Simpsons Did It!

The Simpsons has been on air our entire lives. “The Simpsons did it” is a phrase that illustrates the incredible length of its syndication and the all encompassing range of issues and situations covered. At this point, it would be more difficult to think of something the Simpsons hasn’t touched on. And despite 23 seasons, they haven’t lost their touch at social commentary. In the first episode of the newest season (23), Homer describes reoccurring flashforwards to a nightmarish future in which he envisions the beginning of Terminator 2: Judgement Day, where the robot treads on human skulls. At first view, this seems to only be a reference to the movie, but Homer complains about the robots stealing his job…while it vaporizes the friends standing around him. This quick scene touches on globalization, unemployment, and the phasing out of the working class due to technology. Homer’s ironic concern is about the violation of the first law of robotics, but that the Robot’s have taken his job. Parts of Homer’s nightmarish flashforward could be in the near future due to technological advances and profit seeking.

It’s hard to find an episode of the Simpsons without a reference to ethics, power, politics, ect. With govt. and police represented by Mayor Quimby and Chief Wiggum respectively, it is easy to tell the writers don’t hold those institutions in high regard. In The Simpsons Movie, Springfield is found to be so polluted that the President decides to cover the entire town with a giant glass dome, trapping the residents and pollution inside. Obviously a direct example of  utilitarianism, the government sought the greatest utility for the largest amount of people, despite dooming Springfield. Mr Burns shows how a company not concerned with stakeholders and profit driven may operate. He blocks out the Sun so that he can capture it and sell the energy back to the town. Mr.s Burns figured monetizing sunlight was an obvious profitable enterprise that would be as easy as stealing candy from a baby, which he has also done. While I do not doubt Mr. Burns’ evil actions represent the perceived evil of the upper ruling class, Homer represents the working man in a similar light. Lisa argues that striking is justified in the workplace, Homer argues that if you don’t like your job you should just do it really halfassed. I am only scratching the surface of issues addressed in The Simpsons, the only way to get their message and have lots of laughs along the way, is to watch it yourself.


2 responses to “Simpsons Did It!

  1. The creators of the Simpsons were truly pioneers of social commentary in popular culture. One of the characteristics that the show shares with South Park is that it is not afraid to be controversial and even taboo at times. The Simpsons episodes that I enjoy the most are the episodes that make jokes about contemporary politicians.

  2. I definitely agree. I have never thought about the Simpsons in such a way, usually I just enjoy watching the show, but now that you mention it, I see what you are talking about. I think though the Simpsons does have some sort of social commentary, I think it does so in a much “classier” way than how south park or other shows now do it. But, the Simpsons were truly the pioneers, I believe.

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