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'The Simpsons' is a humorous show about the average American family, yet it manages to portray social and moral issues through the unusual medium if cartoon. How is this achieved?

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Introduction

'The Simpsons' is a humorous show about the average American family, yet it manages to portray social and moral issues through the unusual medium if cartoon. How is this achieved? 'The Simpsons' is a comedy cartoon, created originally over ten years ago. The cartoon idea for adults lampoons everything Americans hold dear, and is now more popular worldwide than ever before. It focuses mainly on one family, the Simpsons of Springfield. They are dysfunctional in the extreme, a family of unwitting victims who have no idea why life keeps knocking them around. The Simpson family has five members: Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and baby Maggie. Each character has their own bizarrely normal, stereotypical unique personality. Homer works in the local nuclear plant, a safety inspector who sleeps on the job. As the stereotypical American man, he is lazy, overweight and careless, and is usually to be found sprawled on the sofa, drinking Duff beer, eating unhealthy food and watching his soul mate - the television. Despite being the patriarch of the Simpson family, it is unlikely that he has ever done an honest days' work in his entire life. His response to practically any crisis is to mutter unintelligibly and slap himself on the forehead. This is not your standard cartoon hero. Marge is his blue-haired wife and the ever-patient model mother. The stereotypical housewife role played by Marge sees her waiting upon the every need of her family, rarely complaining. This role is also slightly sexist, as Marge is the homely wife and mother who cooks, cleans and keeps the house tidy daily, while the bread winning husband works. Bart, the eldest Simpson child, is cheeky, mischievous and rude. He isn't a bright student, his grades are low, but most of the time he doesn't seem to care. Life for Bart is one long holiday, he takes it as it comes, and it is quite clear that Homers' lazy ways were hereditary for Bart. ...read more.

Middle

Principal Skinner is another stereotype, of an odd school principal who still lives with his mother, and has a secret affair with Mrs Krabappel. Patty and Selma, twins, are Marge's older, ugly sisters. They are the stereotypes of desperate, single women who, in their thirties, prove that they will do anything for a man. In the 'Cartridge Family' episode, Marge finds them trapping a television repairman in their flat, in the hopes of finding love. Other widely used techniques used in the show include irony, satire and sarcasm. Irony is frequently used in dialogue, and many jokes have an ironic twist to them. For example, when Homer asked for the deadliest gun, the shopkeeper replied, "Aisle six, next to the sympathy cards." ('The Cartridge Family' twentieth century fox videos 1999.) This is ironic because it is a juxtaposition that jars. The two things, the deadliest gun and the sympathy cards contrast with each other and shouldn't really be put together, but they are which is ironic. The writers are linking together death and sympathy, because guns kill people and the cards sympathise with deaths. It suggests to the audience a sense of irony because joking about death can be seen as slightly sick. Visual irony is also used, such as when Homer is waiting for his gun. He complains bitterly about having to wait five long, tortuous days for a gun, and wonders how he is possibly going to last five days without shooting anything? During his waiting period, he sits outside on a chair to pass the time. The sun sets and rises five times, and each day a set of tempting targets dance past him. One day it is shooting targets, another day it is rabbits, then ducks, then Patty and Selma and finally Ned Flanders (complete with annoying sayings). This creates visual irony because Homer really wants to shoot something, and lots of targets pass him. ...read more.

Conclusion

Divorce in America is not uncommon, and thousands of children go through it every year. This issue can really connect with some children who are suffering as a result of divorce or separation, and can give them a tiny insight into the way 'grown-ups' work and how to deal with similar situations. Back in December 1989, when the show first debuted on 'The Tracy Ullman Show,' nobody thought an adult cartoon would take the first the nation and then the world by storm. But it went against the odds and proved everybody wrong. The programme has varied quality-wise through the years, yet it still offers up brilliantly subversive takes on American culture and our imperfect human nature. For all it's satire, 'The Simpsons' holds a message of redemption and forgiveness, of the importance of family and community despite all its imperfections. Though the show is 'only' a cartoon, 'The Simpsons' has it's own satirical take on life, and even after eleven years of comic wit and animated genius it remains the worlds' most popular and well-loved animation. It still holds the prime-time slot in America, and it is unlikely that there are many people who do not know who the Simpsons are. In the beginning, the show set out to be different. It didn't just want to be thirty minutes of wise crack jokes, but more of a sitcom. Eleven years later and this has well and truly been achieved. The way that it works on several levels is amazing, something which not many other programmes have accomplished. The refreshingly normal family works in a cartoon, and I think that if it was used with real actors it wouldn't work as well. In my opinion, the cartoon is brilliant. I watch it when it is on, and I can always find something to relate to and find amusing. As Demon magazine stated in 1998, "The Simpsons is not just Americas' longest running prime-time cartoon show; it's a way of life." (Demon magazine 1998). Frances Duffy 10J Frances Duffy 10J - GCSE Media Coursework ...read more.

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