Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday Night Simpsons

Saturday night, what is there to do?

I’ve been catching up on my Simpsons for a bit now. I stopped watching the show shortly after the writer’s strike way back when. I was in high school and the Colbert Report had just popped on the air. I took it as a sign. I had to grow up. There was more relevant satire to be had.

The Simpsons today makes a far different impression upon me today than all those years ago. The jokes are better, the humor more poignant, and the subtlety  of Homer’s honorable integrity comes out with zen-like power. I find myself the butt of the majority of the jokes on the Simpsons as a Christian, which I don’t mind. The purpose of satire is to critique, and while I find many of The Simpsons’ assertions baseless, I take them seriously. The show, named one of the most important television programs of the 20th century, was a cultural phenomenon. It influenced popular culture. It taught people that Christians are really like this.

For me, I enjoy the candid window into things outside of my counterculture. It also keeps me more accountable to what I believe. Ned Flanders is a caricature of Christians, as is Reverend Lovejoy and his mean-spirited wife. In my life I’ve known people like these two that hide behind masks of sincerity and sanctimony. This should reflect poorly on us Christians. History shows some good that we did when it was illegal to be Christian, but that is another subject altogether.

The humor of The Simpsons, masterminded by John Swartzwelder, continues to bemuse and mesmerize me. It’s sublime at times. I wonder to myself why I am laughing when I see a sight gag. Am I laughing at myself, society, or the obliviousness of the characters to perceive their own wretchedness? Swartzwelder, according to commentary, envisioned Homer as a dog with simple needs. Dogs are eager to please. Some are loyal, some indomitable. Homer is all these things. Is that why he is so charmingly simple? We have seen him love his two daughters is some episodes with such ferocity that even the childless would envy his touching relationships with them. The episode when Homer leaves his job at the bowling alley to go back and work at the power plant, Mr. Burns breaks Homer’s spirits as revenge for Homer’s earlier departure. A plaque is placed over his work console that says:

Homer is asked at the end of the episode where the pictures of Maggie are in the photo album that they are looking through. The episode closes with this picture:

Great show. What a great show.

That is all.


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