The Irony of The Simpsons

After starting in 1989, The Simpson was instantly beloved. Its popularity has seen it go on to become America’s longest-running sitcom along with worldwide acclaim with little end in sight.

Its appeal was made known to me while working at a youth hostel in London in 1991. All put everything on hold to be huddled in front of the TV to take in The Simpson’s. The exploring of the many attractions of London or adjoining areas were secondary. All were captivated by the light-hearted parody of American society and life in general. In its infancy, if I had been given a quid for every time I heard ‘doh’ by people mimicking Homer’s iconic catch cry, I would have resembled Bill Gates!

The interesting aside in looking at the show is its correlation with how society has changed during its 28-year tenure. Everything in real life has become so much more precious and reactionary. Hysteria is rampant as a result. The Social Age brings this into such focus due to everything being immediate and a mere click away.This is defined by the galling Political correctness that represents literal choker chains around the necks of all. Where you need to think before you talk or act. In the knowledge that even the most innocent of gestures can be viewed instantly and misrepresented leading to repercussions.In the media and within tv shows this is magnified to the enth degree

Amidst this, the show seems to enjoy immunity.

Think of these common trends in the show and the lack of any reaction;

Bullying

The relationship between Homer and Ned Flanders defines bullying that clashes with the focus on this issue in society. Similarly, Nelson Munz is portrayed in the light of a ‘cool cat’ despite most of his scenes revolving around acts of bullying. The show seems to laugh them off with a characteristic, ‘HA-HA’

Obesity

The show uses Homer’s gluttony for food for cheap giggles. Devouring donut after donut or being ejected from all you can eat taverns screaming and kicking due to still not being full. Chief Wiggum is a similar bastion of unhealthy eating and body shape.

Problem drinking

The many instances of Homer irresponsible drinking habits are embodied in drinking to excess. Many of these occasions in front of his children, or in work settings. Barney, when he falls off the wagon, is painted in the same vein. Both stoop to shameful extents to feed their habit. As seen in Barney licking the remnants of grog out of a dirtied ashtray or Homer exclaiming 'how he would kill for a beer'.

Even the practices at Moe’s Tavern condescend responsible serving of alcohol. Where the grizzled barman has no objection in letting his bar junkies get toasted followed by allowing them to drive home.

Child abuse/neglect

Think of the many times you see Homer lose it with Bart and resort to strangling him. Ask yourself what reaction would ensue if this was witnessed in real life?

The relationship between Homer and Lisa is your bastion of neglect. Where he shows little attention to his daughter and knows little of her interests. This carries on to similar with Maggie

Female role models #1

Marg as the prominent female in the show is your atypical neglected wife. Who is happy to deal with varied abuse to fulfil her role as a traditional wife, and mother. She gladly sacrifices all her hopes and dreams to be a bastion of old world subservience.

Female role models #2

Lisa is a bright, independent and empowered girl. Who is passionate about a host of social issues. The show constantly casts her as an outcast that defies the status quo for the roles that girls should have in society.

Aged Care

Treat them as resembling a dish rag and then cast them aside. Homer profits from Grandpa Simpson selling his home then duly throws him in a home. The main theme in the nursing home is the mistreatment of the old residents that has little care for them.

The Force

Bumbling and corrupt with Chief Wiggum the poster child. An obesely overweight character that is profoundly incompetent in the crucial role he assumes.

The bringing up of these points paints me in a precious vein to the point of being anal. Particularly when most take the show in the light-hearted manner that is its common theme. The aside is the reactionary nature that goes hand in hand with everything in society. Which brings into focus even the most flippant gestures, words, or acts.

Why does The Simpsons escape the same associated hysteria?


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What Girls Said 7

  • It was designed, in it's origins, to be exactly what Family Guy is known for today: shocking and provocative. But now that we've all come to know and love the show so well, we expect this kind of behavior from The Simpsons, and are no longer shocked by it. It's just like when things on Family Guy are so random that they seem pointless, people often say "Oh, that's just Family Guy", well the same can be said of The Simpsons and the issues they choose to parody on the show.

