There are stereotypes of different people and beliefs throughout American’s thinking. From early on we learn to associate certain cultural differences to certain individuals. The cartoon representations on The Simpsons are a perfect example of such associations. Each character from the long-running, prime time television show is an archetype of individuals in the American society. Homer, Lisa, Barney, and all the rest give us a look at what ‘typical’ Americans should act like while, at the same time, critiquing their attitudes and behaviors.
The Simpsons is not the average cartoon show. Although it features cute, animated people and many humorous situations it was not meant for children. This is how the show’s writers can get away with such a complex stereotype for each character. Adults and in particular American adults will understand references made buy the characters, their actions and thought processes. When picked apart the main characters of the show, the Simpson family, each have their own Americanized attitudes, which when thrown together encompass the typical ‘nuclear’ family. To set the scene for this example, picture a family of five, all doing their various daily activities: the little boy skateboarding around the neighborhood causing trouble, the little girl at school concentrating on her music, the mother and baby at the supermarket, and the father driving home from a hard days work at the plant.
All of a sudden the viewer is in this family’s house watching them flop onto the couch in front of the television and doing something to make you laugh. This is just the beginning credits from every Simpsons show. From the description given here, it sounds like a nice normal family but actually seeing the events transcribed here paints a very different picture. Each family member in the sequence does something stereotypical of an individual in America.
An American is one who is either a European or a descendant of one. In the early 1600s, the Puritans left England in hope of a better government, a reformed society, and for improved living conditions. The Puritans were in search of religious freedom and to start a new religion completely deviant from the one in England. According to John Winthrop, man has to love his neighbors and care for them ...
Bart, for example, is getting into trouble, running into people on the sidewalks with his skateboard. His character could be the preteen troublemaker we see all across the country. Yet he is clever when performing his wild and crazy antics all over town. In one episode, Bart writes in for a personal ad in the paper.
Come to find out the lady behind the ad is his teach Mrs. Krabappel. He uses his street smarts and child’s imagination to create a fake man, write her love letters, and even come up with a picture to send. Realizing the trouble this could cause him, Bart ends the ‘relationship’ but in an extremely creative manner. The mischief of this ten year old boy could be called typical of all boys his age.
Granted not all little boys end up getting into so much trouble. Any parent can confess that, for the most part, their children are well behaved and good natured. Elementary school teachers are always telling the school and the parents about the great things their students have been doing in class. Although this is true, there are those that like to make a teacher’s and parent’s life a little more interesting. Bart is a representative of all the antics school-aged boys get into.
In no way is Bart a true picture of these boys. He is there to exaggerate the problems we, as a society, perceive these little boys to have, therefore making the show funny and interesting to watch. In another episode, there is a great example of how our society thinks that makes everyone laugh. The Simpson family is having a barbecue and Lisa, being the vegetarian she is, presents her father, Homer, with a salad to eat instead of his roast pig. The initial purpose of the get-together was to help the family get to know the rest of the community.
But much to Lisa’s surprise Homer shuns her food singing, ‘You don’t make friends with salad!’ The social implications of status are shown here, the salad being of lower quality and prestige than a huge roast pig. Again the writers are making fun of how Americans look at social gatherings such as barbecues and questions their relevance. Do people really need to have meat to make friends? No, not at all. Any true friends would like a person for who they were and not what they serve for dinner.
Boys are wonderful, I'm so glad they " re around. The world wouldn't be as fun and exciting without them. They " re always there when you need them, whatever the case is, they would run to you and take care of you. Most of all, the guys are the greatest they do the stupidest things ever. With great attention, guys would always understand you and how you " re feeling. When you " re sad, they would ...
This is another exaggerated aspect of American thinking. It holds little truth but what is there is blow out of proportion enough to make us laugh, and realize how futile the act really is. This process of putting American society under a microscope is what The Simpsons show is all about. Without the characters being so typical, so exaggerated, it could not ‘poke fun’ at what American culture has become.
This show takes people we see, such as our neighbors, TV newscasters, and even celebrities, and blows them out of proportion. In a sense, the character becomes the archetype for American citizens. The qualities the characters show us is the supposed norm, and sometimes, it is too close to reality. Every time one of these ‘norms’ appears through a character’s thoughts or actions, we pause to think and consider how silly, yet real, the action or thought was. If we can picture our friends, bosses, or children as being that character on the screen, then writers for The Simpsons have done an excellent job. They have drawn us in and shown us the stereotypes and patterns of behavior we fall into.
At the same time we laugh, knowing that it is all right to make fun of yourself once in a while.