Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Vintage Cartoon Weirdness

There are a lot of things that we can look back on and wonder what in the hell we were thinking. High school. The 70s. That shrimp that you thought might taste a little funny, but figured it would probably be OK. And while it's crystal clear NOW that they weren't good choices THEN, for some reason, at the time, they seemed like perfectly reasonable things to do. (But we still don't know why we did them. Especially that shrimp. SUCH a bad choice.)

So when I look back on television ads from the 60s that were advertising products that you can't advertise on TV any more, I wonder what in the hell people were thinking. WHY did more than one individual think, "That sounds GREAT! We'll sell a million of these!"? Of course I'm talking about cigarette commercials. Specifically, Winston cigarette commercials. More specifically, Winston cigarette commercials starring The Flintstones. Wait. What?

I guess Winston was like the official sponsor of The Flintstones when it first aired on September 30, 1960. (Wait. 19-freaking-60?! Holy crap. For those of you not willing to do the math, that's 48 years ago! Wait. Now I don't want to do the math.) The Flintstones had been promoted as being an "adult cartoon". Now, clearly, an "adult cartoon" in 1960 had an entirely different meaning than if you were marketing an "adult cartoon" in 2008. (If you can't figure out the difference, here's a hint: One of the "adult cartoons" would be porn. Here's another hint: It wouldn't be The Flintstones.) I guess that's why they felt like they could have the stars of the cartoon promote the cigarettes. I guess that's also why they felt like they could have the stars of the cartoon be portrayed as jackasses. Smoking jackasses. Behold!






First of all, Betty whacking on the dead animal pelt/rug thing is hilarious. It's almost as funny as Barney pulling the pack of Winston's out from the inside of his shirt. Kind of like Popeye did with the spinach (only with more carcinogens and extra nicotine-y goodness).

But it's not like that was the only commercial that The Flintstones did for cigarettes. Oh, there were more. Here's another one:






OK, did you catch the line where Fred says (in reference to the cigarettes), "They've really got something!" (Yes, Fred. They DO! They have tar! And many other carcinogens! And nicotine, which will get you so damn addicted the things that you'll find it damn near impossible to quit! And hey! Psst! Fred! They'll also GIVE you a few things too. Things like emphysema and cancer!) And then when Rocky the cigarette shopkeep answers, "You bet your life", yeah, sadly, he wasn't kidding, was he? Oh, the irony.

Even though The Flintstones was supposed to be an "adult cartoon", those who had given the OK for the cigarette company as a sponsor finally realized that the "adult cartoon" might be appealing to children (who might :gasp!: want to watch it!). And that revelation led to the end of the "cigarette-sponsored Flintstones." Oh, The Flintstones stayed on the air. But when they were moved to an earlier time slot, instead of smoking cigarettes during the commercials, Fred and Wilma ended up promoting grape jelly and multi-vitamins. (Isn't "Flintstones Chewables" a vitamin? Isn't that a little strange? "Here, kids! Put this tablet that looks just like me in your mouth, chew me up and gulp me down! That way I can help you grow big and strong!" Ick.) Ah, whatever. I'm just glad Fred and Barney didn't end up throwing back shots with Hillary at some point. At least someone can look back on that decision and think it actually was a good idea.

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