Watch the clip above for a comp of all “Monkee Men” (superhero alter-egos) footage via the Dial B for Blog.

The explicit “boy-ness” of the Monkees’ antics and adventures, typically parodying boy-culture staples such as westerns, gangster films, boxing and superheroes in their adventures is counterintuitive to the supposed interest in cultivating a adolescent girl fan base.

The pleasure girls derive from watching The Monkees implies a vicarious engagement in the homosocial pleasures of boy-culture from which they are excluded as they approach puberty. Young girls simply don’t have “buddies” the way boys do. Therefore, the selection of a “favorite” not only allows a girl the limited agency of choice, it capitalizes on a desire to both “crush” on a chosen boy and perhaps more so to identify with one.

She watches to insert herself into the goofy buddy narrative she is denied in life.

Allowing this reading, the producers would have had an economic interest in artificially distinguishing one Monkee from the others in order to give the illusion of choice, but to keep his personal agency limited so that he might bear the projections of the teenybopper’s fantasies of “sameness”.

The Monkees are not only the objects of the gaze (which is no longer clearly “male”), they are subject to a mini-discourse within which they must become the image-based canvases of projected meanings—a bizarre inversion of gender discourses in the larger world.

Flipping Laura Mulvey’s words, boy band teen idols are “…bound by a symbolic order in which [woman] can live out [her] fantasies and obsessions through linguistic command by imposing on them the silent image of [teen idol] still tied to [his] place a bearer, not marker of meaning”.

In other words, as “bodies caught in the regime of images” the Monkees are subordinated into a vessel designed to harness the teenage girls’ imagined agency.

Unlike a Carey Grant or Robert Redford character, the bopper does not derive erotic/romantic satisfaction observing her idol “get the girl”—he must remain celibate. This is not only because she perceives the actress as an opponent, rather she experiences a crisis of identification. The girl on television might live out the bopper’s fantasies but the bopper is loath to identify with the actress for it compromises her membership among “the boys” which is in fact the prevailing desire.

Check Dial B for Blog’s Monkee Men Comic