Saturday, July 7, 2012

Feminist Simpsons

I  was recently watching some of the old (very old) episodes of The Simpsons. There is a wide discrepancy between the way the characters are first portrayed and the cultural icons they eventually became.

For one thing, Homer was not initially the dumb slob dragging his entire family down. In the earliest episodes, he's actually the only one fighting for a little bit of dignity while the rest complacently wallow in their white trash status. Lisa was little more than Bart's sidekick and her quirk was artistic talent (music) not overall intelligence; she was more likely to be worried about ice-cream than global warming. Marge was not the Blanche DuBois of Springfield but a simpleminded housewife, slightly prone to alcoholism, occasionally draconian in her mothering, every bit of the same base mindset as the rest of her family.

It's not specifically wrong that out of the two children the girl became the good one while the boy became the reckless loser. It's not even entirely wrong that of the two adults, the female became the martyr suffering through a hopeless marriage to an idiotic waste of space while Homer's only redeeming quality became his willingness to play the villain, always apologetic for not following Marge's wishes.

It is wrong that we expect and accept this without question. If the show's writers had decided to go the other way, if Homer had been turned into a saint putting up with a dullwitted, wasteful harpy of a wife, if Bart had been a good boy and Lisa a greedy, vicious little skank, they would've been fired on the spot because Fox's doors would've been kicked in by half a dozen angry mobs after the first show.

Because we all know that men are to blame - for everything.
We expect to see ourselves portrayed as violent, stupid cavemen and women as pristine, benevolent earth goddesses and if any of us ever ventures a more realistic view of gender relations, the significant withholder in our lives badgers us until we cease our thought crimes against the sisterhood.

Thus, Bart could never have been a straight-A student, and Lisa could never have been a chainsmoking gold-digger.

No comments:

Post a Comment