WZLZ radio in Tulsa Friday morning.
“This sort of bigotry cannot just be ignored, whether it was produced fifty years ago or a thousand years ago. This is why we now cover the reports of gay suicide every chance we get, instead of just ignoring and burying news reports of it as we have for time immemorial. The issue is now, is of the moment, is hot news, if you will. And I for one will not let this instance just slide into that massive pile of gay intolerance that has been allowed to build in Hollywood. The Flintstones are culpable for their actions, whether they are backward, ignorant cave dwellers or not.”
Finally caving (no pun intended) in response to the growing media frenzy, Warner Brothers Animation announced this morning it would be removing the line from the legendary theme song, and replacing it with a further series of nonsense sounding words – including variations of “Yabba,” “Dabba,” and more than likely but not exclusively “Doo.”