10 Things I Learned From 'The Flintstones' (Movie!)
I didn’t care about anything as much as I cared about The Flintstones when I was 10. Like, actually nothing. Nothing at all. Why? Because this movie is an underrated treasure. A TREASURE. (She screamed, effectively waking up her cat.) Also: because one weekend, my best friends and I watched it endlessly, and I forced them to learn the dance from the movie while watching it on a 48-hour loop.
I AM FUN.
But not as fun as the likes of Rosie O’Donnell, Rick Moranis, Elizabeth Perkins, and John Goodman joining forces to deliver the live-action version of a 1960s cartoon. Did anyone ask for it? Not necessarily. But SOME OF US—despite how preposterous it may have seemed to adults—lived for grown-up actors in prehistoric gear accompanied by a soundtrack with the B-52s.
So grab your McDonald’s toys and cereal box collectors’ items (we all kept them, right?), and join me in discovering the 10 things I learned from 1994’s The Flintstones.
1. This is the greatest cast assembled in the history of cinema
THE GREATEST. Don’t believe me? Well why don’t we ask Mr. Twin Peaks himself, Kyle MacLachlan, who plays Fred’s evil boss? Or why don’t we talk to HALLE BERRY who played the underestimated Ms. Stone? OR how about our good friend ELIZABETH TAYLOR who portrayed Wilma’s mother. Ultimately, it’s a crime we don’t talk about this movie every day because the casting alone is worth that discussion. Also: we miss you, Rick Moranis. Come back.
2. It was your duty as a ’90s child to learn the Bedrock Twitch
And that is how I choose to defend my choice in forcing my friends to watch and re-watch and then learn the “Bedrock Twitch”—the prehistoric version of the B52’s “Love Shack,” which came with important dance moves none of us could actually carry off because they involved lifting. BUT WE PRETENDED. I bet you still know the moves, if you were anything like me. And even if you weren’t, I bet you still wish you’d learned them when you had the chance. (TWITCH! TWITCH!)
3. It would be the best to grow up and become Elizabeth Taylor in The Flintstones
And as I type this I’m not sure I mean Elizabeth Taylor the actor or Elizabeth Taylor the character who approaches Barney and says, “Take a hike, shorty. My Freddy, doesn’t want your [something] thing.” That quote was everything to me. All I wanted in LIFE was an opportunity to say that to somebody. Even NOW all I want is an opportunity to say that to somebody. She just comes out of nowhere and dismisses Barney and his briefcase as if she’s been on Fred’s side the whole time! THE POWER. THE AUDACITY. THE HAIR.
With great hair comes great responsibility, let me tell you.
4. Adulthood is not as much fun as The Flintstones made it seem
The thing about The Flintstones is that as a concept, it’s like playing house. You usually get into it (or got into it—I don’t know if the reruns are still on TV or not) when you’re too young to do anything around the house yourself, so seeing kitchens and living rooms and cars reconstructed to suit the prehistoric age seems like the most novel and genius idea. Then, you get older and know how those things work and think, UGH. I HAVE TO DO THE DISHES. AGAIN. BECAUSE I USED THE DISHES I OWN. And then you understand why Fred splurged on a new garbage dispenser pig thing.
5. This movie sends an important message about class
So the whole point of The Flintstones is this: money doesn’t do anything but make you able to buy things. It doesn’t buy class, it doesn’t buy friends, or loyalty, or anything. It’s just money. And, a lot of money can lead to classist behavior, which is dangerous. It squashes hopes and dreams and it keeps “lower classes” oppressed and struggling. I mean, it doesn’t HAVE to do that, but it can. And Fred loses himself in that, effectively becoming the 1% to Barney and Betty’s 99%. Of course, he then bottoms out. But this movie actually does a really good job of depicting Fred as a man so consumed by status that he loses who he is. And we get to see how and why. (Which is something I don’t think any of us thought we’d see happen in a movie called The Flintstones.)
6. It also straight-up addresses sexism
So Halle Berry’s character (Ms. Stone) is objectified for pretty much the entire movie. Her job is to act as a sexual object and Kyle MacLachlan treats her as such. Then, she goes in, and “seduces” Fred—but not really—so he’ll take the fall for Kyle MacLachlan. She’s surprised when Fred talks to her like a real person and calls her smart, and then she eventually stops Kyle MacLachlan from . . . killing the kids? Is that what happened? Something like that. SHE FOILS THE BAD GUY is what I’m saying. So, Halle Berry’s character endures some serious sexism, and eventually learns she doesn’t need to be objectified. Go Flintstones!
7. It is not actually legal for a store to destroy credit cards
Now, on a very different note, let’s talk about when Betty and Barney are in serious financial trouble. And Betty has to buy all the things Bam Bam broke (that is a sentence I just wrote!), and her credit card is declined, and the cashier DESTROYS HER CARD. Look. I absolutely grew up thinking that’s what happened, so when I got a credit card I basically lived in fear of it being smashed with a hammer. (At least proverbially. Only an actual psychopath would do that IRL.) BUT GUESS WHAT: the worst that actually happens is, “Oh . . . it didn’t go through . . . ?” And a sad expression. That’s it. I’m actually 99% sure that if someone cut up your card without permission, you’re entitled to get really upset.
8. Barney is a better friend than any of us
And I say that because he switches tests with Fred despite knowing that Fred is not a smart person and has absolutely failed his promotion test. Guess who would not do that: me. I’m sorry. I won’t do that. Like, if you’re my best friend and you bombed an exam, I’m not switching my exam with your exam. That’s not how the world works. That’s actually not going to help anybody, ESPECIALLY the person whose test you switched. AS WE CAN SEE. So maybe the real lesson is Barney is a TERRIBLE friend.
JK JK JK he is a wonderful human being and I am just a regular one and I’m fine with that.
9. Wilma Flintstone is a total boss
And so is Betty, don’t get me wrong, but Wilma RAN THE SHOW. She ran it! Even when Fred yells about things, she looks at him like, “What’s wrong with you this is embarrassing” and he knows it. This is why her mother is Elizabeth Taylor. Because Elizabeth Taylor would also throw the same amounts of shade.
10. ALSO: this movie is INSANELY heavy
Probably the biggest lesson I learned from The Flintstones—especially as an adult—is that this movie is HEAVY. In no particular order, it deals with: elitism, sexism, adoption, the question of what makes a family (Remember when BETTY AND BARNEY ALMOST LOSE BAM-BAM? Like, hello, real tears), corruption, embezzlement . . . and more. I’m confident that if this movie was made in 2014, we’d be having real conversations about why this kids’ movie—with adults dressed like cartoon characters—was brave enough to cover all this ground. And yes, obviously, some parts are TOTALLY for children (see: a giant steak that tips over Fred’s car), but the rest? Guys. IT’S REAL.
And I’ll admit it: I still aspire to Wilma’s fancy-person hair.