I first became aware of Matt Groening through a series of books reprinting the Life In Hell comic strip: Work Is Hell and School Is Hell – the latter cover features a one-eared rabbit writing on the chalkboard repeated, “I must remember to be cheerful and obedient.” My favorite, though, was Love Is Hell, part of my off-and-on philosophy at the time.
I was watching The Tracy Ullman Show when this strange, dysfunctional cartoon family came on. The characters reminded me greatly of the Hell characters, and I was instantly drawn in. Then, a couple years later, they got their own show. I watched it fairly religiously for the first eight or nine seasons, not quite so faithfully in the last eight or nine years.
I had never been able to convince my wife that the Simpsons are good, clever. She seemed to find them coarse and crude, which, of course, they are. But there’s more to them than that. Finally, I had borrowed a Simpsons DVD of an early season from the library, and my wife caught a Treehouse of Horror segment when Homer reads “The Raven”. She LIKED it!
I went to a presentation by a librarian last year who was talking about copyright, and at one point, he ran a segment from the Simpsons that addressed why they couldn’t sing Christmas carols that weren’t in the public domain. The speaker said that 30-second piece addressed most of the major concerns of copyright law. (It’s on this video, starting at about 50 seconds in.)
Just one example of their culture impact: The Rhetoric of Homer Simpson.
Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the first appearance of the Simpsons. I may have to pull out my soundtrack, sing along with the musical version of Streetcar Named Desire or “Monorail” or “Baby’s on Board.” The longest-running animated program, one of the longest running primetime shows PERIOD, has definitely passed the audition, even if Barney still doesn’t get it.
Thanks to rain for the last two or three days, Lake 54 almost crested. Actually, we’re better off than our next door neighbors, whosee lawn is lower than ours and is still covered with nearly a foot of water. Our basement is damp; theirs is flooded.