Politics And America 's Favorite Family : Mastering The Art Of Neutral Political Satire

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Politics and America’s Favorite Family: Mastering the Art of neutral political satire In 2006, a survey conducted by McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum concluded that one in five Americans could name more than one of the five fundamental freedoms protected by the first amendment, more than half could name at least two members of the Simpson family (McCormick 2006). While the survey was indicative of generally weak civic understanding of the American people that has already been well documented; this particular study demonstrated the place in popular culture held by The Simpsons (1989-) When the show first aired, United States Republicans accused the show of being inept for conventional television, and the show immediately responded to the right wing’s criticism with the typical satire (Kelsowitz 2006; Pinsky 2001; Turner 2004). This conflict led to a huge debate on the favorite show’s material in relationship to partisanship. Many observers argued the Simpsons favor the American left (Turner 2004, while other observers believed the show demonstrated complete political neutrality (Cantor 1999). The debate lacked any valid empirical evidence until Kenneth Michael White and Mirya Holman issued a study entitled Pop Culture, Politics, and America’s Favorite Family: Partisan Bias in The Simpsons? It is somewhat remarkable that given the amount of academia that currently exists regarding the content of the Simpsons; the first study to be on the political neutrality of the show was conducted in 2011, nearly twenty-two years after the airing of the first episode. It is also peculiar no such research has ever been done based upon what is known regarding the influence of television. Popular Culture, Humor, and Politics To understand the pote... ... middle of paper ... ... way young people view politics (Cao and Brewer 2008; Cao 2010; Hollander 2005). The Simpsons contain partisan references, but that it does not take sides and ridicules both political parties equally. The fact that there has been a vibrant debate on this question in academic and pop culture literature is evidence that the Simpsons takes on both sides of the political spectrum. The nature of humor itself is trans political; humor can be an equal opportunity attacker, in which no point of view is safe from being a punchline to a joke. Given its use of satire and simply at the level of aesthetics, the Simpsons is unlikely to contain partisan messages (Jansen 2003). The satiric animation of the Simpsons does not lend itself to attacking only one point of view. Part of the appeal of the Simpsons is that it makes fun of everything and everyone, even itself (Turner 2004).

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