The Simpsons Movie as a Christian vechile
Every movie is a little world that creates it’s own little precepts. The Simpsons movie though might very well be the largest critique of 90s American liberalism I can think of though. God exists in Springfield and Homer Simpson, whose Jebus joke once represented a growing national apathy towards religion, is now an outsider lacking the warm family values and influence on morality that Ned Flanders has. Homer’s “jebus” comment not only seems used, but he makes it in church where the humor changes from being freeing oneself from religious dictate to being oblivious to the insentitivty of the joke. Once upon a time Flanders was a shinning example of the confining strictures of traditional values, while Lisa expelled neo-liberalism, and Homer was a good hearted man whose pleasure seeking seemed a healthy, but self-obsessed past time. The Simpsons have now become something of the outcastes of their block versus the way they almost perfectly caught the dysfunctional, but loving aspects of the American family in the mid-90s. Flanders has become a foil who knocks Homer and his family off the block. While Lisa’s idealism has become more sharpened and she still commands a certian amount of respect, you can’t help but feel as the show changed from Bart to Homer it is now becoming little more than a vechile for Flander’s philosophy. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Ned isn’t a bad guy, but part of what made The Simpsons fun was its acceptance of our imperfections, the way not only god had died, but the way we’d lost our fathers and families had exploded from homogenous cultures like the Flanders to the plurality of views of The Simpsons’ address. Flanders was funny becuase next to memories of Tammy Fay Baker, the boredome of childhood church pews, and the utter exasperation of the religious right to deal with the yuppie ideals of the 80s as they became the engine of the country’s progress and enshrined in the form of tolerance, such an image of a Christian seemed not only ridicilous and out of whack with the country as a whole, but down right unwholesome. One gets the feeling that Murdoch and company have reshaped the show for a new demographic, but it’s telling that in order for the christian values of right-wing american to entertain, they have to borrow a story and a people from those that opposed them.