Dr. Rosanne Welch presents Why Monkees Matter: How The Writing Staff of The Monkees Brought the 1960s Counter Culture to Mainstream Pre-Teen Viewers at the 2014 Cal Poly Pomona Provost’s Symposium on Faculty Scholarship (http://www.cpp.edu/~research/)
Very briefly, anti-materialism. This sign was is their room — their apartment — money is the root of all evil. That’s not what were about at all in this program. In fact, they have this marvelous episode called “The Devil and Peter Tork” which has to with Peter selling his soul to the Devil for the talent of playing a harp which he fell in love with at a pawn shop and in the end, they prove to the Devil — they take the Devil to Court to get his soul back and they say, “You never gave him anything. He had the talent within him all the time. He didn’t want fame and fortune. He just wanted his music.” Right, and I love that. “If you love music, you can play it. All it takes is love.” Here’s the Hippy phrase of the period. “Baby in the final analysis, love is power. That’s where the power is at.” It’s “Make Love, Not War!” I mean, it’s all right there built into the storyline. Of course, and old piece of literature right? We’ve got the Devil.
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Based on a chapter in my upcoming book The Metatextual Menagerie that was The Monkees, which includes a series of interviews conducted with surviving writers and performers of the 1960s television program, The Monkees I will discuss how the writers and actors used the show as a platform for their own emerging counter culture/anti-war messages.
Worth studying for its craft and place in television history (the show won an Emmy as Best Comedy Of 1967) the program’s true importance may come from its impact on the politics and culture of the era. Considered innocuous by the network, thepress and the parents of the era, the storylines and jokes created by the writers and the actor’s ad-libs brought the emerging counter-culture to the attention of young teens whose parents might not have appreciated the message. Cultural icons such as Timothy Leary recognized the subversive nature of the program, seen through the writing and in choices made about costuming, hair length, musical guests (Frank Zappa, Tim Buckley, Charlie Smalls) and songs performed by the band brought issues of Vietnam, voting and civil rights to the ‘young generation’ for whom the show clearly had ‘somethin’to say.
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About the Symposium:
The 2014 Provost’s Symposium is a forum to learn about each other’s scholarly work, make new friends, renew old acquaintances, and enhance our appreciation of the rich and diverse array of professional endeavors pursued by the faculty at Cal Poly Pomona.