Simpsons(A) Essay, Research Paper
I DIDN’T DO ITHow The Simpsons Affects Kids The Simpsons is one of Americas most popular television shows. It ranks as thenumber one television program for viewers under eighteen years of age. However, theideals that The Simpsons conveys are not always wholesome, sometimes not even ingood taste. It is inevitable that The Simpsons is affecting children. Matt Groening took up drawing to escape from his troubles in 1977. At thetime, Groening was working for the L.A. Reader, a free weekly newspaper. He beganworking on Life in Hell, a humorous comic strip consisting of people with rabbit ears.The L.A. Reader picked up a copy of his comic strip and liked what they saw. Life inHell gradually became a common comic strip in many free weeklies and collegenewspapers across the country. It even developed a cult status. (Varhola, 1) Life in Hell drew the attention of James L. Brooks, producer of works such asTaxi, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Terms of Endearment. Brooks originallywanted Groening to make an animated pilot of Life in Hell. Groening chose not to doso in fear of loosing royalties from papers that printed the strip. Groening presentedBrooks with an overweight, balding father, a mother with a blue beehive hairdo, andthree obnoxious spiky haired children. Groening intended for them to represent thetypical American family “who love each other and drive each other crazy”. Groeningnamed the characters after his own family. His parents were named Homer andMargaret and he had two younger sisters named Lisa and Maggie. Bart was an anagramfor “brat”. Groening chose the last name “Simpson” to sound like the typical Americanfamily name. (Varhola, 2) Brooks decided to put the 30 or 60 second animations on between skits on TheTracy Ullman Show on the unsuccessful Fox network. Cast members Dan Castellanetaand Julie Kavner did the voices of Homer and Marge. Yeardley Smith (later to star inHerman’s Head) did the voice of Lisa. Nancy Cartwright did the voice of Bart.Cartwright previously supplied the voices for many cartoons, including Galaxy High,Fantastic Max, Richie Rich, Snorks, Pound Puppies, My Little Pony, and Glo-Friends.Tracy Ullman later added Cartwright to her cast. (Dale and Trich, 11) Brooks, Groening, and Sam Simon, Tracy Ullman’s producer, wanted to turn theSimpson family into their own show. The Fox network was looking for material toappeal to younger viewers. The only show they had that drew a young audience wasMarried With Children. To Fox’s pleasure, The Simpsons saved the network from nearfailure. (Varhola, 3) On December 17, 1989, The Simpsons got their break. The Christmas special,”Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” aired. (Dale and Trich, 19) In the episode, Bart got a tattoo, much to Marge’s dislike. She quickly spent allof the family’s Christmas money to remove Bart’s tattoo with a laser. At the same time,Homer, still on his morning coffee break at 4:00 in the afternoon, learns that he will notreceive a Christmas bonus. When he learns that Marge is relying on the money forChristmas, he decides that he will do the Christmas shopping for the year. He quicklybuys Marge panty hose, Bart paper, Lisa crayons, and Maggie a dog toy. When herealizes that he is not doing very well, he gets a second job as a mall Santa for the extramoney. On the way home from work, he steals a Christmas tree. The next day at themall, Bart sits on his Dad’s lap and pulls down his beard. Homer responds by chokingBart and making him help make Christmas better. On Christmas Eve, Homer receiveshis check, $13.70 for over 40 hours work. Homer takes Bart to the dog track as a finalchance for Christmas money. They discovered a gem in the third race, Santa’s LittleHelper. How could this dog loose on Christmas Eve? The odds were 99 to 1, they weregoing to be rich. Homer put all of his money on Santa’s Little Helper, and to his horror,he never even finished. As Homer and Bart were scouring the parking lot for winningtickets into the night, they saw the track manager throw out a dog. It was not just anydog, it was Santa’s Little Helper. When Bart and Homer came home to their worriedfamily, they had a good Christmas after all. Now they had a dog. (Pond) “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” was not the typical Christmas story. Itdealt with body art, sleeping in the work place, sibling rivalry, stealing a Christmas tree,a misbehaved son, and gambling. Although it was unorthodox, it was very successful.The Fox network decided to air it again on Christmas Eve. (Dale and Trich, 19) In a little over a month, The Simpsons made it’s debut as a weekly show, “Bartthe Genius” was the first regular episode. In the middle of a feared assessment test,Bart switches his test with the completed one of Nelson Prince, Class Nerd. Bart andhis parents are called into Principal Seymour Skinner’s office where they are told thatBart has a 216 IQ. (Homer thought is was 912.) Skinner requests that Bart attends TheEnriched Learning Center for Children. Suddenly, Homer takes a liking to his son.They joke together, play ball together, embarrass Marge at an opera together.