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  • I think because they aren't trying to blame any group of people. They are saying that these actions are part of all humankind.

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    • I think the fact they placate the religious aspect plays a role as well. They keep in with the pious masses which excuses their flaws

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    • So, your kind of just putting your own lens over this... okay, I understand. Everyone sees it differently, so does Matt Groening.

      But so far, the hypocrisy you pointed out with the simpsons and their church scenes, seems to have been vague to me. Is there anything specific?

      I took away that the simpsons plays it safe. They try not to be too hostile to religion, given their large audience, but they also don't let it off easy.

    • Well the show does not excuse their flaws at all. It satirizes them. They don;t have to be punished to complete the social comentary

  • I have watched the Simpsons on & off for years nor. With that said I have never really been a fan of the show.

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  • I still like the serie no matter what.

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  • I think it's because the younger generation doesn't even watch the Simpsons. I know my cousins don't.

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  • interesting

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  • I can sit down and watch the Simpsons and just laugh. Same with the Family Guy. Sure they have inappropriate gestures and language but that’s what makes the shoe funny. Also, older songs coming into a new wave of audience. I started watching the Simpsons when it first aired and now my son loves it.
    Same for King of the Hill. We howl at that show.

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    • I have seen it from day dot as well. And used to laugh at it. Also take it for what it is. I just find it interesting in this age that no one has got salty from the many issues it seems to contravene that inspire hysteria

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    • youtube it- trul;y brilliant

    • Very cute 😊 I love his little cat

What Guys Said 17

  • It was 1987 when they started airing The Simpsons.

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  • i think because
    1. it's a cartoon (family guy, south park, f is for family, have a similar paradigm)
    2. the negatives (like drinking, bullying, etc) seem to come with a level of self-deprecating humor. homer bullies ned, but ned is successful, had an attractive wife while homer is overweight and directionless3
    3. there is a fine line that live action and animated tv shows can tread. the simpsons when it first came out was often panned by censors and reviewers who listed much of the things you did problems. my parents and many others didn't let their children watch the show til a certain age because of many the issues your brought up
    4. not so much now but when the simpsons first came on it was made very clear by the producers that it was not a show for children but an animated show for adults (much like family guy and south park)... of course that doesn't stop millions of children from watching the show

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    • wise counsel- as always

    • i don't watch the show regularly but it seems like they've toned it down compared to before... perhaps i'm wrong. but it definitely doesn't seem like it crosses the lines it used to or perhaps we as a society have just become more desensitized to it

    • I guess i am being reactive to how reactive everything is.

  • The show became popular in the 90s, when many of these things were actual problems of society. The 90s were the decade of PSA after PSA, "Don't drink and drive.", "Don't smoke.", "Don't spank your kids."

    Things have gotten better, but the Simpsons still retains those old traits, because they are character defining. Nelson is always presented as a bad kid, and sometimes he gets his come uppance. Same with Moe. Same with Marge or Lisa, who achieve success and recognition, but other times are shot down for their own (smaller) character flaws.

    After the first season or two, the simpsons ventured outside of springfield (as the theme of springfield had been used up), for 'vacation episodes' and 'halloween episodes'. When they're back at springfield in the next episode, new angles are explored with existing characters.

    Apu at the kwikeemart has a problem he needs sorting out, eg. Bart goes through one of life's difficulties and the show garner's sympathy for his character, despite his many flaws (like one of the early episodes involving the family dog). In another episode, Bart plays the part of the rotten kid again. No character is free from mockery either, even the family dog gets it.

    This sends the message to me that nobody is perfect, everyone has their goofy moments, but life goes on.

    I think the show is pretty dynamic in terms of its themes, and this has lead to its preservation.

