Satire is an extensive form of mockery. The Simpsons uses exaggeration and comedy to mock the TV culture of America. In America, at the moment most children tend to go home from school and spend the rest of the night watching TV. This episode is trying to show that TV is killing children’s imagination and influencing them negatively. When the children stop liking the cartoons they start going out and playing traditional games like hopscotch, marbles and fishing. In this episode Maggie is influenced negatively by the Itchy and Scratchy cartoons, Marge realises and starts protesting to get them banned. The children then find the new style of the cartoons boring and they go out to play rubbing their eyes, as they are not use to playing outside. The producers use parody, as a form of satire by copying the Psycho scene when Janet Leigh is killed.
In the episode, Maggie is watching violent cartoons that influence her. The cartoon shows a mouse and a cat that are endlessly beating each other up. The opening song is catchy, “We fight, we bite, we fight, we bite, we fight”. In the episode of Itchy and Scratchy, the characters are hitting each other over the heads with mallets. Immediately after she goes down to the basement were Homer is doing some DIY, picks up a mallet and hits Homer with it. This proves that the Itchy and Scratchy Show is influencing the children.
The producers of The Simpsons use parody as a technique to satirise the TV culture of America by including the Psycho scene. When Maggie attacks Homer for the first time the directors include the same music and camera angles. This is because Psycho is a well-known horror film, which is easily recognised. From then on, every time Maggie goes to attack Homer they include the same music as if to say she’s about to do something evil. This is satire as you just laugh at the thought of a little baby beating her over weight father up and trying to kill him.
The Simpsons copies many techniques to parody the Psycho scene but the two most noticeable are the music and camera angles. It uses the same kind of camera angles during the attack to try and make it more dramatic. There is a close up of Homer’s mouth just as he realises that Maggie is about to hit him, this is the same as when Janet Leigh is just about to be killed. Also the directors copy the overhead shot of the plug which is faded out to become the eye once the victim had been hit.
The music is easily recognisable, as most of the audience have seen the film or would recognise that it is out of a horror film. The audience will hear the music and think that something bad is about to happen. This is because the music is quite slow and quiet, and when there is a quick sudden movement it makes you jump. These techniques combine to make the scene recognisable and easy to relate to. Although it does this, it manages to put its point across in a humorous way. This means that if you were just watching you probably wouldn’t think about the meaning behind it, as you know what kind of programme The Simpsons is so would just laugh which is the designed effect.
In the second episode of Itchy and Scratchy, the cat and mouse are still trying to beat each other up and so are still influencing in a negative way. Itchy is trying to stab Scratchy and kill him. Immediately afterwards Maggie picks up a pencil and walks over to Homer, Marge spots this and stops her. She looks over at the TV and realises that the cartoon is what is influencing her and wants to do something about it.
Marge writes a letter to the producers of Itchy and Scratchy telling them she wants the cartoons changed. In return she receives a letter calling her a “screwball” and that “one person cannot make a difference”. This is ironic as America is meant to be a democracy where everyone has freedom of speech and expression. She starts protesting and is invited onto a chat show. The title of the show was “Are cartoons to violent for children?” which the host replied to by saying, “of course not, what sort of stupid question is that”. Her they are using parody to satirise talk shows. The host is meant to be neutral but this host is obviously more one sided in the argument. She is given nine seconds to put her point across. So she is not aloud substantial time in order to put her point across. She ends up winning though and the cartoons are changed.
The cartoon now begins with the song, “We love, we share, we love, we share, we care”. The Itchy and Scratchy cartoons are now about happy things and in the one Maggie is watching they are sharing the lemonade. Maggie is once again influenced and she goes over to Homer to give him a glass of lemonade. At first he doesn’t know what she is doing and backs off and then he realises that her intentions are good and only wants to give her dad a drink. This shows that she is still being influenced but this time for the better.
Once the cartoons have changed the kids do not like them and start going out to play. The music slows down and changes into a piece of happy classical music by Beethoven. The children started playing traditional games such as hopscotch, dancing round the maypoles and used their imagination and spirits to make them fun. Homer referred to this time as “the golden age” and told Marge that she had “changed the world for the better”. The children ate their dinner with manners and were polite to their parents. This shows that when children don’t spend as much time watching TV they spend their time doing positive, worthwhile thing and are more obedient as TV is no longer poisoning their minds.
At the end of the episode Marge lost the argument and the TV went back to having lots of violence. This was because the people did not understand how she could be “for one form of expression, but not for another”. She didn’t feel that anything was wrong with Michel Anglos David, where as the other women in the town felt nudity was evil. The cartoons went back to being more violent than ever and all the children went back inside leaving the playground empty and the music becomes slower and less cheerful. Maggie was again influenced by the cartoons and picked up a toy gun and shoot it at a picture of Homer.
In conclusion The Simpsons uses many ways to satirise the TV culture. They use music, parody, and exaggeration. They try to do it in a comic way and get their point across well. It could be argued that the September 11th attack could also have been caused by violence on TV. It may be that the attackers would never have got the ideas if it wasn’t for films such as Independence Day. Although The Simpsons is only a cartoon it highlights the influence TV has on the actions of people.
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