Posted by Marquet Baptiste
I’m going to present you a famous American show called the Simpsons. It is a cartoon series created by Matt Groening and diffused on TV from the 17th December 1989. It is known for its very satirical side of the traditional American family. In the show, every character have a yellow skin except blacks who keep their original skin color.
In a first part, I’m going to describe the show for you, and the second part will show you why the Simpsons is an American Icon and is an American typical cartoon.
1- First of all, the show is principally centered on the Simpsons family.
The father, Homer, is a fat bald-headed father, very stupid and lazy. He’s the principal character and the funniest. He drinks beer and eats all the time. He’s known to provoke problems all the time, for example George H. W. Bush comes to live next to the Simpsons’ house but Homer starts to bother him and it finishes with a fight between them.
The mother, Marge, is jobless, loves her children, is very appealing and is the contrary of her husband. She is the most reasonable character in the family.
Bart, the son, is typically the rowdy boy : he hates school, is very turbulent and makes jokes on anybody. Sometimes he seems to be smart because he can make his worst enemy’s plans fail whereas he is a famous serial killer, his name is Tahiti Bob. But on the other hand he can be as stupid as his father, in an episode he is compared with an hamster on several intelligence tests and he loses.
Lisa, the first daughter, is very intelligent, friendly, smart and disciplined. She is the perfect antithesis of her brother.
Finally, Maggie is the second daughter. She’s a baby who very rarely speaks. She always falls on the ground when she walks and always has a nipple. She is intelligent, for example she can write or play piano.
Other characters often appear in the cartoon. Ned Flanders, the catholic and perfect neighbor, Moe, The barman, Barney, the alcoholic man, Wiggum, the stupid policeman, Krusty the Clown, etc.
As I said, the Simpsons is a satirical show. Homer works in a nuclear central which is not very respectful for the environment. We can see three-eyes fishes on the river next to the central. Then, Bart and Lisa go to school. It is an easy way to criticize the educational system in United States. For example, Bart’s teacher does not care about their student’s future. Cartoons themselves are also caricatural. The famous clown Krusty, is supposed to make the children laugh so he invites his friends on the show but they get smashed or hit by something that make the children laugh. During his pause, Krusty appears to be heartless, smoke and eats a lot.
More major problems are also mocked : politics, such as George H. W. Bush. Racism, Homosexuality, sects. For example, an episode is totally based on a sect. The Simpsons family has been taken in it and the scenarists turn the story as a ridiculous situation. For us spectators, it is hilarious to see how those dangerous groups are mocked. At the end of the episode, when everybody starts to wonder if the sect is true, the guru goes away in a spacecraft but it disintegrates and we can see it is a normal man who was taking money bags with him.
Two episodes have been controverted. Each one of them laughed at two countries : Australia and Brazil. The concerned countries have even threatened to go in justice because these episodes went too far. The one on Brazil shows the country as a very poor country, with wild rats and monkeys all around the place and sad inhabitants. There are a lot of tramps in the streets whereas the government is rich and corrupted.
Then, Bart is considered as a bad model for the children. His hatred for school, his bad grades and proudness of it, his jokes and vulgarity… All of this has been criticized by the population. As The Simpsons is a cartoon for young people, they can be influenced by Bart’s personality.
But despite of it, the Simpsons won a lot of prices, almost fifty, and has been commended in several magazines as the greatest cartoon on earth.
Now, I’m going to show you in what The Simpsons are an American icon. The family represents the traditional American middle-class family : they have the same lifestyle and live in Springfield, a typical American city. It has the same geographical structure than some middle class cities in United States. Then, its name Springfield has been inspired from several real cities. Matt Groening imagined Springfield and he wanted it to look like to his city of birth, in Oregon.
At the end of many episodes, a character says : God bless America. The love for their country is very important. That is why we can often see the American flag, capitalism is acclaimed and communism is very criticized. The comparison with other countries shows that in United States, life is peaceful and not dangerous. Even other rich countries are described as measly compared to United States, such as France which is mocked for its abandonment in the World War II.
Catholic religion is very represented, the city has its own church and all the principal characters go every sunday there. Although it is caricatural, for example the reverend is boring when he speaks, religion is important and it is a duty for the characters.
Still in a caricatural way, the right to have guns is promoted in the Simpson. We often can see guns saving life. For example, an episode is entirely dedicated to Marge carrying a gun and arresting outlaws.
The physical criterion is funny. Most of the characters are fat, not sportive and eat a lot. Restaurants serve a huge quantity of fatty food, also beer. Krusty burgers replace McDonald’s and we even can watch in an episode Ronald McDonald trying to bring competition to Krusty Burgers. The show has its own brand of beer called Duff.
As I’m talking about this, The brand Duff has been used for real beer in the world. The expression “Doh” when Homer misses something has been entered in American dictionary. This shows how the cartoon became so popular.
Then, the US government sets real politics and ancient figures. Barack Obama, George H. W. Bush, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington or Richard Nixon have a role in many episodes. The ancient figures especially Abraham Lincoln appear as angels or help from heaven for the characters. They are very respected by the scenarists. But for the more recent politics they always are ridiculed, especially George H. W. Bush. In an episode, his rivalry with Homer is hilarious. Bush is even more stupid than Homer. To react to this parody, George H. W. Bush, president of the United States in this period in 1992, said : America needs to be a lot more like The Waltons and a lot less like The Simpsons.
To continue with the caricatures, McBain is the over muscled, very strong but not smart action movies actor. He represents Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. He’s described as only thinking with his strength whereas he is fearful in reality. A lot of real personalities have been imported in the Simpson. We can see Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, 50 Cent, Alec Baldwin, Mel Gibson or Kim Basinger.
We can add that the Italo-American mafia has a great role in many episodes. Their accent is caricatural and they always want to kill someone or to do smuggling. The other immigrates are also funny. They have a big accent, such as Carl, an Homer’s colleague, or Apu, the indian seller.
To conclude, the Simpson is a very funny show that takes the typical American themes and problems. Its satirical way laughs at many aspects of the United States but also to the other countries. The series is so famous that things from the show have been created in real life. In my opinion, I watch the Simpsons and I love it since I’m a little boy and I understand more jokes now, that means it is also for older people.
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