Flintstones have no friend here

May 27, 1994|By KEVIN COWHERD

It started a few nights ago, a horrible dream that left me shaken and sweat-soaked and obsessing about . . . the Flintstones.

They were all there in the dream: Fred and Wilma, Betty and Barney Rubble and all their annoying kids and grinning domesticated dinosaurs, chasing me with flaming torches and yelling "Yabba-dabba-doo!" as we traversed some prehistoric suburban hell.

And everywhere overhead there were huge, billowing clouds of smoke from a thousand pot-bellied cavemen grilling big, greasy bronto-burgers.

"Why am I having this dream?!" I asked my wife after one particularly bad episode.

She said nothing. In fact, when I looked over, she was lying there with her eyes closed.

"Oh, my God, she's dead!" I screamed, leaping out of bed and sobbing hysterically.

Then I realized it was 3 in the morning and she was probably just sleeping, which made me feel a lot better, although frankly the dream was still bothering me.

The point (yes, yes, there is a point to all this) is that there is no escaping the Flintstones anymore, not even when you sleep.

After weeks of relentless hype, "The Flintstones" movie has finally opened. And if the trailers for this baby are any indication, it looks goofy enough to make "The Addams Family" look like "Citizen Kane."

Naturally, the inevitable commercialization has also begun, and we're being asked to buy Flintstones backpacks, Flintstones lunch pails, Flintstones posters and all sorts of Flintstones toys.

The whole business is getting ugly. I was at McDonald's the other day, and I asked the 16-year-old Metallica disciple behind the counter for a diet soda.

Suddenly, his eyes shone with the eerie glow of the true company fanatic, and he said: "You want a Bedrock mug?"

"I . . . just want a Diet Coke," I said.

Which apparently was the wrong thing to say, because now he was pounding his fist on the counter and almost shouting: "But we have Bedrock mugs!"

Bedrock mugs, Flintstones Happy Meals . . . our society keeps unraveling at an astonishing pace.

But this is what happens when a potential blockbuster movie is accompanied by a $100 million marketing campaign.

People get carried away. In the New York Times, the movie's director, Brian Levant, was quoted as saying of the Flintstones: "They are spokesmen, celebrated figures in our culture. You don't make a Pez dispenser out of just anyone."

Well, no, but . . . does anyone else have a problem with the idea of Fred and Barney as spokesmen?

Me, when I think of a spokesman, I think of, oh, Henry Kissinger. Or maybe James Earl Jones.

I don't think of . . . Barney Rubble.

Besides, I'm not sure how much clout Barney brings to the world of product endorsement.

If I come out with a new line of, say, radial tires, I don't think I %% want Barney Rubble hawking them for me on TV.

Look, maybe you can get away with plastering Barney's homely mug on a children's vitamin.

But seeing it on a pair of Michelin P215/70SR14's is not going to fill the average tire customer with confidence.

This is probably neither here nor there, but I find this whole outbreak of Flintstones mania puzzling, since the original TV series wasn't that hot to begin with.

Let's face it, Bedrock itself was a nothing little burg. A rock quarry, 20 or 30 dreary ranchers with a quarter-acre of property, that was about it.

What was it Gertrude Stein said about Oakland: "There's no there there"?

Look, Oakland is Paris in the springtime compared with Bedrock.

Plus, let's face it, Fred was an unbelievably dense human being who always seemed as if he'd just had an anvil dropped on his head.

Wilma's voice sounded like a heavy appliance being dragged across linoleum. Betty could fill out a saber-toothed-tiger skin but seemed to operate in a giggly haze of prescription sedatives.

And Barney . . . Barney was nothing more than a yes-man for Fred. Barney had no backbone. If Fred said jump, Barney said: "How high?"

Don't get me started on those bratty kids, either. Pebbles, Bam-Bam . . . this is why they used to build reform schools.

The thing is, I'll probably end up seeing "The Flintstones" like every other sucker.

I'll pony up 350 bucks, or whatever it costs to drag three kids to see a movie these days.

Then I'll settle back with a big tub of popcorn soaked in artery-clogging coconut oil to see what all the fuss is about.

I will not, however, be buying any Barney Rubble radials.



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