The Simpsons: A Parody of the Working Class Culture
D’oh Pronunciation: Brit. /dəʊ/ , U.S. /doʊ/
Expressing frustration at the realization that things have turned out badly or not as planned, or that one has just said or done something foolish. Oxford English Dictionary
The hit sit-com The Simpsons was first aired in 1989, and it revolved around the adventures of the Simpson family, and all the other characters who live in Springfield, an undetermined American town. The Simpsons, as a family, are satirical versions of the quintessential idealised American working class family. The show satirizes ‘the basic elements of the American dream’; the mayor is corrupt, the police officers are good for nothing, lazy, donut and junk food eaters, the teachers at Springfield Elementary school are faced with a sea of blank faces everyday and therefore are unmotivated in their jobs, and Krusty the Clown, the smoking, drug addict clown/ TV personality who is made miserable by his job in show business but continues on anyway, just to name a few of the characters in the series. Homer Simpson, one of the central characters, is a father of three, and is portrayed as a lazy, stupid thirty six year old. He is a nuclear power plant safety inspector, who fails as a parent and husband but deep down has his family’s happiness at heart and would go through great lengths to make them happy. He has a beer belly, a permanent 5 o’clock shadow which reappears immediately after he shaves, and is bald. The reason he is bald is because every time he learns that his wife Marge is pregnant he tears out clumps of hair. Homer is also a thief, he steals, or ‘borrows’ without ever returning, all sorts of tools and items from his neighbour Ned Flanders, once even ‘stole’ a whole room from him. When not at work, he spends his day either at Moe’s Tavern drinking beer, or in front of the television, where he even left his butt imprint on the couch due to the long stretches of time he spends sitting on it. One might say that Homer represents a large majority of the American male population. Marge, his wife, is the backbone of the family who had to put on the back shelf her dream of becoming a successful painter, and ended up just being a house-wife, perhaps even portrayed as the stereotypical wife who cleans, cooks, takes care of the kids and who always forgives the mishaps of her husband, Homer. Marge loves both her husband and her children unconditionally; in her eyes Homer is the ideal husband. In the episode ‘Lisa’s date with destiny’, Marge tells Lisa that many women might tell you that you’re a fool if you try to change a man. She goes on to say; marge:
When I first met your father, he was loud, crude and piggish. But I worked hard on him, and now, he's a whole new person. lisa:
He's a whole new person, Lisa.
Oh, I know.
Marge Simpson’s character in the cartoon shows that the idealised house-wife that was previously portrayed in other sit-coms was an idealised one, a kind of Stepford wife who apart from being on par to a domestic goddess, put her needs on the back bench. She is more often than not ignored by her family. Perhaps this is Matt Groening’s way of criticising the way married women are seen nowadays. Bart, the eldest of their kids, is a ten year old brat (in fact the name Bart is an anagram of the word ‘brat’). He is rebellious, disrespects authority and he is an underachiever - always gets ‘F’ grades in school. Bart also coined catchphrases such as ‘Eat my shorts!’ and ‘Ay, Carumba!’ Some of his hobbies are prank calling Moe’s Tavern, drawing graffiti and skateboarding recklessly. Many mothers hate the idea of Bart being a role-model to their children since he is an underachiever and proud of it. Because he has the so called ‘Simpson gene’, Bart is doomed to failure. The opening credits show Bart writing a phrase over and over on the class blackboard as a punishment. This is just one of the punishments that...
Cited: Bart the Genius, 7G02, writ. by John Vitti, dir. by David Silverman (Fox Broadcasting, 14 January 1990)
Homer’s Enemy, 4F19, writ
Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy, 1F12, writ. by Bill Oakley & Josh, dir. by Jeff Lynch (Fox Broadcasting, 17 February 1994)
Lisa’s Date with Destiny, 4F01, writ
Lisa’s Sax, 3G02, writ. by Al Jean & Mike Reiss, dir. by Dominic Polcino (Fox Broadcasting, 19 October 1997)
[ 1 ]. Jessamyn Neuhaus, ‘Marge Simpson, Blue-Haired Housewife: Defining Domesticity on The Simpsons’, The Journal of Popular Culture, 43.4 (2010), 761-781 (p. 763)
[ 2 ]
[ 3 ]. Sam Tingleff, ‘The Simpsons as a Critique of Consumer Culture’, The Simpsons Archive, (1998) < http://www.snpp.com/other/papers/st.paper.html > [accessed 9 February 2012]
[ 4 ]
[ 5 ]. Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy, 1F12, writ. by Bill Oakley & Josh, dir. by Jeff Lynch (Fox Broadcasting, 17 February 1994).
[ 8 ]. Mark I. Pinsky, ‘The Gospel According to The Simpsons: Bigger and possibly even better’ (Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007), p. 6.
[ 9 ]. Lisa’s Sax, 3G02, writ. by Al Jean & Mike Reiss, dir. by Dominic Polcino (Fox Broadcasting, 19 October 1997).
[ 10 ]. T.W Adorno, ‘How to look at television’, The Quarterly of film radio and television, 8.3 (1954), 213-235 (p. 221)
[ 11 ]
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