Postmodernism And The Simpsons Essay

8511 words - 34 pages

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Postmodernism and The Simpsons
Intertextuality, Hyperreality and Critique of Metanarratives
Ritgerð til B.A.-prófs
Björn Erlingur Flóki Björnsson
Kt. 110982-5779
Maí 2006

Abstract
This essay offers a postmodernist reading of the popular television program The
Simpsons, with special regard to the postmodern theories of intertexuality, hyperreality,
and metanarratives. Before delving into The Simpsons, some major theoretical aspects of
postmodernism in aesthetic production are outlined. Three of the most prominent
theorists of postmodernism - Lyotard, Baudrillard and Jameson - are introduced, as well
as their theories which will be brought into consideration in the following chapters. The
objective of the essay is to apply these theories to The Simpsons and thereby reveal some
of the foremost characteristics of the postmodern which are readily exhibited in the show.
The first section, on Lyotard's theory of metanarratives, explores the manifestations
of anti-authoritative tendencies in The Simpsons and the methods used to express them.
The following section covers the subject of intertextuality in The Simpsons through
parody, pastiche and self-reflexivity. This section concludes by identifying parallels
between The Simpsons and Jameson's theory on the loss of historical reality in the
postmodern era. In the final section we examine how Baudrillard's theory of hyperreality
can be applied to The Simpsons. Particular attention is given to the role of the mass media
in the construction of postmodern hyperreality, in order to illustrate the media's influence
on Springfield's most famous citizen, Homer Simpson.

Table of Contents
Introduction .......................................................................................................................... 4 Postmodernism: Profile of a Cultural Movement ................................................................ 4 Key Terms and Theories of Postmodernism ....................................................................... 6 Critique of Metanarratives in The Simpsons ........................................................................ 10 Intertextuality and Loss of Historical Reality in The Simpsons ........................................... 19 Mass Media and Springfieldian Hyperreality ...................................................................... 26 Conclusion ........................................................................................................................... 33 Works Cited ......................................................................................................................... 35

Introduction
Postmodernism: Profile of a Cultural Movement
Postmodernism is a term used to encompass a wide range of attitudes in the fields of
aesthetic production and cultural criticism emerging in the 1980s. It is a unique critical...

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