Andy Borgmann
ENG110 - Freshman Writing Seminar

December 6, 2001
The Satrical Value of The Simpsons
This December makes it twelve years since the television broadcast waves have not had The Simpsons airing on it. Over the twelve years, the show has evolved from a rather crude cartoon, to a wonderfully written public satire of American culture. Although Creator and Executive Producer Matt Groening has seen much growth over this time period, it has not been with out its criticism. It is this writer's opinion that these people of criticism are either a) naive of political, social, and historical issues and are unable to catch most of the shows true humor and message or b) they are too caught up that the show actually uses crude content, modeling that of society, and they cannot look past it. Just because a TV show is drawn in cartoon form does not mean its focus is on children. The argument is presented that The Simmpsons is in fact not a crude cartoon, but a satire presented in a way that requires knowledge while watching.
So often in today's entertainment industry, television shows are made to "check out" of reality. There are very few television shows that actually force the viewers to stay up-to-date on current political and social issues. Like no other show on television, The Simpsons force viewers to be educated and up to date on issues in order to get most of the humor. This writer has watched The Simpsons for over eight years now, and can say with out a doubt that as education and knowledge of issues has increased, so as has the humor in the show. Shows that encourage this should not be labeled and criticized for their seemingly crude content, but rather praised for shedding light into social concerns in a different manner than they typically monotonous and bias news.
Over their 12 years on the air, The Simpsons have received many critical adjectives describing their show. However, these words of criticism probably have a lot of truth in them. When at first glace, The Simpsons do seem to be a crude and offensive representation of American society; not singling out any one group of people, but rather attacking all races, religions, and professions. But this coarse writing is done in a way that says, "well, if you think this is crude take a look at your own family. You don't like how Bart talks back to his parents and they are too stupid to realize half the time; start observing closely how your son talks to you when he is angry. You do not like how they poke fun at public education; seriously take note of how your school treats and "educate" your kids. You do not like how they model church "inaccurately"; have you looked at your church body recently? The fact remains that despite George Bush's quote after losing the 1992 presidential election, "we need a nation closer to the Waltons than The Simpsons," this nation is more accurately modeled in the cartoon than any of the television shows found on the rerun channels. However, just because it is more accurate does not mean to imply the writers support it. If anything, it is showing a nation how stupid it is raising their families, running their professions, and treating one another. This is done in a manner that attempts to provoke correction in society. Just as Charles Dickens was a great satirical writer of the Victorian period, The Simpsons have become that to the "technology period."
In response to what appears as an attack on the Christian church, it has been made obvious that most evangelical, true-followers of Christ are frustrated with the same issues within the church as The Simpsons writers are. What true-follower of Christ is not sick of a nation that shows up to church on Sunday but as soon the church doors close it is back to the same lifestyle? What true-follower of Christ is not fed up with boring preachers that only preach on hell and money, and hardly live a life outside of the church worth modeling? What true-believer is not tired of seeing the all too common problem of a few members of the church (in the case of The Simpsons one: Ned Flanders) doing most of the work with in it. These are issues that are criticized by The Simpsons. Although the show is not used as far as an evangelical tool, it does not hinders the message either. Oftentimes show includes themes that were spoken by Jesus himself but rarely practiced in today's society. Themes such as loving your neighbor as yourself, turning the other cheek, and justice for all people, not just those with status are all found in the Bible and The Simpsons script as well. Christians need to stop criticizing the show and realize that more than any other television entertainment The Simpsons are on their side.
If viewers will allow themselves to watch the Sunday evening episode with the understanding that it is satirically criticizing today's society, they will notice that the show is not as crude as they find reality, and that the show points to solutions on how to become a better society. When viewed at the right maturity, and education level, The Simpsons are an excellent form of entertainment.