(Had to write this for my class entitled “Theology and Media Culture”. The assignment was to write about what the Jetson got right or wrong about the future and why it matters.”
George Jetson and his family are a futuristic, cartoon model family. They live through television, in a world which is not real or tangible, but yet it is a reflection of the culture and values of the 1960’s set one hundred years into the future – into a world where cars fly, robots are our maids and the sky is literally the limit. The world of the Jetson’s is not one of unlimited possibilities or even a world in the nature of 1984 or Brave New World, which one can look at and admire in the ways Orwell and Huxley were prophetic visionaries in their perception, prediction and trajectory of the future. Rather, the Jetson’s simply are a reflection of the culture that was its master.
The culture of the Jetson’s was precisely what other television shows of the 1960’s where showing the generation. There was the working, loyal father who at times was a bit aloof but was always there when it mattered and found a way to provide – even if his wife needed to step in and guide the space ship every now and again. His wife was loyal, beautiful and of course a stay at home mom. However, instead of cooking every meal, she simply had the robotic maid do it for her. Naturally, just like the time the Jetson’s had two kids – a boy and a girl – and even a dog.
Everything about the future in the world of Jetson’s was the world of the 1960’s just with fancier, more elaborate technology. From the flying cars, to the floating houses to the videophones, everything was an elaborate reproduction of the world of the creative masterminds of the Jetson’s.
However, the Jetson’s managed to portray a world in which the future evolved because of technology. It became a world devoted to technology in every aspect of their lives. Culturally the values represent the 1960’s but the technology was evolved. It controls their life. If one were to get rid of their technology, the Jetson’s would not be able to survive. Their lives would crumble to pieces. The simple tasks and the complex tasks, like our culture is quickly transforming into, were deeply controlled by their technology.
The Jetson’s is an example of the television culture’s to reflect their own culture. Television is not a prophetic medium, it is a reflective medium. It is not used to predict or forecast the future destination of its population but it shows where the culture is residing in the present, in its time, for the sake of its time. As television is studied, observed and put into perspective, this truth of the Jetson’s must be remembered. In order to understand a television show it must be placed into the context of its inception, not the time of the viewer’s existence.