, Research Paper
I?m going to start off by saying that until now I never actually thought there was a difference in the way those cartoon characters (the Simpsons) were approached, depending on their gender (not that I watched them too often or anything).
First of all I?ll have to break the characters in two groups, because you cannot compare old people with children. So the first group will be composed of Lisa and Bart (the children) and the second one of Marge and Homer (the parents).
Just by taking a glance at the show you see that it portrays the typical image of the ?traditional American family? of the last decade: mom stays home to cook, clean and take care of the kids, while the husband provides for the family. The little boy is very violent doing a lot of ?cool? things, and of course never studies, while the little girl is very quiet and smart.
There are certain traces of stereotypes in almost all the activities in which the characters engage and that seems to be meant in a funny way. For example, in one episode, Lisa and Bart are taken hostages by a prison escapist in a zeppelin. Using a computer inside the zeppelin you could write on an electronic board outside the zeppelin. Lisa discovers that and writes a message to let everybody know that they are in there and in the middle of it she puts these flashing red hearts… I wonder if they would have done that if Bart were the one writing the message!
This other time Bart gets himself a fake ID, rents a car and goes away for spring break with some friends (he of course lies to his parents); meanwhile Lisa stays home and has fun by going to work with her dad. What?s the message here? ?Boys go off and do crazy things, but girls must stay home, close to the family.?
Bart is always the one who has all the adventures and does all the exciting funny things and Lisa is the smart quiet one always getting him out of trouble. She never holds any grudges, while Bart is mean to her most of the times and always gets his revenge; in other words ?girls, you be silent, boys have the right to do anything.?
But enough of the youngsters, lets talk about the adults too. As I?ve said before, Marge is a housewife; she never directly disagrees with Hommie, her husband, and she?s always the one spoiling the children. She?s also the one doing all the house chores, while Homer enjoys himself in front of the TV. I remember in one episode how well it is showed the way men struggle to maintain the woman?s limitation to the house, and subsequently their economical dependence on them. One day, for some very stupid reason, Homer is fired. The whole family is tormented because they have no other income. Homer tries to get another job, but he fails. In a desperate state Marge proposes to get a job herself: big problem! ?You?! Get a job? You can?t get a job; if you do who will take care of the kids and of the house then? And besides, you don?t know how to do anything.? He goes on arguing about his role in the family and that supporting them made him feel both a good husband and a good father. How about cooking for his kids… wouldn?t that make him a good father? It was incredible the way Homer made every skill that would have helped Marge get a job seem so useless and unimportant.
Another significant thing is that everyday after work, Homer goes to this little bar (called Moe?s) to get drunk, but Marge never drinks.
Also, most of the times when they are visiting somebody Marge helps her host (the woman I mean) clean up after dinner and is asking for recipes, while Homer talks to the ?man of the house? about work and other ?important things?.
In conclusion, I?d say that the overall message that a little kid would get from these cartoons is that girls should be nice and quiet, always around their mothers, while boys are allowed to be naughtier and should be more independent.