Sunday, November 12, 2006

Going Too Far in Springfield

OK, that was just enough.

The Simpsons used to be the gold standard of cutting edge satire, clever and whimiscal while rarely taking a side. Yet this evening's episode was one of the crudest hatchet jobs I have seen on television in some time; with the United States Army as its target.

The military services have been the subject of many a Simpsons episode, but they were usually always done with a bit of whimsy and with due respect (think of Bart's boy-band delivering subliminal messages for the Navy, Sideshow Bob stealing a nuke at the Air Force base, or Homer's various stints in the Navy and Coast Guard).

Nothing like that tonight, no sir. Really base, high-school level humor ("We went to the dumbest town in the dumbest state, and we still can't get anyone stupid enough to join the Army!), constantly stressing the mental deficiancy and the desperation of the army (recruiting at Springfield Elementary thru trickery, for instance) throughout a nonexistant plot. The insults and impotent rage hurled at the Army by the writers is so sophmoric and classless (Skinner tells the recruiters, "Bite me!") that it never would have passed network muster had it been a less venerated show.

And the end? Comparing a war-torn Springfield to Iraq for the second consecutive episode, and ending them both with the same lecture chastising stupid Americans (be it the Army, or the standin "alien invaders" Kodos and Kang) with the old, "Haven't we learned anything from...." speech ? Could it be any less tactful; and any more tasteless? And airing on the day after Veteran's Day, no less?

The sorry thing is that I am sure there were plenty of servicemen watching this episode (its appeal is primarily male), and they must have felt quite uncomfortable being ridiculed as "idiots", "stupid", or "dumb" by characters they have grown to love through the years. The words this group of talentless hack writers put into the mouths of the denizens of Springfield tonight was cringe-worthy; embarassing both as political commentary and as basic comedy writing.

Satire is fine, and even military-bashing and foreign policy criticism is within fair territory, but to employ the crass tones and vile script that The Simpsons writers used as a vehicle to voice their displeaure (at our military? the army in particular? US foreign policy? Who can say?) is inexcusable. Don't use one of TV's greatest shows as a platform to unintelligbly express your hatred of your country's military. If not for their vigilance, you wouldn't even have the freedom to air your juvenile rage.

And like children who have just thrown a tantrum in public, you should feel ashamed of yourselves...

UPDATE: More at Hot Air, with video and this comment:

How pitiful is it that Cracked magazine did a funnier job of lampooning John Kerry than the Simpsons did with the U.S. military?


The Decipher Post said...

Amen. I felt the same way after watching this episode.

Anonymous said...

yup, that about sums it up. Think I'll pass on the movie, unless they have brought the old crew in to write.