Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Simpsons vs the New World Order

Alternet has called The Simpsons "the most subversive TV show to ever achieve the status of pop culture institution." That's why I grew to love this series. The Simpsons had always slammed fox news but it was their 400th episode that attracted the attention of Alternet.
Because of its nearly 20 years of popularity and more important, profitability, the show has been able to ridicule its network more than any other TV program would ever dare to. Last night was no exception. During its heavily promoted 400th episode, Homer, Lisa and Springfield anchorman Kent Brockman launched into a discussion about Fox News as a hilarious parody of the cable channel, featuring a Rush Limbaugh inspired caricature played on their TV set. Lisa wonders [about] a network infamous for tasteless programming (Temptation Island anyone?)

--The Simpsons Slam Fox News

Following is an excerpt from an enraged "Kent Brockman", the Simpsons' all-too-typical news anchor. Brockman is akin to Network's Howard Beales (Peter Finch) who is "mad as hell and not going to take it anymore". Brockman makes a similar appeal but does so ala Ed Murrow complete with a cigarette and curling smoke.
Friends, the press and the government are in bed together in an embrace so intimate and wrong, they could spoon on a twin mattress and still have room for Ted Koppel. Journalists used to questions the reasons for war and expose abuse of power. Now, like toothless babies, they suckle on the sugary teat of misinformation and poop it into the diaper we call the 6:00 News. Demand more of your government. Demand more of your press.

--The Simpsons v. the media, Think Progress

The Simpsons is the best television since Ed Murrow, since "You Are there", since Playhouse 90, Star Trek, and Kenneth Clark's Civilization. That alone is enough to recommend the series. But that's not all, The Simpsons is on Fox, almost daring what is otherwise the worse network in TV history to do something about it. Matt Groening is modest. He claims that that they are just a tiny part of the vast Fox empire. Perhaps! But it is the thinking part, the part that pays attention, the part that agitates.

Nevertheless, the evil empire did strike back.

D'oh!: Fox slams parody 'Simpsons'

By Andrew Wallenstein

An Internet parody of "The Simpsons" has drawn the ire of 20th Century Fox.

The studio is pressuring online video hub to remove "The O.J. Simpsons," three animated clips that reimagine the Fox series starring the former football star. After receiving notices from Fox lawyers, Broadcaster Inc. is reviewing their demand but noted Friday that fair-use doctrine protects parodies.

"We respect the rights of content owners," Broadcaster CEO Martin Wade III said. "We are examining all the issues raised by the Fox request. Our goal is to be a respecter of content rights and at the same time find legal ways to bring our community members the content they enjoy."

Fox, which declined comment, has been aggressive about protecting perceived copyright infringements. In January, Fox had Google subpoenaed over uploaded episodes of "24" and "Simpsons" (HR 1/25). Google complied, disclosing the names of individuals who did the uploading.

The three "O.J. Simpsons" clips are titled "Black and White Christmas," "Warzone" and "If I Did It," which directly references Fox and its decision to withdraw publication of O.J. Simpson's proposed book about the murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ron Goldman. ...
Fox has also prohibited The Simpsons from satirizing Fox's annoying and gaudy data crawl.

I caught on to the Simpson's fairly early in their evolution. I use the word evolution deliberately to piss off the state of Kansas. It was an episode about how Homer became a "Stonecutter" that really won me over. A brilliant satire of Freemasonry, the Stonecutter episode is classic, but more, importantly, a clue.

Homer becomes a "Stonecutter", a secret society of mysterious rituals and great productions numbers.

Canyanero excoriates America's less than brilliant obsession with a lumbering leviathan called the SUV.

A witty look at a prudish society nevertheless obsessed with sex.

Most recently, The Simpsons took on the Iraq war with their favorite aliens --Kang and Kodos.

The allusions are always rich. This recalls Alred Hitchcocks's Rear Window with James Stewart and Grace Kelly.

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Anonymous said...

It's hard to know where to start with the fantastic Simpsons. I've always been attracted to the lyrics.

When Springfield put on "A Street Car Named Desire" we get the rollicking lyrics "You can always depend on the kindness of strangers ... a stranger's just a friend you haven't met."

Then there was the Cape Feare episode where Bart forestalls Sideshow Bob from killing him by getting him to sing the entire score from H.M.S. Pinafore. Hilarious!

And Burns trys to kill some puppy dogs for his wardrobe:

"See my vest, see my vest,
Made from real gorilla chest,
Feel this sweater, there's no better,
Than authentic Irish setter.

See this hat, 'twas my cat,
My evening wear - vampire bat,
These white slippers are albino
African endangered rhino......"

Too hard to decide. They're all brilliant. And wonderful.

SadButTrue said...

Lenny Bruce showed us that sometimes the only way to expose America to uncomfortable truths is through humor. Others have followed and admirably made us laugh at the foibles of a nation and a world that just doesn't make any sense under close examination - George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Chris Rock and Jon Stewart come to mind.

Maybe you'll enjoy this bit from Canada's Martin Short: RFK jr. interviews BigOilCo. representative Nathan Thurm

Unknown said...

Damien, Sadbuttrue ...

Great links! I missed the "A Street Car Named Desire" episode somehow...and the entire plot with Sideshow Bob is brilliant. Likewise, Burns and the Puppies. Burns is an inspired character in whom almost every evil is embodied.

Thanks for the Lenny Bruce mention. Terrific. Hope you caught my Carlin posts recently, too.

Anonymous said...

Fuzz sez...

Yeah Dudes, I dig The Simpsons too. A dysfunctional family; essentially decent folk who squabble with, and tease each other but always stick tight, unconditionally, when heat comes from without. Their odysseys are many and the man of the house ain't called Homer fer nuthin'.

The brilliance of the satire and the fact that play on Fox and are a top little earner for Citizen Rupert is one of our age's sweetest media ironies.

Unknown said...

Fuzz sez...

The brilliance of the satire and the fact that play on Fox and are a top little earner for Citizen Rupert is one of our age's sweetest media ironies.

Fox programming has had some successes worthy of note. X-files, as I recall, was a product of early nineties Fox.

The Alien Autopsy portended the Fox that we have grown to loathe. The News arm was akin to a slow boil; it was not as obviously fascist among the rest of the MSM more practiced in hiding their various corporate biases.

Psychomikeo said...

"She blinds everyone with her super high beams, she's a squirrel-crushing, deer-bashing driving machine - Canyanero!"

hizzoner said...

Thanks for the reviews Cowboy. I completely agree that "The Simpsons" is probably the most subversive TV show was All in the Family when it first aired.

The problem with All in the Family and, I fear it is the same with The Simpsons is that the characters become "cute and cuddley" and far too comfortable.

For instance, with All in the Family, Archie Bunker became so adored by the American public that his bigoted, prejudiced ways became acceptable. The Simpsons characters are becoming the same way....especially Homer...

We need a good "kick in the pants" every now and then to remember that parody is supposed to reveal the truth, not be simple entertainment.


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