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The Cultural Impact of The Simpsons

An overview of The Simpsons, a little history, cultural influences, relevance to animated prime time cartoons, religious, political imact.

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The Cultural Impact of The Simpsons

  1. 1. “His drawings are full of expressions of angst, social alienation, self-loathing, and fear of inevitable doom.” Wikipedia
  2. 2. The original Simpsons were created as short “bumpers” for the Tracey Ullman Show Began on April 19, 1987 A satirical look at American family life
  3. 3. The Simpsons shows the rich as greedy, politicians corrupt, police officials stupid, parents easily manipulated, children devious. Despite the dysfunctional family antics by the end of each show, they support each another and stick together.
  4. 4. " This simultaneous parody/homage is indicative of the desire to both belong to and make fun of a cultural elite, to be both of and above television, an unstable relationship with intellectual culture that is also inherent in cultural studies itself...The Simpsons uses satire not only to undermine the pretensions to cultural significance of various texts from both "high" and "low" culture, it includes itself as part of that mockery.” .John Alberti, Leaving Springfield
  5. 5. “No one escapes satire in the program, which is vital for its ultimately uplifting message: we're an absurd species but together we make for a wonderful world....The satirical cartoon world is essentially a philosophical one because to work it needs to reflect reality accurately by abstracting it, distilling it and then presenting it back to us, illuminating it more brightly than realist fiction can.” Julian Baggini, The Simpsons as Philosophy
  6. 6. Call me Influential! 2002 2002 Bart Simpson named to the Time 100, the publication's list of the century's 100 most influential people--the only fictional character on the list.
  7. 7. “It was the first really self- conscious product of television, not just flirting with the conditions of its own existence but actually poking around in them, risking self- annihilation. Like all excellent cultural product, it found its audience by creating it.” Mark Kingwell, Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto
  8. 8. Since the beginning, The Simpsons has been recognized for its perceptive political satire. The Simpsons have featured pointed jibes at presidents and their policies.
  9. 9. In 2004, at ComicCon Al Jean revealed: "We have a show where, to raise money, Springfield legalizes gay marriage. Homer becomes a minister by going on the internet and filling out a form. A long-time character comes out of the closet, but I'm not saying who.” Bookmakers were soon taking bets on which character it would be. Place your Bets!
  10. 10. There's Something About Marrying: Episode 345, Feb 20, 2005
  11. 11. There's Something About Marrying: Episode 345, Feb 20, 2005 Marge Simpsons sister Patty Bouvier, came out of the closet. Springfield legalizes same sex marriage to increase tourism. Homer conducts dozens of marriage services.
  12. 12. German researcher, Erwin In het Panhuis, analyzed 490 scenes and 70 gay characters in the show and concluded that the Simpsons has helped gay men come out because of the positive portrayals of gay relationships in the series. ( )
  13. 13. While most TV series have avoided religion, The Simpsons has used religious references in 95 % of its episodes. (David Feltmate, “It’s Funny Because It’s True? The Simpsons, Satire, and the Significance of Religious Humor in Popular Culture.”) “ The Simpsons employs comedic devices that represent (and undercut) almost all potential perspectives on religious issues. Some see this approach as fair-minded, some as a ratings-driven cop-out, yet the show has always kept faith with its mission to critique not only the failings of religion but also those of its critics; moreover, while invariably questioning and undercutting them, The Simpsons airs pro-spirituality themes as no other TV sitcom has ever done before.” Iain Ellis
  14. 14. Religious Teaching Tool? The 1995 episode “Bart Sells His Soul” is often used in sermons and Sunday schools as a teaching tool. After selling his soul to Millhouse, Bart’s life becomes so bad he can’t even laugh at “Itchy and Scratchy.” Bart’s prayers are answered when Lisa retrieves the contract.
  15. 15. Ay Caramba!
  16. 16. Because of increased workload of the full-length episodes, production was subcontracted to a South Korean animation studio. Character and background layout is done by the US domestic studio, while tweening, colouring and filming is done in Korea. and filming is done by the overseas studio
  17. 17. In 2010 a 90 second subversive opening of "The Simpsons” ran. Created by UK political street artist Banksy who didn’t like the outsourcing to South Korea, it shows Korean sweatshops, oppressed Asian factory workers grinding out animation cells and merchandise in a factory from hell. A panda bear hauls back-breaking loads and an sickly unicorn's horn is reduced to a tool. The sequences fade to a 20th Century Fox logo. Many asked, “Should The Simpsons be co-opting criticism of their show and making light of it?
  18. 18. Millions of Movie References The Shining Casablanca Jaws Risky Business A Clockwork Orange North by NortWest Silence of the Lambs A Clockwork Orange
  19. 19. Simpsons Celebrities
  20. 20. “The Simpsons created an audience for prime time animation that had not been there for many years…as far as I’m concerned they basically reinvented the wheel” Seth McFarlane
  21. 21. Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand! -Homer Simpson

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An overview of The Simpsons, a little history, cultural influences, relevance to animated prime time cartoons, religious, political imact.


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