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Posts tagged ‘media’

Two rules of TV: Don’t swear and don’t whip it out

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You Kent Always Say What You Want

Couch gag: Flashback to 20 years prior when the Simpsons incarnated as they looked on The Tracy Ullman Show. The opening sequence is replaced with the short: ‘Family Portrait’.

Director: Matthew Nastuk

Guest voices:
Ludacris as himself
Maurice LaMarche as Birch Barlow

Synopsis: Kent Brockman says a Very Bad Swear on live television and is fired, causing him to use Lisa’s webcam to speak out about liberal media.

Discussion: As the “official” 400th episode (the previous ep, ’24 Minutes’ was slated to be the 400th, but aired prior to this one in a special one hour slot), I have to say that it doesn’t tick all the boxes. The opening sequence is fantastic; a throwback to the Tracy Ullman days when the family looked and sounded very different to today. However, the main plot of Kent getting fired falls quite flat.

The episode is a satire of liberal media, taking quite a few digs at Fox in the process. But hey, when you make as much money for your network as The Simpsons does, you pretty much have a free rein to say what you like!

There is a lot of truth in the criticisms of the media, and if we think we have a free media, we’re delusional. Often on social media comes a meme where thousands are killed in Syria yet the media is currently focused on a royal baby. I’ve mentioned before that I am a university student; I’m not majoring in journalism but a lot of my units are journalism units. There’s a lot of theory about what journalism is and should be, but in reality, we have no free media and no journalistic ethics. Media prints what people want to see: for example, in the 1980s and 90s, Australian magazines printed anything they could on the antics of Diana, Princess of Wales. Every time Diana was on the cover, the magazine was guaranteed to sell over a million copies (which is massive sales; remember that Australia has 1/10th the population of the US). When Diana died, the media corporations were bombarded with vitriolic remarks such as “You killed her!”, in reference to the paparazzi’s alleged involvement in her death. But… people bought the magazines, leading to the paparazzi’s big payday every time they sold a picture… Wake up!

Anyhoo, I digress. Kent Brockman is fired and joins the many people who have spent a night sleeping on the Simpsons’ couch. Truthfully, I found the storyline a bit dragging. I was hoping for a bit more substance; what would happen if Homer became anchor for Channel 6 news? He could have Bart and Lisa doing the work for him… it would be hilarious. But no. Someone, somewhere, decided a dig at liberal media would be much better. For that effort, I have to give it an average mark. Bart’s antics with a drugged up Skinner and Marge recognising Maggie’s drawings were much funnier than the main plot. Good luck with season 19!

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We make a groin grabbingly good team

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Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner?

I am not The Last Don

Couch gag: Matt Groening’s name is written on the carpet. Marge scrubs it off but an animated Matt re-writes it. 

Director: Nancy Kruse

Guest voice:
Ed Asner as the newspaper editor

Synopsis: Homer is employed as a food critic, but when the other critics deride him for never giving a bad review, Homer’s articles now spark outrage from local food markets who plot to kill him. 

Discussion: Homer as a food critic seems a logical choice; he does eat a lot of food. However, he does so indiscriminately, which is why all his reviews are glowing. In a satirical look at the power of the media, the residents of Springfield grow obese as a direct result of Homer’s reviews. The other critics point out that he needs to give a bad review, so he does. This turns business sour so the food operators decide to kill Homer with a poisoned eclair. Simples! 

This episode shows a lot of promise but I’m not sure it really delivers. I think the death plot is just too out-there for it to be plausible. Yes, this is a sitcom and yes, this is an animated series, but the show often deals with real life themes and situations so throwing in a death plot seems out of place and not really fitting with the overall show. Homer as a food critic is inspired, the death plot: not so much. 

Special mention has to be made of two points: 

1) The power of media to influence the masses. Currently in Australia, we have an election campaign where Rupert Murdoch’s media (he also owns the FOX Network, owner of The Simpsons) have been trying very hard to tarnish the reputation of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and get him voted out. Public opinion on this isn’t positive, however the power of the media and the fact that it has gone viral not only here in Australia but the world just shows that people are paying attention. Subconsciously, this may affect their vote. In this Simpsons episode, the residents of Springfield become obese because they’re eating at all the places Homer recommends. We can’t underestimate the power of the media, and this is satirised nicely. The Murdoch connection really stand out here. 

2) In the scene where Lisa is trying to stop Homer from eating the eclair, pay attention to the camera angles and the way urgency is depicted. It’s brilliant, especially for an animated series. 

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