“Cartoons (Seriously) Can Teach us About Faith” Response Essay
The article “Cartoons (Seriously) Can Teach us About Faith” by Mark L. Pinsky highlights how it is easier for one to be exposed to cultural issues, and religious topics through animated shows. Pinsky uses the show The Simpsons as a prime example to make his point. Pinsky discusses how the staple to The Simspons plot is religion. He pulls examples from the series from what Lisa teaches Bart about the soul, along with how the family goes to church regularly, and television’s most widely accepted televangelist, Ned Flanders. Pinsky also provides a list of several other shows that use the topics discussed as a focus of their plots. He uses South Park to discuss that despite its offensive and satirical nature many religions are proud to be satirized in order for people to notice and understand what they are about. Pinsky closes his article by posing the question on whether or not that these topics being introduced through cartoons are a good thing. He follows up his question by stating that when young people are in church or a place of worship the view the lessons with skepticism, but when they are at home watching television they view the topics with a more open mind.
I have read Pinksys essay several times now, and each time I find myself agreeing more with all of the points he is trying to make. This article had me interested from the first paragraph because I have always been infatuated with the use of religion in cartoons, and this article does exactly that. I do find that it is easier to understand and find social and religious topics interesting through the use of cartoons. “No where on the small screen are these weighty issues dealt with on a more regular basis than in edgy animated comedies” (pinksy701).
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This point, which also introduces the main idea, made me as a reader want to continue on through the article. This also made me think about the various animated shows that I have seen in which social issues and religion were used in the plot.
Many people who do not take interest in social and religious topics pay attention when they are presented in the form of a cartoon. “For some reason, many who shun serious topics when presented by religious and education leaders will listen to debate about theology if they are presented in the context of a cartoon”(pinksy702).
Pinksy makes a great point with this statement. If I didn’t agree already, the more I thought about this the more valid this point became. I am not always interested in hearing about religion and other topics, and often I don’t like hearing about it from religious and educational figures, however, when I am watching television I feel comfortable and though I am exposed to these topics I am being entertained and hardly realize this fact. “…Survey of nearly 300 episodes confirms at least one academic that religion is a staple of the shows plots…the Simpsons say grace, attend church, read the bible, and pray aloud” (pinsky702).
Pinksy reinforces his point with this fact, by providing information on a survey that has reviewed over 300 episodes to conclude that the shows main staple is religion helps lead me as a reader to begin to believe what Pinsky is trying to explain. By providing this information Pinsky helps to validate his point.
A part from explaining the plot of the cartoon, Pinsky goes on to explain the religious context of the characters and their nature. “A part from Billy Graham or Jerry Falwell, Americas best known evangelist is probably Ned Flanders…”(pinsky702).
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I agree with Pinskys point because many people including myself view Ned Flanders as a perfect caricature of an evangelist. From watching the show I can tell that Ned Flanders is a kind, forgive and forget type of character whose nature comes from his faith in his god and his beliefs. Much like many evangelists. “…Christians on college campuses have adopted this affectionate, if not overdrawn character as a mascot“(pinsky702).
I have actually seen Pinkskys statement in reality. People with whom I have spoken with about this subject, who are devout Christians, find that Ned Flanders is not only a perfect example of Christian ideals, but also a great role model for many people despite the fact that he is a fictitious character. I also view Ned Flanders as such and can easily understand why he would be viewed as a mascot to many Christians on college campuses.
Pinsky covers all bases in his essay including discussing how many people feel about their religions being satirized by these animated shows. I feel this is a very important aspect to Pinskys essay because it expresses what the people view on this subject. Pinsky even discusses the show South Park to explain how people are glad that their religions are being satirized. “…As an evangelical Christian, I find that The Simpsons provides me with a mirror that reflects my own Christian life” (pinsky702).
By using this statement Pinsky proves to readers that people enjoy viewing their religions on animated comedies. This is a great quote to use to prove that religion being a focal point for cartoons is a good thing.
Pinsky makes several great points in his essay to prove that religion in cartoons is a good thing for television and also viewers. I agree with all of the arguments Pinsky provides, cartoons really do give us a great understanding and perspective on religious and social topics. Pinsky presents many examples that further prove his point. This is a subject I personally have been infatuated with and really is the reason I watch these cartoons. It makes worldly issues less terrifying and also lets me learn about religions I hardly pay attention to. Pinsky hits his main idea home by stating that in a world where many people do not go to church or care about religion, it is a great thing that cartoons introduce such topics.
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