N. 6 (2020): Kids Don't Just Wanna Have Fun. Material Girls, Wild Boys, and the Melancholic Eighties

No Longer, Not Yet: Retrofuture Hauntings on The Jetsons

Stefano Morello
The Graduate Center - CUNY
Madonna, 'Girl Gone Wild' (dir. Mert & Marcus, 2012)

Pubblicato 2020-12-04

Come citare

Morello, S. (2020). No Longer, Not Yet: Retrofuture Hauntings on The Jetsons. De Genere - Rivista Di Studi Letterari, Postcoloniali E Di Genere, (6). Recuperato da https://www.degenere-journal.it/index.php/degenere/article/view/138


From Back to the Future to The Wonder Years, from Peggy Sue Got Married to The Stray Cats’ records – 1980s youth culture abounds with what Michael D. Dwyer has called "pop nostalgia," a set of critical affective responses to representations of previous eras used to remake the present or to imagine corrective alternatives to it. Longings for the Fifties, Dwyer observes, were especially key to America’s self-fashioning during the Reagan era (2015).

Moving from these premises, I turn to anachronisms, aesthetic resonances, and intertextual references that point to, as Mark Fisher would have it, both a lost past and lost futures (Fisher 2014, 2-29) in the episodes of the Hanna-Barbera animated series The Jetsons produced for syndication between 1985 and 1987. A product of Cold War discourse and the early days of the Space Age, the series is characterized by a bidirectional rhetoric: if its setting emphasizes the empowering and alienating effects of technological advancement, its characters and its retrofuture aesthetics root the show in a recognizable and desirable all-American past. The show’s contradictions allow the audience to explore the possibilities of a technology-determined future without the threat of change produced by major epistemological shifts. I argue that, at a time when the threat of nuclear annihilation weighed again on the shoulders of America’s youth, reverberations from the past and its unfulfilled promises were key to defining and enabling the nation’s sense of futurity.

