Books and Movies Reviews

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The American animation The Simpsons is now in its 10th season as a show in its own right. It was created by Matt Groening as shorts for the Tracy Ullman Show and was bought by the Fox Network, which began screening it as half-hour shows in 1989. Initially its success was restricted to the 9-16 year old age group, and for animation there is nothing remarkable about this. Its success grew quickly and it is now popular in many countries with many different audiences. “In the 1990s we are seeing dramatic transformations in media industries and media cultures. In geographical terms, these transformations may be seen in the shift from national to global media.” The Simpsons can be seen as both a remarkable piece of global culture and as a hugely successful piece of global television. (One need only look on an Internet search engine to discover that there are literally millions of Simpsons fan-sites around the world.). The Simpsons themselves are a simple family in a small town in Middle America called Springfield. They are: Homer (loyal but stupid father), Marge (dissatisfied, trapped housewife/mother), Bart (rebellious son), Lisa (unappreciated genius daughter), and Maggie (silent baby). The show also revolves around a number of other of the townsfolk, such as Mr Burns (Homer’s miserly boss), Smithers (Burns’s loving assistant), Apu (Indian shop owner), Principal Skinner and Moe (owner of the local bar). There are a number of reasons why we cannot simply view The Simpsons as a cartoon like any other. The rules and conventions that it follows are far more those of television or cinema than those of animation. The humour within The Simpsons exists on many different levels ranging from the obvious to the subtle, from the literary to the movie reference, and beyond. But most importantly we must consider the show’s ability to make significant social comment, on general issues of culture and society, but more specifically on television, film and …

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