Jan 14, 2022

Bamm-Bamm's Muscles: Gay Promise on "The Flintstones"

Quick, name a cartoon character who came from outer space, was adopted by a human family, and has superpowers?

Right, Bamm-Bamm Rubble.

In an October 3rd, 1963 episode of The Flintstones, about "a modern prehistoric family," Betty and Barney Rubble are upset because they can't have children -- apparently Barney's sperm count is a little low.  They wish on a falling star, and the next morning a baby appears on their doorstep, asleep in a turtle shell, holding a club.

He can only say "Bamm-Bamm," so that becomes his name. He turns out to have superhuman strength, easily carrying furniture and tossing his adopted father around.

As a kid in the 1960s, I was intrigued by Bamm-Bamm's mysterious origin.  Could he be an alien -- a falling star could mean a UFO!  His white hair certainly looked alien.  And the superhuman strength surely meant super muscles!

I didn't see The Flintstones often, so I didn't notice that the writers failed to make much use of Bamm-Bamm's potential.  His supernatural origins were rarely mentioned, and his super-strength became little more than a comic nuisance.

No gay symbolism: in fact, he began expressing toddler heterosexual interest, mooning over toddler-next-door Pebbles, romancing her in baby-talk.  Eventually they were closing episodes by singing the treacly Sunday-school song "Open Up Your Heart (and Let the Sun Shine In)."

In 1971, a highly publicized spin-off appeared, The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show (1971-72, and rerun long after).  With the characters as teenagers!  I watched the first episode instead of the beefcake-heavy live-action Barrier Reef, to see if Bamm-Bamm had transformed into Superboy.

Nope.  No mysterous origin.  No superstrength.  Bamm-Bamm wasn't even built -- he had skinny arms and legs and a shapeless lump of a body.  He and Pebbles went to high school and belonged to a rock band, like everyone on Saturday morning in the 1970s.

I didn't bother with the three tv movies in the 1990s that aged Bamm-Bamm into adulthood.  Apparently he and Pebbles marry and move to Hollyrock, where he becomes a screen writer.  They have two children, Roxy and Chip.

A heterosexist conclusion to a story loaded with gay promise.

At least the Bamm-Bamm costume allows for some interesting cosplay.

See also: The Flintstones and Saturday Morning Muscle.


  1. I did no know about Bamm -Bamm's mysterious origin but that could lead to another different cartoon

  2. The teen Bamm-Bamm looks like a goofy jock type- considering his origin story I'm surprised someone hasn't recycled the character as super hero type

    1. Well, the supervillain Vandal Savage is a caveman who was altered by a meteorite. He's most known for tangling with Speedy because the latter is his descendant. And Roy has a daughter with the terrorist Cheshire. (And now I'm having old-school Dick/Roy bisexual shipping feels. Why do all my favorite Dick Grayson ships involve the 80s?)

      Son Goku was inspired by Sun Wukong with bits of Tarzan, werewolves, and standard wuxia pulp heroes. But in the Dragonball Z era, we learn he's an alien. Then a god of destruction?

  3. White hair (on someone too young to have it naturally) should suggest mystery, villainy, or a curse. At least under modern rules for visual arts.

  4. I'm sure in some future woke new version of "The Flintstone" there will be a gay character.

  5. Was Jay North the voice of Bamm-Bamm?

    1. According to Wikipedia he did the voice of Bamm Bamm, and Sally Struthers voiced Pebbles before she quit to work on "All in the Family"


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