-The Simpsons=American Culture ?-
The Simpsons is an animated sitcom created in 1989 by Matt Groening for FOX. The Simpsons can be described as a series which is about a middle-class family of five and their daily life. I want to give a short information about this family. Homer Simpson is the father of the family, works at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant and we can say that he is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Marge Simpson is the mother of the family and she is a housewife who always has to deal with Homer’s stupidity. Bart Simpson is their son who is also known as the prank king of the town. Lisa Simpson is the daughter who is exceptionally smart but not so social. At last but not least there is Maggie the baby who only communicates by sucking on a pacifier.
Of course, when we are watching The Simpsons, we see a critic of current events. In other words, The Simpsons does not only show us the life of a middle-class family, but also gain a new perspective over current events that can be defined as controversial. The Simpsons reflect American culture by shaping a city that can defined as a regular American town. Even in that small town, we can see every type of person.
It is about the multiculturalism of United States of America. We see the market owner Apu Nahasapeemapetilon who is a Middle Eastern. It is also reference to the habit of Middle Easterners who mostly has a market. To give an example, in Shameless which is another good TV show, we see another Middle Eastern family who own a market. In addition, Shameless is a show also about a middle-low class family and their lives. We also see Mexican Bee Guy who is actually an actor and represents Latino Community at the show. Multiculturalism is not the only thing about American culture that is represented at The Simpsons.
Alongside multiculturalism, gender is a topic that people who writes the script love. There are several women on the show and they play their gender roles perfectly. Marge, Wife of the Reverend Lovejoy and Maude Flanders are the first three women characters that come to my mind. These three women go to PTA events, take care of their children and concern about the image of themselves in the eyes of other women. Government is also represented and criticized at The Simpsons. We see the meeting of both Democrats and Republicans.
Matt Groening pictures Republican meeting in some kind of a haunted castle with a thunderstorm always brewing above it and Republicans are represented by greedy, rich and religious people like Mr. Burns, Rich Texan and Ned Flanders. On the other hand, Groening does not show Democrats as much as he does Republicans. He depicts their conventions as a tea party and Democrats as sensitive and soft people. The mayor of the Springfield is Joe Quimby is Democrat, we see him taking bribes from the mob boss Fat Tony. Even his seal presents how corrupt he is. It says “Corruptus in Extremis” which can be translated as “extremely corrupt”.
There is also Chief Wiggum who is the chief of the Springfield Police Force. He takes bribes too like Mayor Quimby. He depicted as incompetent, lazy, stupid and really fat. He is like an anti-cop because he is everything that a policeman should not be. The last thing I want to mention is how the working middle class is represented at The Simpsons. We see after their shift Homer and his colleagues go to Moe’s which is a bar.
Their life is almost stucked between home, work and that bar. We always see them happy there because they only have that bar as a safe place. I believe that this provides an idea how the real life working middle class men are. To sum up, The Simpsons, represents American middle-class perfectly while representing the people small town people in a successful way. Also it is a bless for Americans by providing them a mirror to look themselves.
As having the titles such as longest-running animated series, longest running sitcom and longest running scripted prime time series, The Simpsons went through several changes ideologically. In addition topics have also changed in time too. I think that The Simpsons is becoming a show like Family Guy by using celebrity characters and popular culture references. This situation is not something what Matt Groening desires and desired originally. He created a sitcom based around unlikely events happen to a suburban family not a show that is unrealistic and full of topical humor. When we look at the history of The Simpsons we can see that the changes began in the year of 1993. Homer became more stupid – I still do not know how they managed it though-.
Lisa became more social and more like a fighter. We can give the episode that she joined the beauty pageant contest of Springfield as an example. Bart on the other hand become fearless more than ever and left the childish jokes and try to do bigger ones. As I mentioned before there is also the reality issue going on.
In early episodes, we used to feel like they were familiar to us. After the years and episodes gone by, characters and events started to go move away from reality and the bond between characters and audience started to disappear. In addition, even the characters started to explain their actions, why they do such things. We can see these changes in The Simpsons but when we asked the questions what does these changes mean and what are the implication of these changes, we can reach some answers. The changes in characters can be a cause of growing. For example, I mentioned about Lisa being more social and becoming a real fighter. Although they do not actually grow up, writers and producers may trying to imply that Lisa is growing up and she is in fact trying to find her character.
Another reason of these changes can be the network. The Simpsons is a unique show, but in the bottom end, they’re still belong to FOX, which is a big time studio and they want to make as much money as they can with The Simpsons before it loses its mojo. The pressure coming from the FOX may have forced the writers to change their style. The last but not least there is the fact writers aim to response to people’s thoughts and will has a big effect on these change.
They know although they have huge credit they should continue to come up with new ideas and these new ideas may not always be bright as the old ones especially if you are doing a show for 24 years and 521 episodes. To sum up, The Simpsons is a groundbreaking show that has been aired for 24 years. It is one of the longest running series that has many records and awards (27 Emmy Awards with many others). These awards had been given to them not only because they have not got any serious competitors but also they successfully picture American culture, middle-class Americans and daily life and its problems. There are people who say the best years of the show is gone by and there are also people who say the best years is yet to come but we can be sure of that The Simpsons will end one day but it will remain in our memories as a mirror we can look to see ourselves. [The Simpsons Theme Begins]