The Simpsons as Reflection of our Disintegrating Society
In recent years, a certain animated sitcom has caught the public's attention, evoking reactions that are both favorable and unfavorable, but hardly ever apathetic. As a brilliant, socially aware satire, Matt Groening's The Simpsons has effectively stirred different emotions from different factions of the culturally deadened American populace, and for this alone, it should be recognized as "quality programming." The Simpsons is a brutal satire of our society and our family structures yet it offers several redeeming qualities such as feminism, endurance, and most of all humor.
Often, The Simpsons is truly brutal parody, hurling barbs of hostile commentary at our materialistic and gluttonous American life-style. Many in the audience might be offended by this bullying, except that it seems like harmless fun. For example, when father Homer Simpson decides he would rather sleep in on a Sunday than attend church, Groening is obviously pointing out a corruption of traditional values within the family structure. But recognizing that people don't like to be preached to, the show takes a comic approach, having God come to talk to Homer, telling him to start his own religious sect. The hedonism that Homer extols in the name of the Lord is both ludicrous and hilariously funny, and viewers who might be offended are disarmed, so that even the most conservative Republican grandmother is receptive to the comic message.
Because it is a cartoon, some might scoff at The Simpsons and call it a children's show. But this cartoon is clearly meant for a mass audience, including adults: it is shown during prime time rather than on Saturday mornings, and moreover, it appears on the Fox network, that paragon of broadcast debauchery. The cartoon format allows for visual freedom artistically and, because many people believe cartoons to be childish and incapable of making any real commentary on social values, may aid as well in the subtle presentation of the show's message.
The Simpson family has occasionally been described as a "nuclear" family, which obviously has a double meaning: first, the family consists of two parents and three children, and, second, Homer works at a nuclear power plant with very relaxed safety codes. The overused label dysfunctional, when applied to the Simpsons, suddenly takes on new meaning....