The Simpsons 2 Essay, Research Paper
“The Simpsons”, created by cartoonist Matt Groening, first appeared in 1987 as a series of 30-second spots produced by Groening for the FOX series “The Tracey Ullman Show.” Response to the spots was so positive that “The Simpsons” premiered on FOX network as a half-hour Christmas special on Dec. 17, 1989, and then as a regular series on Jan. 14, 1990.
“The Simpsons” is an edgy series that deals with family, society and environmental issues using satire of all types. Now the longest running prime time animated series in television history, “The Simpsons” have won many awards for exceptional work.
The Simpson family lives in the town of Springfield. Homer (age 36) works at the local nuclear power plant and is usually portrayed as the least intelligent character in the town (if not the world). Marge (age 34), who is a loving wife and mother holds the Simpson family together. Bart (age 10) is a clever, school-hating boy who can instantly change from good to evil. Lisa (age 8) is an extremely intelligent girl who is the moral voice of the family. The final family member, Maggie (age 1) conveys a wide range of emotions through the simple, but effective method of sucking on a pacifier.
The episode that I am reviewing is called “Homer Goes To College”. The sequence begins at the Springfield nuclear power plant where the Nuclear Regulatory Commission makes a surprise inspection of the plant. When Homer accidentally causes a real meltdown during a mere test in a simulation van, the NRC officials tell Mr. Burns (Homer’s employer) that Homer’s job requires university training in nuclear physics. Homer applies for college, but when all his applications are rejected, Burns uses his influence to get him accepted to Springfield University.
After the hapless Homer causes an accident in his nuclear physics class, his physics professor recommends that he be tutored by three young “nerds”: Gary, Doug, and Benjamin. Instead, Homer revels in University life and involves them in a prank to kidnap the pig mascot of a nearby Springfield fraternity. The “nerds” are caught and expelled from the University by Dean Peterson.
Homer schemes to get the “nerds” readmitted using techniques seen in movies, but the caper goes awry and Homer runs the dean over in a car. At the hospital, Homer admits to Peterson that the pig prank was his idea and the “nerds” are allowed to return to school. When Homer flunks his exam, the “nerds” change his grade on the computer to an A+. Marge finds out and tells Homer that he has to take the course over again.
“The Simpsons” deals with so many topics in one half hour that I will explore only the main issues. The first issue dealt with was the abuse of power and corruption in the government. Mr. Burns is a perfect example of abusing power in almost every episode in which he appears. After Homer destroys the NRC’s simulation van Mr. Burns offers a bribe to the nuclear inspectors:
NRC agent: “I’m still not sure how he caused the meltdown. There wasn’t any nuclear material in the truck.
Mr. Burns: Oh, very well, it’s time for your bribe. Now, you can either have the washer and dryer where the lovely Smithers is standing, or you can trade it all for what’s in this box.
NRC agent: The box! The box!”
Secondly, we see the environmentally sensitive issues of the dangers of nuclear power. Homer works at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, which is owned by Mr. Burns. The condition of the plant is very run down and insanely dangerous which by today’s standards would be considered unacceptable. Homer would also be seen as a hazard, he does not pay any attention at work; for example he eats, drinks, and sleeps at his workstation. He only has a High School education and basically has had no training for his position. Usually, in “The Simpsons” we see characters at work but not doing anything work related or otherwise behaving in a lazy or irresponsible manner. This does not represent a realistic work environment, as such employees would be fired and such an unsafe work place would be shut down.
The third issue is the media’s view of university as being a place of pranks and partying with no reason to study or go to classes. Homer has never actual gone to college, therefore most his knowledge of university life probably comes from farfetched movies. “Marge, try to understand. There are two kinds of college students: jocks and nerds. As a jock, it is my duty to give nerds a hard time.” Homer believes that there is a social segregation between students and university authority. “You’ve won this round dean, but the war isn’t over.” Of course we know these things are far from being true, but Homers continuing belief in this type of life gets him in trouble.
The success of “The Simpsons” is due to a number of things, but it is mainly due to its parody of reality. Its use of satire and hyperbole gives the viewer an outlook on things in reality that could be catastrophic. This comedic spin allows the viewer to relate to characters and the television show as whole.