The Simpsons and Good Values

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As of 2003, The Simpsons is the longest running prime time animated series with fourteen seasons and counting. Not only does The Simpsons have almost fifteen million fans in America, but the show is watched by almost sixty million people across the globe. The show has created a billion dollar industry through sales of toys, books, clothing, and videos. Nielsen Media Research (NMR) has consistently rated every season of The Simpsons within the top thirty among prime time television programs of all genres. NMR also noted that males between the ages of 18-49 are the show's primary target audience. The New York Times millennium edition predicted that the show would still be highly rated in 2025. Although a large portion of the general public have been avid spectators, it has taken several years of programming for many political, religious, and academic authorities to approve or even take notice of the series. Today many of the powers that be believe that there is a moral and even religious lesson to be learned within each episode.

During the show's first year, in 1990, it was ridiculed and condemned all over the country. In April 1990, Bart Simpson T-shirts were banned in Cambridge Elementary School in Orange County, California. Two months later Mayor Sharpe James of Newark, New Jersey demanded that retail stores and street vendors stop selling these crude shirts. James was quoted by the Associate Press stating, "just at a time when [the nation's leaders] are trying to get our young people to develop their abilities to the fullest, we get a t-shirt with a popular cartoon character saying he is proud to be an underachiever" (James). JC-Penny department stores nationwide stopped selling the shirts. Leaders of the country began to join this bandwagon during a time where they considered the morality and values of Western Civilization were beginning to deteriorate because of violent video games and sinister rock music from groups such as Marilyn Manson. President George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara were disgusted by the series in 1992. Because of this original hatred by many of the rightwing officials and public voices many parents prohibited their children from watching as well as not taking an interest themselves.

The upheaval was also prominent in American churches. The minister of Willow Creek Community Church of Illinois created a sermon titled "What Jesus Would Say to Bart Simpson," expressing his distaste for the show.
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