Role of the reader and aberrant readings— The Simpsons

The Simpsons is the iconic, satirical American sitcom cartoon. Shown all around the world, it appeals to a vast audience including different social, age, and economical demographics. Through a narrative structure and stereotypical characterisation it explores, with some derision, the typical America lower-middle-class family. The empirical audience can appreciate the social commentary the show explores while also conscious that it is comedic: therefore understanding that hyperbolic displays of emotion or impractical storylines are intended to amuse an audience. An informed audience can further deduce, that perhaps The Simpson’s family epitomises the destruction of the American dream: exploring themes of consumerism, corrupted politicians, wealth disparity, secularism and insufficient education systems.

It is the general audience’s social construct, particularly those of modern-westered civilisations, which enables The Simpsons to flourish and remain relevant. If the show, however, were introduced to someone of a strong religious affinity often in theocratic countries, it would then adopt an entirely new interpretation. Homer may be interpreted as repugnant and abhorrent in his gluttony and violence; Bart as disrespectful and mischievous; Lisa as pretentious and narcissistic; and perhaps, Maggie as sloth — who knows?

It is the characters faults however, that ground The Simpsons in reality. An empirical audience does not aspire to conform to the family’s mould, but rather can empathise or sympathise with respective characters: ultimately, Homer is well-meaning father; Marge a hard-working mother; Bart a rebellious yet loving son; and Lisa an intelligent and compassionate daughter.





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