Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Simpsons: Comedy or Cultural Criticism?

The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom, satirically depicting the life of a working-class family, named the Simpsons. In episode 12 of season 5 of The Simpsons, Bart learns the truth about fame in America and what comes with it. In the beginning of the episode, Bart is on a fieldtrip with his class at a box factory, which he and his classmates find very boring. In search of some entertainment, Bart stumbles upon a recording studio where Krusty the Clown shoots his sitcom. Coincidentally, Bart scores a job as Krusty the Clown’s assistant, just the excitement he had been looking for, but almost quits soon after because he grows tired of the work. However, during one of Krusty’s shows, he needs to use Bart as an extra. In Krusty’s sketch, Bart becomes an accidental star when he says his famous line “I didn’t do it”, after clumsily tearing down the entire set. He becomes famous for his catchphrase, acquiring the same fame he admired throughout the whole episode but soon grows tired of it.

In this episode of The Simpsons, Bart is used to satirically depict American culture. Generally, this episode suggests that American people are never happy living in the moment, but are always looking for something better. When they accomplish what it was they were looking for, they quickly forget its importance, taking it for granted, and move onto the next most important objective. This pattern repeats itself over and over again until they lose everything, neglecting to realize what they had until it was gone. This idea is supported throughout the episode. First, when Bart is at the box factory with his class, he is completely detached from the moment and he is only worried about escaping the factory and finding something better to do. He finds what he was looking for in the recording studio and becomes Krusty’s manager, however, ironically, he does not appreciate the opportunity. He is almost immediately turned off by his new job and is seriously considering quitting until he achieves stardom. Initially, he is excited by his newfound fame however, ironically, very soon grows sick of it, like he does of everything else in the episode. When his career ends abruptly, he cannot help but regret that he did not make the most of it while it lasted. He reflects on his career with remorse and a heavy heart because he did not realize what he had until it was gone.

This episode does not simply make fun of Bart’s ignorance, but also makes the audience acknowledge that their actions are often similar to Bart’s. Each time Bart neglects to acknowledge what he has, it makes the audience feel a little bit uncomfortable and think “Isn’t that what you just wanted, Bart?”. By the end, Bart is regretful and sad that he did not appreciate what he had until it was gone. This episode suggests that if we as a society were more concerned with living in the moment, then we could be overall happier by appreciating what we have for what it is worth.

1 comment:

  1. I like how you used this Simpson's episode as an example of satire. it is not the typical satire dealing with race and gender which makes it better and different. Simpson's does a great job of using satire as a way to show the American Life and this episode is a great example.