(”Toreador, oh don’t spit on the floor. Use the cuspidor. That’s what it’s for.” Bart singsalong with the opera Carmen.) Soon at Bart’s old school, Springfield ElementarySchool, Bart’s graffiti is roped off and tagged, “The Principal. By Bart Simpson. IQ216.” Bart’s friend no longer like him, they refer to him as Poindexter. The kids at hisnew school trick him into giving up his lunch. In frank, Bart is miserable. Then, afterturning himself green in an uneducated science experiment, Bart reveals to his newprincipal that he cheated on the test. That night, as Homer is helping Bart clean himselfoff, Bart tells Homer the same. Homer instantly transforms into a murderous rampageagain. The episode ends with Bart locking himself in his room and Homer trying toknock down the door so he can tear Bart into pieces. (Vitti) Soon, Simpsons merchandise was all over America. Every kid wanted an “Underachiever and Proud of It, Man” or an “I’m Bart Simpson, Who the Hell Are You?” shirt. Hats could be seen everywhere that had Bart dressed like a devil saying “Go For It, Dude!” or with Homer, his arms open, lunging forward saying “Why You Little.” The most popular shirt was a family picture with Homer choking Bart. During the first week of school in 1990, two thirds of the sixth graders in America wore Simpsons paraphernalia. (Dale and Trich, 43) As the popularity of The Simpsons grew, so did parents’ fears. To their horror,Bart Simpson became a role model. “Aye Carumba!” was a popular expression amongkids. Almost anything a child did wrong was attributed to “last Sunday’s Simpsons.”(Dale and Trich, 45) Bad ideas continued to be broadcast into kids’ minds. In the third episode, ababy-sitter robbed the Simpson household of most of it’s belongings. In the fourthepisode, Homer caused a nuclear accident, got fired, and attempted suicide. Bart stolethe head off of the statue of Jebidiah Springfield, Springfield’s founder in the sixthepisode. In the eighth episode, Bart took a picture of Homer with an exotic dancer anddistributed them to the entire town. Marge had an affair in the ninth episode. Homerstole cable, and almost everything else imaginable in the fifteenth episode. (Groening,37) The Simpsons is often viewed as one of the biggest threats to Christianity. The
Simpson family goes to church on a regular basis, but Bart and Homer loath it. Atypical Sunday School conversation is as follows:Child: “Will my dog, Fluffy go to heaven?” Sunday School Teacher: “No” Other Child: “How about my cat?” Teacher: “No, Heaven is only for people.” Bart: “What if my leg gets gangrene and has to be amputated? Will it be waiting for me in heaven? Teacher: “Yes” Bart: “What about a robot with a human brain?” Teacher: “I don’t know! Is a little blind faith too much to ask for?”(Pepoon) The pastor, Reverend Lovejoy is a hypocrite. In “22 Short Films About Springfield” he leads his dog to the Flanders’ yard to go to the bathroom. He praisesthe dog until Ned Flanders comes outside. He then acts angry and threatens the dogwith hell. When Ned leaves, he praises the dog again. (Swartzwelder) In one episode,Homer quits going to church and falls in love with life. He claims to have his ownreligion so he doesn’t have to go to work on holidays, such as the Feast of MaximumOccupancy. In a conversation with Lisa:Lisa: “Dad, I don’t understand, why have you dedicated yourself to livinga life of blasphemy?” Homer: “Don’t worry Lisa, if I’m wrong, I’ll repent on my death bed.” (Meyer) The Simpsons is not just an enemy of Christianity, though. In one episode,where Krusty the Clown is reunited with his father, a rabbi, almost the entire episode isspent making fun of Judaism. Lisa asks Bart, “Do you know what a rabbi’s most valuedpossession is?” Bart replied, “I dunno, those stupid little hats.” Hinduism is constantlyjoked with by using East Indian, Kwik-E-Mart clerk, Apu Mahasapeemapitalon. Apu isonce asked is he is Hindu. He replied, “By the thousand arms of Bishna, I swear it is alie.” Once Homer was in the Kwik-E-Mart:Homer: “Hey Apu. No offensive, but when they were handing out religions, you must have been on the can.” Apu: “Mr. Simpson, please take your jerky and get out and come again!”