Riferimenti bibliografici

  1. Benford, Gregory. 2010. The Wonderful Future that Never Was. New York: Hearst Books.
  2. Billboard. 1986. "12 Inch Singles Sale." July 5, 36.
  3. Carosso, Andrea. 2012. Cold War Narratives: American Culture in the 1950s. Bern: Peter Lang AG.
  4. Derrida, Jacques. 1994. "Spectres of Marx." New Left Review 205 (1): 31"“58.
  5. Dinerstein, Joel. 2006. "Technology and Its Discontents: On the Verge of the Posthuman." American Quarterly 58 (3): 569"“95.
  6. Dwyer, Michael D. 2015. Back to the Fifties: Nostalgia, Hollywood Film, and Popular Music of the Seventies and Eighties. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  7. Federici, Silvia. 1975. Wages Against Housework. Bristol: Falling Wall Press.
  8. Federici, Silvia. 2012 [1981]. "The Restructuring of Housework and Reproduction in the United States in the 1970s." In Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle, 41-53. Oakland: PM Press.
  9. Feuer, Jane. 1995. Seeing Through the Eighties. Durham: Duke University Press.
  10. Fisher, Mark. 2012. "What Is Hauntology?" Film Quarterly 66 (1): 16"“24.
  11. Fisher, Mark. 2014. Ghosts of My Life. Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures. Alresford: Zero Books.
  12. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. 1930. "A Nice Quiet Place," The Saturday Evening Post, May 31. Accessed July 15, 2020. http://www.gutenberg.net.au/fsf/A-NICE-QUIET-PLACE.html.
  13. Friedan, Betty. 1963. The Feminine Mystique. New York: Norton.
  14. Frelik, Pawel. 2013. "The Future of the Past: Science Fiction, Retro, and Retrofuturism." In Parabolas of Science Fiction, 205"“24. Wesleyan University Press.
  15. Gordon, Richard, and Linda M. Kimball. 1985. "High Technology, Employment and the Challenges to Education." Prometheus 3 (2): 315"“30.
  16. Haraway, Donna J. 1991 [1985]. "A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century." In Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, 149-81. New York: Routledge
  17. Harvey, David. 1989. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Cambridge: Blackwell.
  18. Harvey, David. 2003. "The Fetish of Technology: Causes and Consequences." Macalester International 13 (1): 3-30.
  19. Hess, Alan. 2004. Googie Redux: Ultramodern Roadside Architecture. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.
  20. Hinerman, Stephen. 1992. "I'll Be Here With You.' Fans, Fantasy and the Figure of Elvis." In The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media, edited by Lisa A. Lewis, 107-34. Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge.
  21. Humphreys, Kristi Rowan. 2015. Housework and Gender in American Television: Coming Clean. Lanham: Lexington Books.
  22. Jackson, Steven J. 2014. "Rethinking Repair." In Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality, and Society, edited by Tarleton Gillespie, Pablo J. Boczkowski, and Kirsten A, 221-40. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  23. Marcus, Daniel. 2004. Happy Days and Wonder Years: The Fifties and the Sixties in Contemporary Cultural Politics. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
  24. Marx, Leo. 1964. The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  25. May, Elaine Tyler. 1988. Homeward Bound: American Families in the Cold War Era. New York: Basic Books.
  26. May, Jon, and Nigel Thrift. 2001. "Introduction." In TimeSpace: Geographies of Temporality, 1"“46. Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge.
  27. Medovoi, Leerom. 2005. Rebels: Youth and the Cold War Origins of Identity. Durham: Duke University Press.
  28. Mintz, Steven, and Susan Kellogg. 1988. Domestic Revolutions: A Social History of American Family Life. New York: Free Press.
  29. Oldenziel, Ruth, and Karin Zachmann. 2009. Cold War Kitchen: Americanization, Technology, and European Users. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  30. Sayers, Jentery. 2014. "Technology." In Keywords for American Cultural Studies, edited by Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler, 235-38. New York: New York University Press.
  31. Soja, Edward W. 1996. Thirdspace: Journeys to Los Angeles and Other Real-and-Imagined Places. Cambridge: Blackwell.
  32. Spigel, Lynn. 2001. "From Domestic Space to Outer Space The 1960s Fantastic Family Sitcom." In Welcome to the Dreamhouse: Popular Media and Postwar Suburbs, 107"“40. Durham: Duke University Press.
  33. Thatcher, Margaret. 1987. "Interview for Woman's Own." Woman's Own, September 23. Accessed July 15, 2020. https://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/106689.
  34. The Jetsons. Hanna-Barbera Productions, 1962-1963; 1985-1987.
  35. U.S. News & World Report. 1986. "Exploding the Myth About Teenagers." February 10, 80.
  36. Vaidhyanathan, Siva. 2006. "Introduction: Rewiring the"Nation': The Place of Technology in American Studies." American Quarterly 58 (3): 555"“67.
  37. Williams, Raymond. 1977. "Dominant, Residual, and Emergent." In Marxism and Literature, 121-27. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  38. Whyte, William Hollingsworth. 1957. The Organization Man. New York: Doubleday Anchor Books.
  39. Wosk, Julie. 2015. My Fair Ladies: Female Robots, Androids, and Other Artificial Eves. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
  40. Wyss, Johann David. 1988 [1812]. The Swiss Family Robinson: or, The Adventures of a Father and his Four Sons on a Desert Island. London: Penguin Books
  41. Links
  42. "Prouder, Stronger, Better." Ronald Reagan and George Bush Presidential Campaign. 1984. Accessed July 15, 2020. www.livingroomcandidate.org/commercials/1984/ prouderstronger-better.
  43. Bob Goetz "Was the Astrodome Named After a Dog?" The New York Times, December 11, 2005. Accessed July 15, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/11/sports/football/was-the-astrodome-named-after-a-dog.html.
  44. Box Office Mojo. Accessed July 15, 2020. https://www.boxofficemojo.com.
  45. Monsanto House of the Future. Accessed July 15, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=VowfYuhx1-o.