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The Simpsons: Spreading a Message the Youth Need to Adopt

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The Simpsons, voted the greatest running cartoon show in recent awards, is renowned for the significant, symbolic messages it aims to depict to the viewers via a caricature medium.

It is a show that can be enjoyed by two diverse viewers:

  • An adolescent audience: youngsters who are able to relate to the youth in the cartoon with their everyday problems and joys.
  • A mature audience: adults who can observe the show and relate to the political, religious and social issues the show portrays, often indirectly transmitted, exclusively for adults and mature adolescents to comprehend.

A particular episode in the Simpsons inspired this article to be written, which will be discussed as follows.

The basis of the episode’s main subject matter presents the influences of the television, especially on the youngsters of the fictional town of Springfield, U.S.A. The majority of the youth in the Simpsons devotedly watch their favourite ‘The Itchy and Scratchy’ cartoon show, similar to the real world’s popular cartoon
show, Tom and Jerry. The episode begins with Homer Simpson, the protagonist and head of the Simpson family, finding himself a victim subjected to a hammer attack to his head.

To his shock he is only to discover that the criminal is his two year old daughter, Maggie. In response to this incident, the matriarchal blue-haired mother, Marge Simpson, is intrigued to discover what inspired her daughter to carry out this horrendous act.

While Lisa and Bart Simpson, the senior offspring of the Simpson family, are fervently enjoying ‘The Itchy and Scratchy’ show, Marge discovers that her daughter Maggie is influenced by the violence contained in the cartoon, as the cat and mouse race to slam each other on the head with a hammer.

As an ordinary American citizen with an instinctive duty to protect the family and neighbouring residents, it is common to complain about any issue in a democratic country that exercises the freedom of speech.

This instinctive duty leads Marge to compose a letter directed to the producers of the cartoon, voicing her profound concerns on the violence daily broadcasted to the public. The managing director rejected Marge’s requests to include non-violent themes to the cartoon, stating that “we won’t change a cartoon just because of one screwball; you would need a lot of people for us to take your irrational requests in consideration.”

Determined not to lose this battle, Marge begins what she terms a “crusade” to change the nature of television. From demonstrations in front of the television station to letters and petitions, neighbouring residents in Springfield join the common goal to bring an end to violent and inappropriate television shows.

Through her campaign she attracts the attention of the press and is interviewed on a prime-time news program. There she pleads the viewers to raise their concerns and write to the cartoon producers. In fact, hundreds of people write in to complain about the violence on the show, which finally seems to have an effect on the producers.

The managing director makes a telephone call to Marge and reluctantly asks her to share her ideas on an alternative themed episode; in turn she gives them a peaceful episode rather than the past violent ones. Marge permits her children to watch the cartoon which has changed into one that portrays images such as peace and love, which children can positively absorb in order to adopt these characteristics.

The children of Springfield are unimpressed by this innovative version of their cartoon, which leads them to head outdoors to their front gardens. They are pictured as walking from the darkness into the light, rubbing their television static eyes, stepping into the sunlight and playing in the fresh air with other youth, being productive and proactive in their society. These youth finally have a purpose in life as they break the chains of television and free themselves, resulting from the determination of one woman: Marge Simpson.

The youth have abandoned the television, replacing it with activities such as bird watching, fishing, sports, building various things, etc. Homer is surprised at his children’s dramatic change of character and calls it, “the golden age”, as they show characteristics such as politeness, courtesy and outgoingness in society. Indeed Homer touches a fine point when he tells Marge, “I always knew you would change the world.”

This episode gives the impression that the Simpsons live in a perfect world; but if it was that perfect in reality, we would not have video clips that present half-naked women provocatively popping out on our screens, attempting to sell their music, with directors using every well known trick in the marketing strategy book.

Many are against such productions being broadcasted daily on exclusive music channels and standard channels on Arab satellites, illuminating the faces of societal members in cafes, restaurants and homes. Many television programs on the Arab Satellites, including Iqraa, have frequent discussions concerning this new societal disease, which namely infringes many of the teachings of Islaam, such as lowering ones’ gaze, guarding ones’ modestly, and performing an act with a productive and decent aim.

However, those in the music and video clip industry are adamant that their productions are what the viewers want, a similar response to the managing director in the Simpsons portrayed earlier; in the name of business, they believe they are not defying any principles.

In reality, a fog has descended on our youth. This leaves them blinded and paralysed by these video clips and the illicit messages they illustrate. Indeed this produces a generation who have hindered their purpose in life; they become lazy, empty-headed and mind warped by such materials. The hypnotising light of the television tempts these youth to follow in the footsteps of these singers in the way they act, dress and talk; a nation of zombie wannabes. 

So what is the cure to this social disease? A few youth attempted to compose a petition in order to voice their concerns over these video clips. Nevertheless, those in video clips. Nevertheless, those in the video clip industry argue that these people have the choice to simply change the channel, giving a choice to the viewers’ preferences.

Alternatively those against these video clips say this disease should not be present in Arab societies, as it socially conditions the youth to involve themselves in sinful activities.It also produces sick minded individuals to commit sick minded crimes, which recent reports on Arab television have shown. 

Surely this is comparable to Maggie Simpson hammering her father on the head, as she too was following in the footsteps of her cartoon friends. The youth of our society also copy these video clips, consciously or subconsciously, losing their identity with every glimpse they take.

Marge Simpson did not agree with the violence on the television, and she achieved her objective to immobilise it from the mainstream media. Although it is a cartoon, it reflects real life campaigns which have been successful, such as banning scenes with nudity and excessive violence from shows targeted at the general youth population.

These social actors feel that they have a duty to voice their concerns until they are heard, so shouldn’t we as people who are concerned about these video clips follow our instinctive duty? Shouldn’t we voice our concerns in a proactive and productive manner like Marge Simpson, rather than complaining between ourselves about the horrors of such video clips that even our young children are subjected to?

Indeed our society requires genuine role models who are modest, humble and successful in their everyday lives; not role models who spread the message to the youth to engage in immoral activities which defies beliefs of many Arabs regardless of their faith.

Marge Simpson achieved her dream to cleanse the television from violence, let us achieve our vision to
cleanse our media from indecency and immorality; as citizens of the world it is our right to exercise this freedom of speech.

Let us strive to end the vice plot to use the woman’s body to sell such products and ideas. Like the youth in the Simpsons, it is time to step out of our homes, rub our television static, mind wrapped eyes, and step into the real world’s illuminating brightness. The whole world awaits the arrival of our success; don’t let the television press the power off button to your life. Begin the first step of success by pressing the power off button on the television’s remote control and make a difference in this world.

Tips to Boycott Indecent Clips:

  1. Delete these channels; the more people who watch these video clips, the more advertising money these video clips gain.
  2. Write to television stations that air such video clips.
  3. Advise all your friends to delete these channels.
  4. Don’t buy or download songs that have indecent video clips.
  5. Don’t mention these clips and indirectly advertise for them.
  6. Watch alternative channels that airs nasheed and decent video clips and encourage others to do so.
  7. Write petitions directed to broadcasting companies who air these video clips and the directors and producers who make them.
  8. Let everyone know about these tips, make copies and raise awareness about this boycott to cleanse our television from such immorality.  
Marwah Elazhary -
Marwah El-Azhary [Marwah Alazhary] is founder, editor-in-chief and site administrator of daralislamlive.com, a translation and creative arts website, publishing in English the works of influential preachers such as Amr Khaled ['Amr ’Khaaled].Read More >>

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Last Updated on Monday, 25 December 2006 22:39  

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