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/)
Feminism is what struck me, because we’re all little girls watching this program and because of the way TV today. something that I — I do enjoy The Big Bang Theory, but really it’s a show about who’s going to have sex with which girl this week and that’s kind of what happens to females on TV sometimes these days. Because we had rules back in the day. Four musicians should be about that, too, and yet they weren’t. Every girl that they met on this program in 58 episodes had her own job, took care of herself, was going to school, cared about the culture, and the world, was involved insocial justice issues. Nobody was a cheerleader. Nobody was “Rah, Rah, Look at me! I’ma ditzy blonde and I have no brain.” They were all intelligent, interesting, young women.
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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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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.