Jazz music in children’s television
Jazz music in children’s television communicates complex and subversive messages about the constructed notion of the child. As a musical and visual style, jazz has the potential to create a semiotic space for young viewers to explore a range of issues in ways not possible by more widely used genres of music for children. Whether as soundtrack, theme song or live performance on children’s television, jazz music provides the opportunity for resistant readings that undermine the very construction of childhood. I examine the use of jazz in early Hollywood cartoons and in the Hanna-Barbera productions of the early 1960s (The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Yogi Bear and Top Cat) in order to explain how sub-genres of jazz were used to signify age, social status, race and gender. This is followed by a discussion of jazz on Sesame Street and The Muppet Show and how it has been used in didactic, instructional and progressive educational programming, often strategically for its connotations of race and sexuality. I argue that jazz in children’s television offers a forum in which often-complex and contradictory issues of adulthood can be accessed, contextualised and negotiated by the child. The experience that jazz represents negates innocence, the main defining quality of Western childhood. However, as an abstract art form, jazz on television captures the fluidity of childhood and challenges the puritanical and Romantic foundations of its white hetero-normative construction.
Austin, Jake 2002) ‘Hidey Hidey Hidey Ho… Boop-Boop-a-Doop!: The Fleischer Studio and Jazz cartoons’. In The cartoon music book, ed. Daniel Goldmark and Yuval Taylor, 61–66. Chicago: A Cappella Books.
Becker, Howard (1963) Outsiders: Studies in the sociology of deviance. New York: The Free Press.
Bernstein, Robin (2011) Racial Innocence: Performing American Childhood from Slavery to Civil Rights. New York and London: New York University Press. https://doi.org/10.1111/jacc.12006_12
Bickford, Tyler (2012) ‘The new “tween” music industry: The Disney Channel, Kidz Bop and an emerging childhood counterpublic’. Popular Music 31/3: 417–36. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0261143012000335
Bond Stockton, Kathryn (2009) The queer child or growing up sideways in the twentieth century. Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.1215/9780822390268
Bonner, David (2007) Revolutionizing Children’s Records: The Young People’s Records and Children’s Record Guild Series. New York: Scarecrow Press. https://doi.org/10.5860/choice.45-6070
Borgenicht, David (1998) Sesame Street Unpaved: Scripts, stories, secrets and songs. New York: Hyperion Books.
Bradley, Scott (2002) ‘Music in Cartoons’. In The Cartoon Music Book, ed. Daniel Goldmark and Yuval Taylor, 115–20. Chicago: A Cappella Books.
Buckingham David, Davies Hannah, Jones Ken and Kelly Peter (1999) Children’s television in Britain. London: BFI Publishing.
Buckingham, David (2011) The Material Child: Growing up in consumer culture. Cambridge: Polity.
Burdfield, Claire (2017) ‘The Accidental Audience: Industrial management of unexpected television viewerships’. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.
Care, Ross (2002) ‘Make Walt’s Music: Music for Disney Animation 1928–1967’. In The cartoon music book, ed. Daniel Goldmark and Yuval Taylor, 21–36. Chicago: A Cappella Books. https://doi.org/10.1558/jfm.v1i2/3.293
Cook, Nicholas (1994) ‘Music and Meaning in the Commercials’. Popular Music 13/1: 20–40.
Davis, Michael (2009) Street Gang: The complete history of Sesame Street. New York: Penguin Books.
Dewey, John (1897) ‘My pedagogic creed’. Journal of the National Education Association 18/9: 291–95. Reprinted 1929.
Dhaenens, Frederik, and Sofie Van Bauwel (2012) ‘Queer Resistances in the Adult Animated Sitcom’. Television and New Media 13/2: 124–38. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527476411412397
Dyer, Richard (2002) Only Entertainment. New York: Routledge.
Ellis, John (1992) Visible fictions: Cinema, television, video. London: Routledge.
Friedwald, Will (2002) ‘The music of The Simpsons’. In The cartoon music book, ed. Daniel Goldmark and Yuval Taylor, 253–62. Chicago: A Cappella Books.
Goldmark, Daniel (2007) Tunes for ‘Toons: Music and the Hollywood Cartoon. Berkeley: University of California Press. https://doi.org/10.1177/17468477070020020702
Goldmark, Daniel, and Yuval Taylor, eds (2002) The cartoon music book. Chicago: A Cappella Books.
