May 6, 2013

Encounters with the Tripods: Heterosexism on 1960s Children's TV

It's hard to remember my first encounter with the Tripods, the army of adults, parents, teachers, neighbors, babysitters, coaches, youth ministers, and complete strangers who kept insisting that heterosexual desire was universal human experience, that I, like all boys, would soon become obsessed with the feminine, that no man in the history of the world had ever loved men.

1. Maybe Flipper, not the tv series but the feature film.  It premiered on August 14, 1963, when I was not yet three years old, but I must have seen it on tv later, because it felt odd and disquieting. The "wrong" Porter Ricks, no Bud, Sandy (Luke Halpin) as a little kid -- and he likes a girl!


2. Or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeerwhich aired on December 6, 1964, and every Christmas thereafter. It ended with Rudolph getting a girlfriend and his Elf buddy Hermie dancing with a girl.

3. Or Hercules and the Princess of Troy, which aired on September 12, 1965, just as I entered kindergarten.  A retelling of the Perseus story, with Hercules (1950s Tarzan Gordon Scott) rescuing the Princess (Diana Hylund), and falling in love with her.




4. Or The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood, which aired on November 28, 1965, just after my fifth birthday.  A retelling of the "Red Riding Hood" tale with Red (Liza Minnelli) outsmarting an effeminate wolf and falling for the handsome woodman (Vic Damone).

Although Eric Burdon and the Animals were cute as the Wolf's juvenile delinquent gang.





But it was probably something more personal.

5. I was around four years old, and watching a children's program that I called Land of Ziggy Zaggy, but it was actually The Land of Ziggy Zoggo, aka The Nancy Berg Show (1962-65).  

Apparently my Dad thought I was mesmerized by Ms. Berg's pulchritude rather than her storytelling.  Passing by, he laughed and said "Look, Boomer has a girlfriend!"