New Kids on the Blecch
I will not buy a Presidential pardon
Couch gag: The family, dressed in prison uniforms, burrow their way to the couch
Director: Steven Dean Moore
N Sync as themselves
Synopsis: Bart, Milhouse, Nelson and Ralph form a boy band as a recruitment ploy for the navy
Discussion: Sorry, gotta go. I’ve had a sudden urge to join the navy…
Bart is invited to join a boy band as the “bad boy” and, despite none of the members being able to sing in tune, gain some success. It’s a fantastic episode although it does lose pace once Lisa figures out the real meaning of the catchy tunes. And I know N Sync were the most popular boy band on the planet at the time this ep was produced, however it just feels dated now, especially when Justin Timberlake is saying “Word” after every line (all this time, I thought he was saying “wired”…)
So, to compensate for this dated feel, I imagined this whole episode with One Direction as the guest stars, and it made the ep 150% funnier (who doesn’t love Niall?) Can’t wait for an actual 1D episode of The Simpsons… But I digress. Bart’s boy band is really just a recruitment ploy for the navy, who are planting subliminal messages in the lyrics and film clips of the Party Posse. Shock, horror! Lisa’s discovery of this causes Lt LT Smash to go nuts and pull the plug on the Party Posse’s concert. Boo hoo
So, how does this kind of thing stack up? Well, if you’d followed the link to YouTube, you’d now see that I’m a fan of Gruen Planet, which analyses marketing. Coincidentally, recently the Gruen team looked at advertising for defense forces and how the army is pitched to make people want to join. This was going through my head as I watched ‘New Kids on the Blecch’ and I think that targeting kids, particularly tween females, is probably a really good way to get them interested in a defense career. As with the 1D marketing of a perfume, you’re getting kids at an impressionable age and making them a consumer for life. In this case, you’re making a naval career appealing (even without subliminal messages, which are widely disputed as being effective) and ensuring the next stage of recruits for an important job. Simples!
As an episode, it’s a good one. It’s a great idea to put Bart in a boy band, although I wish some of the pitfalls of fame could be explored, such as tween girls stalking the band when they were trying to pee, or some such nonsense (during a recent visit to Perth, One Direction were performing in town and staying in a hotel nearby to where I was staying. Tween girls were going nuts trying to stalk the boys). Destroying the band and MAD magazine to avoid negative publicity is a bit weak as far as plots go, and eerily predictive since this ep originally aired just months before the destruction of the twin towers in the September 11, 2001 attacks. Still, the ideas of the ep hold up nicely.