You’re not a real Simpsons fan if …
In the past few months, the Simpsons has gotten a lot of press. Between Ted Cruz’s bizarre statements surrounding the Simpson family and the Republican Party, and Hari Kondabolu’s The Problem With Apu, the nearly thirty year-old show which has, for many years, been in the background now has a magnifying glass trained in its direction.
I have been a Simpsons fan since the beginning, and when I say “I’m a Simpsons fan!” I don’t mean that I loved seasons one through eight and then stopped. I’ve watched dutifully, every episode, every year, since the beginning. This year, I’ve seen a lot of people claiming they are true Simpsons fans. Buckle up; I’ve got an unfortunate rebuttal for many of you:
You’re not a Simpsons fan if … you think Lisa is the worst Simpson.
Sorry, Ted Cruz. Except not so sorry. Ted Cruz recently claimed that the Republican Party was “proudly” the party of Homer, Bart, Marge and Maggie while the Democrats are the party of Lisa.
Um, dude. Do you watch the show?
Lisa is clearly the conscience of the entire clan, challenging each member and encouraging them to make the right choices. She’s not without her flaws, and there are times at which her thoughtfulness leads to outright depression, but Lisa is the only member of the family that is capable of complex and critical thought, even self-reflection. Is this … a bad thing?
This is to say nothing of the fact that Ted Cruz is entirely wrong if he’s referencing which party affiliation each Simpson clan member would have. Only Marge would be a Republican, and a centrist one at that, seeing as how the years have seen her soften on social issues such as gay rights and social justice. I think we all know that Bart is an anarchist, happily popping in on any looting opportunities afforded to him. That’s right, Ted Cruz. Bart is one of the rogue, wild-card members of Anti-Fa, ruining it for legitimate protesters by throwing a “brick-y-mart” at local, POC-owned businesses.
I know what you're thinking, Ted Cruz. What about Homer? He’s quintessential middle America! Sorry/Not sorry again, Ted Cruz. Homer is clearly an unregistered voter, complaining ad nauseum about how crappy things are, but conspicuously absent on voting day.
And, Maggie? Well, here’s something you may not know, Ted Cruz. Recent studies show that Maggie Simpson is actually a baby. As it turns out, even putting aside voting age, babies usually haven’t developed a sense of political awareness yet. That’s a milestone reserved for a little bit later. Even if you’re accounting for future Maggie in the various speculative episodes, she’s got dyed, spiked hair, piercings, and is pregnant out of wedlock. Yeah. That seems like a good old-fashioned Republican to me. EYE ROLL.
You’re not a Simpsons fan if … you are a Simpsons purist
I’m talking to you Comic Book Guys out there. You know the ones I mean. Those people who claim they are the “true” Simpsons fans because they only watch the first decade (if that) and refuse to acknowledge that the current seasons exist. If this is you, I have some bad news: you are not a Simpsons fan. You are a fan of seasons one through eight of The Simpsons. There is a difference.
You can love a person, and not love certain qualities or phases. But you wouldn’t say “I’m a fan of my Mom, 1996–2003,” would you? You can’t say what is or isn’t good if you don’t watch it.
I’ve watched every single episode of The Simpsons. It hasn’t always been good. Sometimes, it’s downright bad. But I’m a fan, so I watch it. And you know what? To those of you who gave up after the better part of a decade, you’ve missed some really amazing episodes. Behind the Laughter, Future-Drama, The President Wore Pearls, The Seemingly Never-Ending Story, That 90’s Show and The Book Job were all top-notch Simpsons episodes in the later years.
But I’m sure it feels better to be a pretentious douche who still sits around talking about a show that’s been on twenty years longer than you’ve watched it as if you’re an expert. It sure sounds fun. But, you know what I think?
Worst. Fan. EVER.
You’re not a Simpsons fan if … you never want the Simpsons to change
When Hari Kondabolu’s The Problem With Apu came out, it wasn’t the first time I’d heard that particular criticism. It’s referenced in Master of None and The Big Sick, to name a few, and the criticism isn’t even coming from people who hate The Simpsons. In fact, it’s coming from people who love it.
When I saw the episode in which the show-runners “addressed” the issue, I actually cringed. A story-line that could have been a great conversation-started ended halfway through and tossed in that line from Lisa , which was literally worse than not addressing the problem at all. Also, as many pointed out, it didn’t feel like Lisa Simpson (the BEST character, Ted Cruz!) at all. Lisa’s voice is, in fact, hijacked so badly that it sounds like her pen pal, Anya, in Cape Feare whose letter is taken over mid-sentence by “the benevolent General Krull.” Her point, that smoothing over stories with political correctness, takes away from the emotional journey of the character, isn’t wrong. But the show-runners are. We don’t need to hastily add in diverse characters and remove all racist terminology as if it never existed. We tried that in the 90’s and look how that turned out? We need to actually make the changes, and Lisa would think so too.
Apu isn’t a bad character, but if he’s to be the only South Asian character on the show, he really should have someone writing and voicing him from that background. Unless the majority white writers on the show are willing to take feedback, do the research and actually converse with people from the backgrounds they are portraying, they shouldn’t do it at all. Not just because it’s politically correct, but because it will be more funny if they actually know what they’re talking about. Imagine if the reaction had been to hire Hari Kondabolu. That would have been something to talk about.
But, guess what? I love the Simpsons, and I want it to change. For the better. I was thrilled when episodes like Homer‘s Phobia (even though parts of it would look offensive today) paved the way for later episodes that gave more nuance to the LGBTQ characters on the show.
I’m sick of the attitude that being a fan means nothing should change. Fans cross their arms, surly at the concept of a female doctor and a black storm trooper, but what they’re really saying is that they are not real fans. They are fans of what used to be, unwilling to accept a fresh take that could actually be (gasp!) even better.
So, with all of my love for The Simpsons, I do want it to change. I want it to change because the world is changing. And I want it to change because it won’t survive if it doesn’t.
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