SMST216-05B Television Week 38 (September 19) The best of television: The Simpsons “Animation”
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Week 38 (September 19)
The best of television: The Simpsons
From the Latin verb ‘animare’=‘to give life to’. The working definition…is a film made by hand, frame-by-frame, providing an illusion of movement which has not been directly recorded in the conventional photographic sense…[includes] cel, hand-drawn and model animation ..also now CGI animation.
P. Wells (1998), Understanding Animation
Often used as a synonym for ‘animation’ but the origins of the cartoon lie in the animation of print comic strips. Cartoons, through much of the c20th, were largely tied to short formats and child audiences; ‘animation’ suggests a larger range of forms and artistic purposes (eg animation as art). Nevertheless, many cartoons are now regarded as ’art’, or the work of auteurs eg Walt Disney (Fantasia) , Chuck Jones, Tex Avery
Some background information:
* These cartoons quickly migrated to television and were initially scattered across the schedule (occasionally appearing in primetime).
Cartoons were now culturally defined as a genre whose primary audience was children and not legitimate entertainment for adults as part of a mass audience.
J. Mittell ‘The Great Saturday Morning Exile’ in Stabile & Harrison eds (2003), Prime Time Animation: Television animation and American culture
A critical moment, in the history of animation on television, was
The Flintstones (1960-1966), on ABC
This was the first animated series produced for primetime television. Developed by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera (Hanna-Barbera)--formerly employed by MGM--and distributed by Screen Gems. Attracted high ratings from its first episode
premiered on the fledgling FOX network
Developed out of a long history of film animation, and a shorter history of television animation--as well as drawing on other traditions of American humour:
Ancestors of The Simpsons (I & II)
[From Chris Turner (2004) Planet Simpson]
The success of The Simpsons created a boom in primetime animation, with the longer-established networks (ABC,CBS,NBC) developing their own series;
Turner: Descendants of The Simpsons
+ Duckman (video)
..because of its cartoon disguise, The Simpsons has been permitted a degree of freedom unparalleled in [American?] mainstream entertainment. The only real controversy it has raised centred on the idea that Bart was a bad role model for kids. The show has otherwise felt free to comment, as sharply and derisively as it likes, on every controversial issue of its time, from religion to sexual orientation to drug use, from political hypocrisy to corporate crime. Turner, PlanetSimpson, 9
The dumbest thing I have ever seen
Barbara Bush (the mother of George Bush!)
This nation needs to be closer to the Waltons than the Simpsons
George Bush (senior)
[and Hey, we’re just like the Waltons! We’re both praying for the end of the Depression
The Simpsons are one of the most subtle pieces of propoganda around in the cause of sense, humility and virtue
Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Wales
The Simpsons frequently parodies the Fox Network, Fox News and Rupert Murdoch (the owner of Fox). Indeed, it is often suggested that the venial Montgomery Burns is modelled on RM [cf. National billboards in the 2005 NZ Election].
The Simpsons is also a Fox-owned property, and enormously profitable around the globe
…even Rupert Murdoch isn’t crazy enough to sue himself.
Ben Woodhams, (2004), ‘Yellow Peril’, Cult Times #33
In genre terms, The Simpsons is most clearly a sitcom, displaying the following characteristics:
George Meyer, executive producer (in Lealand & Martin, 63)
Executive producer Al Jean (from season 13-) In Idato , ‘America’s first family’, Sunday Star Times, Oct 10 2004
Bart, I want to share something with you - the three little sentences that will get you through life. Number One, ‘Cover for me’. Number Two, ‘Oh Good idea boss’. Number Three, ‘It was like that when I got here’
We live in a society of laws. Why do you think I took you to all those Police Academy Movies? For fun?
The answers to life’s problems aren’t at the bottom of a bottle; they’re on TV!
….inspired by Bart?