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  • "Nelson Munz is portrayed in the light of a ‘cool cat’ "

    Have you ever watched the show? Nelson is portrayed as an ignorant savage, poor kid with a single mom, emotionally abused and abandoned.

    Cool cat?

    I stopped reading your idiocy at this point. I doubt you've ever watched the show.

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    • This is the same Nelson who in previous episodes has a grandfather who is a high court judge, has been described as darling in a school photo and was Lisa's first crush?

      I agree he is also portrayed in the manner you describe. But he is also seen in endearing manners as well

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    • @Ironlak282 Bart was trying to ingratiate himself with the bullies because he thought they wouldn't pick on him then. It had varying degrees of success, but mostly failed.

    • What about the episode telltale head?

  • Probably because they aren't trying to blame any group of people like many people in life actually do try to do and also because that's been on the Simpsons since day 1 pretty much it's not like it's anything new.

    The things you've stated have always been on the show to some degree.

    Also it's a cartoon made for adults aimed at being what it is by design.

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  • I think the point of the show is that it's satire. The same as South Park, let's say. Therefore most of the instances you're describing, like Homer being really fat, like... that's the point. They're making a statement and trying to do it with subtlety, as much as it's possible.

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    • Of course- but this fact doesn't stop people getting hysterical in this age

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    • I wouldn't go that deep with it; if it's something you noticed that's cool, I just imagine it's supposed to anchor itself on a more subconscious level.

    • Wise counsel, and you a wholly correct

  • I think that because it's a cartoon, no-one really pays any attention to what goes on. It's just harmless entertainment.

    Simples...

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  • Nigga, it's a satire cartoon. Chill 😂😂😂😂

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  • "Why does The Simpsons escape the same associated hysteria?"

    Because it is a known parody.

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    • Admitted this, but this doesn't stop people getting hysterical in this age. Where hysterika rules

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    • @Nobodycares I agree wholly in all regards but it still doesn't prevent potential outrage. And you are correct about not caving in and I never would. My main point is bemusement as to why it hasn't been targetted despite it obviously taking the mick

    • I can't possibly know for certain, because I don't have up to the minute stats. I think it has to do with them being a loud minority, and the push back they're facing or about to face.

  • Nelson Munn was never celebrated for his bullying. It doesn't make light of it, it just acknowledges it as an everyday occurrence.

    Marge doesn't need to be rocket scientist it be a substantial character. She loves her kids. Both her and her husband are naive

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  • Amazing how they never age considering Homer and Marge were 18 years old in 1974. That would put them at 43 today.

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    • Sorry, meant 61 yes old.

    • It is a bit like the running commentary over that ageless baseball player back in the day Julio Franco - who most thought was 40 back in the mid 80's and still 40 ish in the 00's

  • Because it is a cartoon. Look at Family Guy, with its insinuations of an infant engaging in gay sex.

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    • sure- but people do not need an invite to make mountain out of melehills. it is in keeping with this age

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    • Ah, you gotta be more learned in pop culture, my dude

    • @Nobodycares You are fortunate in regard to being a generational segue b/n the old/new. i am in many ways a relic. Which I concede as a flaw

  • People don't pay much attention to things in cartoons as opposed to real life.

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    • fair call, it gets little vigilance as opposed to everything in life being examined and dissected

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    • When their fears aren't placated, nothing changes, and society doesn't get worse. To placate their fears, in many cases, is to encourage much more authoritarianism, which makes for a worse society over all, in my opinion.

    • @Nobodycares Sure, but seems more hysterical now maybe because of the effect of the Social age. As long as no one dishes Galaga, I am content :P

  • fair points

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  • Pretty sure their ratings have been in decline since season 8, haven't they?

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    • i am not privy to the ratings but it still represent a cultural icon

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    • Yeah I haven't watched in a few years but it seemed to have become a celebrity cameo show.

    • It might not even be Matt's call, Fox is notorious for beating a dead horse

  • thats why its a cartoon for fun, not something for kids

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  • Simpsons how long will it go on?

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