(Meyer) The average child can acquire a plethora of foul words from one episode. In”Flaming Moe’s”, Bart is “jinxed”, meaning he can’t talk until somebody says his name. Homer: “What is it boy?”Bart: [Grunts]Homer: “Us anything the matter, my son? Talk to me young man.”Bart: [Takes a pencil and writes 'Say my name.]Homer: “Say your name? Why should I do that, my lad?”Bart: “Because I’m jinxed damnit!”Homer: [Punches Bart in the arm.]Bart: “Ow! What was that for!”Homer: You spoke while you were jinxed, so I get to punch you in the arm! Sorry, it’s the law!” (Cohen) Homer Simpson definitely has the worst influence on children. Once, Homeroverheard Ralph Wiggum say the he would do anything for Lisa. In the next scene,Ralph is coating the Simpson’s roof in tar. Ralph calls out, “Mr. Simpson, the tar fumesare making me dizzy.” Homer, relaxing in a hammock replies, nonchalantly, “Yeah,they’ll do that.” Homer fits the genera of the parent who pressures his kid to do well insports. In one episode, after Bart scored a winning goal, Homer congratulated him,”Okay Bart, you won the hockey game. Now, just as I promised, here’s your turtle, aliveand unhurt.” Homer got angry at Marge once for spending lots of money to vaccinateMaggie against diseases she doesn’t have. His advice on how to get out of jury duty is”to tell them that you’re prejudiced against all races.” His self proclaimed, best adviceis, “Sometimes the only way you can feel good about yourself is to make other peoplelook stupid.” (Groening, 26) Personally, I believe that The Simpsons affects children, but not necessarily in abad way. Children never hurt themselves mimicking The Three Stooges, nor do theywith The Simpsons. Almost every episode ends with a family that loves each other. Some episodes have answered the question of them affecting children on theirown. Once, Marge began to protest Itchy and Scratchy cartoons. Itchy is apsychopathic mouse who’s only purpose is to kill and torture Scratchy, a cat. Nearingthe end of the episode, Marge realizes that Itchy and Scratchy is not hurting anyone.They take a satirical view to the situation when a group of mothers try to stopMichaelangelo’s David from visiting the Springfield Museum of Art by means that it ispornographic. (Koger and Wolodarsky) Unlike many sitcoms, The Simpsons is more like everyday life. Homer works ina power plant. In many other sitcoms, the father works a popular job, such as anaccountant, or with a television studio. The Simpson family is not a wealthy familyliving in a $300,000 house. Many children can relate to this. (Rebeck, 622) In some cases, The Simpsons is educational. Karen Brecze credits Homer Simpson with saving her 8-year-old son, Alex’s life. Bence, of Auburn, Washington, says the boy was choking on an orange when his 10-year-old brother, Chris, used the Heimlich maneuver, which he learned from “Homer at the Bat”, where Homer is choking on a doughnut. Unlike Alex, Homer doesn’t receive help and coughs up thedoughnut as his co-workers look at the Heimlich maneuver poster. (Dyer, D3) The Simpsons affects kids, just as anything around them will. Perhaps peoplefear The Simpsons because they can see a little of The Simpsons in themselves. We allhave inner child’s trying to get out that behave just like Bart. We all do “pull a Homer”sometimes. It just happens. The show doesn’t make us do it. It just happens. If thisworld did not have The Simpsons children would behave in the same manner, they justmight laugh quite as much.
“22 Short Films About Springfield.” The Simpsons. By: John Swartzwelder, Dir: JimReardon, Prof: James L. Brooks. Fox. WHNS, Greenville. 12 May, 1996. “Bart the Genius.” The Simpsons. By: John Vitti, Dir: David Silverman, Prod: James L. Brooks. Fox. WHNS, Greenville. 14 Jan, 1990Dale, Steve, and Shane Tritsh. Simpson Mania. Lincolnwood: PublicationsInternational, Ltd., 1991. “Flaming Moe’s.” The Simpsons. By: Robert Cohen, Dir: Rich Moore and Alan Smart,Prod: James L. Brooks. Fox. WHNS, Greenville. 21 Nov, 1991Groening, Matt. The Simpsons Uncensored Family Album. New York: Harper Perennial, 1994. “Homer at the Bat.” The Simpsons. By: John Swartzwelder, Dir: Jim Reardon, Prod:James L. Brooks. Fox. WHNS, Greenville. 20 Feb, 1992″Homer the Heretic.” The Simpsons. By: George Meyer, Dir: Jim Reardon, Prod:James L. Brooks. Fox. WHNS, Greenville. 8 Oct., 1992″Homer’s Odyssey.” The Simpsons. By: Jay Choker and Wallaby Wolodarsky, Dir:Wesley Archer, Prod: James L. Brooks. Fox. WHNS, Greenville. 21 Jan,1990″Homer Simpson Saves the Day.” San Francisco Chronicle 21 May, 1992: D3″Homer VCR. Lisa and the Eighth Commandment.” The Simpsons. By: Steve Pepsin,Dir: Rich Moore, Prod: James L. Brooks. Fox. WHNS, Greenville. 7 Feb, 1991″Itchy & Scratchy & Marge.” The Simpsons. By: John Swartzwelder, Dir: Jim Reardon,Prod: James L. Brooks. Fox. WHNS, Greenville. 20 Dec, 1990″Like Father, Like Clown.” The Simpsons. By: Jay Choker and Wallaby Wolodarsky,Dir: Jefferson Lynch with Brad Bird, Prod. James L. Brooks. Fox. WHNS,Greenville. 24 Oct., 1991Rebeck, Victoria. “Recognizing Ourselves in the Simpsons” The Christian Century 27June, 1990. Varhola, Aaron. “The Simpsons” Dies. 1994.