Vintage Sexism: Car of Tomorrow (Tex Avery) Edition

On my most recent nostalgia kick, I was browsing YouTube for old Looney Tunes episodes, and I inevitably stumbled across Tex Avery’s “technology of the future” series.  Now, I was fully prepared for a healthy dose of vintage sexism going into this venture — but I don’t remember it being this bad. While all four episodes, The Car of Tomorrow, The House of Tomorrow, The Farm of Tomorrow, and The TV of Tomorrow, all capitalize off the woman-as-housewife or woman-as-sex-object narrative, Tex Avery goes overboard in The Car of Tomorrow. Car technology has certainly evolved since the 1950’s. But sexist stereotypes? Not one bit.

Some gems to look out for in this six minute episode: the woman’s car, complete with breasts and buttock (1:07); the emasculating, backseat driver (2:46); the garage for women (3:02); the inept-at-directions woman (3:31); and the car for date-rapists (4:54).

Anyone up for directing my new screenplay, “Men of Tomorrow”? I can tell you who it won’t feature: Tex Avery.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted March 17, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    “Anyone up for directing my new screenplay, “Men of Tomorrow”? I can tell you who it won’t feature: Tex Avery.”

    Probably not, since he passed away in 1980. I prefer Clampett. Avery may have been an innovative cartoonist in many ways, but he was quite the product of his time in others. You might or might not want to look up “Swing Shift Cinderella”. I often remember as a child seeing “Car of Tomorrow” and other such cartoons, and while finding them funny overall, feeling very disconnected from the women depicted. I think they leave an important social record–through the simplification of the cartoon short medium, we can see what was considered socially acceptable and even funny in bygone eras. Kind of handy to remind ourselves of these things when people talk about going back to “the good old days”. The weren’t necessarily good for everyone.

  2. Posted March 17, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    I’ve remembered seeing some cartoons like this. A lot of these stereotypes really have grown tired in mainstream culture, and while they generally aren’t completely dead, average people aren’t all that pleased with them either (even some of the more flagrant sexists will find these devices out of touch). We do hear a lot more from the fringe nowadays, but the mainstream is actually getting better.

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