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Inventing the Cave ManFrom Darwin to the Flintstones$
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Andrew Horrall

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781526113849

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526113849.001.0001

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Modern times: the Victorian cave man’s long afterlife

Modern times: the Victorian cave man’s long afterlife

Chapter:
(p.170) 7 Modern times: the Victorian cave man’s long afterlife
Source:
Inventing the Cave Man
Author(s):

Andrew Horrall

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9781526113849.003.0007

This chapter shows that the war consolidated the cave man’s status as a global cultural character. Cave men have since been frequently depicted on stage, in films, in advertisements, literature, and more recently on television. Hollywood finally embraced the British conception of comic cave men in the 1920s. By then the character was so completely divorced from earlier evolutionary associations, that religious fundamentalists ignored it. The character has subsequently followed an almost unrelenting downward trajectory into b-movies, cheap comedies and cartoons, and productions that paraded hyper-sexualised women. The slide decelerated in 1960 when The Flintstones, the most influential depiction of cave men, debuted on American television. The series satirised middle-class, suburban America, in much the same spirit as E.T. Reed had once viewed Britain. The chapter concludes by briefly examining more recent depictions of cave men and prehistory in film and television to show that comedy predominates alongside healthy doses of action and attempts at scientific accuracy. Various examples are used to show that women continue to be portrayed in dismissive and overtly sexualised ways and that prehistory still denigrates and dismisses racial minorities. At the same time, the seemingly endless popularity and profitability of cave men films and television series mean that they will continue to be made for years.

Keywords:   B-movies, Boy Scouts, The Flintstones, fundamentalism, Buster Keaton, pageants, television

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