The Simpsons Essays

The Simpsons Essays

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The Simpsons


When the FOX network aired "The Simpsons" in 1989, the show brought the yellow-skinned and four-fingered cartoon characters named Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie Simpson into millions of American living rooms. This bent archetype of the American family, as well as the hundreds of zany characters that populate their all-American hometown of Springfield, fast became the targets of enormous criticism. Elementary schools banned T-shirts bearing the images of the Simpson family and their slogans. Former U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett and even President George Bush berated the show as subversive and demeaning (McAllister 1494). However, a more careful investigation of the show reveals far more than nose-thumbing gutter humor--enveloped in sarcasm and comedy, "The Simpsons" offers a thought-provoking critique of American politics, faith, and the American family.

"The Simpsons," taking prime-time television far beyond its normal scope, throws fierce political punches right and left. Caricatures of Presidents Bush and Clinton have shown up in Springfield during various episodes, Bush as a laughable political failure and Clinton as a sexual pervert. While Springfield's mayor is a corrupt, womanizing Kennedy parody, the local Republican Party plots evil schemes from a nearby cave (Cantor). Paul A. Cantor, an English professor at the University of Virginia and sometime analyst of "Simpsons" politics, argues that the universally critical political message of the series tends, like most Hollywood entertainment, to favor the left over the right. John O'Connor, a television critic for The New York Times, goes farther to say that "The Simpsons" is "the most radical show on prime time" (McAllister 1494).

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... country is well worth laughing about.


Works Cited

Berman, Marshall. "Skepticism in Action: Simpsons Religion vs. Science Episode." Skeptical Inquirer March/April 1998: 19.

Cantor, Paul A. "The Simpsons." Political Theory 27.6 (December 1999): 734. MasterFile FullText 1500. Palni SiteSearch. Goshen College Good Library. 19 March 2000.

Doherty, Brian. "Matt Groening." Mother Jones March/April 1999: 34. Palni SiteSearch. Goshen College Good Library. 19 March 2000.

McAllister, Matthew P. "The Simpsons." Encyclopedia of Television. Ed. Horace Newcomb. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997.

"Opening Notes." Ed. Barbara Wickens. Macleans's 29 April 1996: 14.

Sillars, Les. "The Last Christian TV Family in America." Alberta Report/Newsmagazine 21 October 1996: 36. MasterFile FullText 1500. Palni SiteSearch. Goshen College Good Library. 19 March 2000.

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