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The Simpsons Revolution
Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie are some of the world s most favorite cartoon characters, and make up one of television s most famous shows, The Simpsons. These 5 intriguing characters, along with a large array of other characters, come straight from the imagination of writer, creator, and cartoonist Matt Greoning. This 20th Century Fox presentation of family life gives a facetious look at American families in the very late 20th Century. The 5 leading character that make up the Simpson family, live in the rural area of Springfield and are something of a dysfunctional family. The members of the family have their own quirks and are constantly feuding amongst themselves. The hilarious show portrays the ups and downs of the Simpsons which real families are said to relate with, to a certain degree. The highly provocative sitcom has revolutionized cartoons and has brought humor and mixed feelings to a new audience than previously brought before. Though the Simpsons are far from taken seriously in most households, many others feel the Simpsons are conveying a message that shouldn t be sent. According to the New York Times, groups concerning family values, V-Chip* technology, and Television violence have all taken up protests against The Simpsons over the years, and have tried to encourage FOX supporters to turn from the show s deliberate lack of morals and help rid TV from its influence. Protesters claim that these TVcharacters show lack of empathy and family values, and are only corrupting the already-too-fragile view on family life in America. They add that the show sends no worth while message and only confuses people on family issues and how to deal with them.
A few years before 1990, The Simpsons were a small- time cartoon featured in FOX s The Tracy Ullman Show. It was only meant to fill in space while the live British Comedy, staring Tracy, was changing scenes and refreshing costumes. The Simpson s Shorts were made up of just the 5 cartoon characters who were constantly doing and saying unheard of things. They were seen disobeying the law, saying uncensored words, and acting in ways only a cartoon could illustrate. It soon became a hilarious hit, and FOX requested a full half-hour episode. The Simpsons Christmas Special aired just before the new 1988 year and most of America loved it so much, FOX decided to produce a full season. Not until The Simpsons returned to TV in 1990, was when the show started receiving its mixed publicity. Still, millions of viewers were tuning in every week to catch The Simpsons. The Simpsons TV show, though somewhat controversial, is not a show in which morals and lessons can be learned, but rather is a simple comedic presentation that’s lessons, if any, are to be taken with laughter and as lightly as possible.
When The Simpsons first launched their first season of episodes, the show was met with mixed reviews. It enjoyed wonderful success and high ratings, but also worried many parents. Though suited for more mature audiences, the cartoonist presentation attracted a younger audience at first. One of the characters in the family, Bart, was a trouble causing, cheating, lying, sarcastic little 4th grader who deemed himself most notably as an underachiever and proud of it. His content for education and authority sparked the first of many negative reviews against The Simpsons. The New York Times Jeffery Willard printed a review in 1990 saying, His [Bart s] lack of discipline is spreading much like a contagious virus, infecting children from school districts around America. Kids flaunt their T-shirts of Bart, and chant his gospel words, I m an underachiever and proud of it. The article continues to express its opinion by predicting an extreme outcome to the new TV show, where millions of American children lower the national average in school curriculum over the years to come. The article also hints that Americans should rise up to having the show canceled, not merely for some kids to do better in school, but for the next generation of leaders that are undoubtedly being affected by the show s negligent attitude. (Willard 19)
According to Ben Stienman of Rolling Stone Magazine, people shouldn t be making sense of the new show. They should be entertained and amused with the characters and discuss how the Simpson s personalities are so much like the real thing, only not. Families shouldn t be feuding over watching the show, but should sit down as a family and embrace the new age comedy, laughing them-selves silly together. People should be encouraged to watch and laugh and have fun with The Simpsons, where the only thing to worry about is a little Monkey-see-Monkey-do attitude that would surely go away with time and effective parenting. One episode was noted where Homer, the father, buys a piece of junk RV Camper and the whole family goes camping. When the family gets lost in the woods, they decide to split up and take on different responsibilities. When Homer and his son, Bart, go off looking for food, Homer stumbles and falls into a pile of mud. A near by nature photographer takes a shot of Homer emerging from the mud, and makes Homer look a lot like a fur covered Big Foot. At the end of the episode, and everything back to normal, there was no lesson to be learned, only pure hilarity and a happy ending. (Stienman 44)
After many more seasons, The Simpsons became more popular and a whole lot funnier. Episodes included a prohibition act against alcohol when Bart mysteriously gets drunk in a St. Patrick s Day celebration, or when Lisa, the eight-year old intellect, protests a sexist Barbie Doll that relinquishes women s rights. Others show Homer trying to jump over a canyon on Bart s skateboard and falling to the graphic bone breaking blood-spilling bottom, or when a side-show prison genius tries to break out and murder Bart. Such episodes remained highly controversial with protesters representing such groups concerning family values, V-Chip technology, and Television violence. The show was starting to get too political and out of hand, according to Lance Pearson of the New England Post. Lance described how V-Chip technology was progressing too slowly to help sensor terrible shows like the Simpsons. According to Pearson, The standards on ratings are changing because tolerance levels are becoming more and more diluted. Soon, even the V-Chip won t be able to protect against shows like The Simpsons. The V-chip was an invention created in the early 90s to help filter certain TV shows from even appearing on the TV set. It was said that in the 21st Century, every TV being built would come fully equipped with its own V-Chip. The tiny chip that fits inside a TV set has not quite hit the mass production list it envisioned, but any TV 20 inches or larger is being made with them now. An individual V-Chip can be programmed to block out all TV shows with specific ratings tailored to the owner s discretion. Would the V-Chip hurt the Simpsons ratings once the invention is fully deployed?
Absolutely not, raves FOX producer Terry Brooks. The Simpsons are the TV Family of the 90s. Brooks wasn t the only one saying that.
TV Guide magazine had also dubbed the Simpsons as the TV Family of the 90, and featured The Simpsons on 2 different collector covers for the magazine s issue of the fall season, 1999. The writer of the article, Carol Ann Cline, commented on the world s acclaim of The Simpsons. Apparently, America hasn t been the only country enjoying the antics of Homer and his family. Countries like England, France, and Brazil had also been glued to their TV sets for years, eagerly anticipating fresh episodes and new laughs. Amongst the other countries there wasn t very much protesting happening. Cline assessed the situation in other countries to be different for many reasons. One may be because the show only revolved around Americans and their type of life. That reason could be easily ruled out, for in several episodes the family gives false or over exaggerated claims about other countries such as Australia, England, France, Spain, Cuba, and Japan. Cline s opinion was that the other countries simply appreciated the humor, cleverness, and style of the Simpsons, and generally took no offence to its callous representations. (Cline 6)
Now ending their 11th season and preparing for their 12th, The Simpsons have no visions of their demise to be in the near future. With the ratings holding in the new millennium, and with the age of the show its self, protesters have fallen from the Simpsons and have moved on to other shows to fry. Shows like The Family Guy and Ally McBeal are still fresh enough to Americans to still be interesting and protest-able. The Simpsons have become common precedence in TV land, and no one really bothers trying anymore. The protesters lost the war, and laughter and good spirits prevailed. The lessons and morals have become even worse in The Simpsons with the show dabbling in religion and actual deaths, but the lessons are finally not taken to heart. Anyone who loves the Simpsons and watches it often will confess that the reason they keep coming back for more, is simply because the show makes them laugh and feel good. I know that s why I continue to watch.
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