Volume 94, Issue 8


Summers: A time of love and learning

The cultural phenomenon that defines our generation

The cultural phenomenon that defines our generation

Every generation of the twentieth century had its valiant struggle in which it dealt a blow to evil and guaranteed the safety and freedom for the next.

Our great grandparents fought the Kaiser. Our grandparents fought the armies of the Nazis and Imperial Japan, then stood ever vigilant against communist transgressions. Our parents rebelled against a Leave it to Beaver world of pretentious happiness and polished numica counter-tops. These struggles define our predecessors as generations.

We on the other hand, relatively fresh into the world, have no enemies and therefore, no reason to take up arms. Still we find an eternal bond among everyone of us in our age range. It comes in the form of a clever show called The Simpsons.

I feel like a geek bringing this to bear itself on newsprint. But it's true. Many of us know every single episode, almost by heart. I can make a very obscure reference in the form of a phrase and instantly everyone in my generation knows, not only which character said it, but in what episode and in what context it was spoken.

It's remarkable.

I don't know how many hours I've spent watching the same episodes over and over again and laughing at the same jokes, then acting them out later with friends and still laughing at the exact same jokes. When you think about it, it's absolutely insane, I could have used those brain cells to cure cancer.

There must be some kind of underlying motive behind this behaviour – I am not the only one. Millions tune in more than once a day. I know for a fact that I can watch The Simpsons at 5 p.m. on CBC, 6 p.m. on CFMT and then again at 10 p.m. on Teletoon. It's been playing three times a day on cable for years, so there must be a very large market who enjoys watching it. The question is, why?

Here's my theory:

We have every material need fulfilled; whatever we need can be zipped over to our house in four to six weeks from Ikea, or the trendy upscale store of your choice. In terms of consumer goods, out society is morbidly obese, but mentally, we are starved and emaciated to a nightmarish extent.

Let's face it, Orwell was right. It's a witch hunt out there. Hordes eagerly await with foaming mouths at the chance for anyone to slip up, anyone to utter anything that doesn't fit the mould of what society deems politically correct.

In other words, thought crime. Once heard, an unflattering or judgemental remark, geared towards or anywhere near, one group in particular can trigger a frenzy of emotion from anyone nearby. Zapping you into an instant pariah, which is why no one dares stick their head in a verbal noose these days, no matter how fun it may be. All it gets you is a conviction without trial.

This is why The Simpsons has an appeal. They don't suck up to anyone and the show is a perfectly colourful escape from the harsh reality of today's society. You can laugh at people on The Simpsons, when Remier Wolfcastle let's loose a crate from the back of a military transport plane and says, "Go leettle Unicef pennies! Help the puny children who need you!" You can chuckle without fear of reprisal from some righteous indignate vegan with a soft spot for the plight of third world children.

The Simpsons outlandishly champions everything that is base, hedonistic, hilarious and cruel about the human spirit. It represents an escape from the totalitarianism of political correctness and the delirium of wrath that can be exacted by popular morality. It balances the scale between good and evil thoughts and best of all, nothing about it is real.

If you were standing outside a movie theatre and an extremely obese man was complaining about the service, would you laugh if someone from the crowd of onlookers yelled, "Hey fatty, I got a movie for ya – how 'bout A Fridge too Far." Unless you have balls the size of watermelons, I'd assume not.

I can sleep at night knowing I can face the half-baked cartoon world of The Simpsons, rather than the regimented and verbally composed world in which I actually live.

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