Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Child's play

Speaking of '80s television (see previous post), my editor and I were arguing about whether "The Simpsons" counts as a children's show.

She argues that the show's humor and topics are clearly aimed at adults. I counter that although it airs in primetime (as"The Flintstones" did originally), the overwhelming number of "Simpsons" fans are kids and it was among kids that the show had the biggest influence (witness the number of 12-year-olds wearing "Don't have a cow, man" t-shirts back around 1990).

I am unswayed by the fact that much of the show's humor is too sophisticated for children -- much of the humor in Pixar's "The Incredibles" was too sophisticated for anyone who hadn't studied Nietsche, but it didn't keep the crowds away.

Anyway, weigh in with your opinion and I promise not to dismiss it out of hand*.

*Dismissing opinions out of hand doesn't allow me the pleasure of crushing their flimsy logic in the iron grip of my logic. And so forth.

One other semi-humorous '80s aside: While I was writing Thursday's column, I needed to look up when Dana Carvey first did his "Nah ganna do it. Wouldn't be prudent" riff on the first President Bush. The only reference I could find to the actual date was in David Halberstam's book "War in a Time of Peace: Bush, Clinton, and the Generals." I find that seriously weird.


At 7:39 AM, July 05, 2007, Anonymous ethan said...

I'll play both sides a little here: the genius and long-term success of The Simpsons is in its ability to play to multiple audiences simultaneously.

The Simpsons is written for the entertainment of relatively intelligent folks - loaded with great cultural references (not just "pop"), politically incorrect stereotyping, etc.

At the same time, they were successful in layering in: somewhat stupid catch phrases - such as "don't have a cow man" and "doh" (a monosyllabic utterance as "catch phrase!?" yes!), extremely physical humor, and dozens of colorful characters and language.

On a micro-Simpsons scale, the "Itchy and Scratchy" cartoons are an excellent example of this multi-play approach.

I could go on. The show is completely excellent, though the attention I've paid to it has steadily declined over the past six years or so.

Bottom line: I probably wouldn't show it to a kid under seven or eight, but I'm sure a four year old would enjoy watching it.

At 8:51 AM, July 05, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simpsons were originally designed as kids tv but the kids have grown up, their interests haven't


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