Hansen, Barry, and Earl Kress (2002) ‘An interview with Hoyt Curtin’. In The cartoon music book, ed. Daniel Goldmark and Yuval Taylor, 169–72. Chicago: A Cappella Books.
Kennedy, Kathleen, E. (2009) ‘It’s time to get together for some sex and violence on The Muppet Show?’ In Kermit Culture: Critical perspectives on Jim Henson’s Muppets, ed. Jennifer Garlen and Anissa M. Graham, 142–53. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co Inc.
Kincaid, James (2000) Erotic innocence: The Culture of Child Molesting. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Laver, Mark (2015) Jazz Sells: Music, Marketing and Meaning. Florence: Taylor & Francis.
Leal, Andrew (2009) ‘Muppets and Money’. In Kermit Culture: Critical perspectives on Jim Henson’s Muppets, ed. J. Garlen and A. Graham, 202–216. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co Inc.
Lehman, Christopher P. (2007) American Animated Cartoons of the Vietnam Era: A Study of Social Commentary in Films and Television Programs, 1961–1973. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. https://doi.org/10.5860/choice.44-4881
——(2009) The Colored Cartoon: Black Representation in American Animated Short Films, 1907–1954. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-5931.2009.00577_6.x
MacMillen, Ian, and Masha Kowell (2015) ‘Cartoon Jazz: Soviet Animations and the Khrushchev “Thaw”’. Film & History 45/2: 24–38.
Maudlin, Julie. G. (2009) ‘The Muppet Show as educational critique’. In Kermit Culture: Critical perspectives on Jim Henson’s Muppets, ed. Jennifer C. Garlen and Annisa M. Graham, 170–80. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co Inc.
Messenger Davies, Maire (1995) ‘Babes ’n’ the Hood: Pre-school Television and its Audiences in the United States and Britain’. In In front of the children: screen entertainment and young audiences, ed. Cary Bazalgette and David Buckingham. London: British Film Institute. https://doi.org/10.1177/110330889700500405
Middleton, Richard (1990) Studying Popular Music. Oxford University Press.
Mooney, Carol Garhart (2000) Theories of childhood: An introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget and Vygotsky. Minnesota: Redleaf Press.
Morley, David (1986) Family television: Cultural power and domestic leisure. London: Comedia Publishing Group.
Mote, Jasmin (2011) ‘The Effects of Tempo and Familiarity on Children’s Affective Interpretation of Music’. Emotion 11/3: 618–22. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0022573
Novak, Matt (2011) ‘Why Are There No Black People On The Jetsons?’ Gizmodo. 21 May 2011. Available at: https://paleofuture.gizmodo.com/why-are-there-no-black-people-on-the-jetsons-508743667/ (accessed 16 October 2018).
Nicholson, Stuart (2002) ‘Make mine music and the end of the Swing era’. In The cartoon music book, ed. Daniel Goldmark and Yuval Taylor, 125–35. Chicago: A Cappella Books.
Oswell, David (2002) Television, Childhood, and the Home: A History of the Making of the Child Television Audience in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Pells, Richard (2011) Modernist America: Art, Music, Movies, and the Globalisation of American culture. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1478572212000448
Pillai, Nicolas (2016) Jazz as visual language: Film, television and the dissonant image. London and New York: I.B. Taurus.
Robertson, Venetia Laura Delano (2014) ‘Of ponies and men: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and the Brony fandom’. International Journal of Cultural Studies 17/1: 21–37. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367877912464368
Rose, Jacqueline (1994) The case of Peter Pan or the impossibility of children’s fiction. Revised edition. Basingstoke and London: MacMillan.
Strauss, Neil (2002) ‘Tunes for Toons: A cartoon music primer’. In The cartoon music book, ed. Daniel Goldmark and Yuval Taylor, 5–13. Chicago: A Cappella Books. https://doi.org/10.1558/jfm.v1i2/3.293
Thompson, Stephen (1998) Interview with Chuck Jones. AV Club. Available at: https://www.avclub.com/chuck-jones-1798207866 (accessed on 4 October 2018).
Tillson, Diana, R. (1993) ‘Children’s musical play: the role of the phonograph’. The Ephemera Journal 6 (October): 86-98.
‘Tom and Jerry Online: The music listing’ (2018) Avaiable at: http://www.tomandjerryonline.com/musiclistings.cfm (accessed 19 October 2018).
Yanow, Scott (2004) Jazz on film: The complete story of the musicians and music onscreen. San Francisco: Backbeat Books.
© Equinox Publishing Ltd.
For information regarding our Open Access policy, click here.