Cultural crossovers: The Simpsons feat. The Arts


As we have
TV classics The Simpsons earlier, we simply cannot constrain ourselves
to the one small post about this iconic family.  We should explore the world of art references
and quotations in The Simpsons as the show has the huge cultural impact and
high level of social critique. There are some direct citations of the art works,
tendencies occurring in certain periods, collaborations with some artists, and
reflections upon the art heritage, particularly American art. So let’s start
our journey!

Couch gags

entertaining feature has become an important part of the show long time ago.
The variety of the openings and collaboration proves that couch gag is quite
an independent phenomenon. The Simpsons is like a pop-culture mirror
that reacts immediately to any social, political, and cultural issues, and
sometimes this mirror becomes self-reflective. For instance, in the premiere of the 26th season’s couch gag The Simpsons evolve into the most surrealistic TV family ever. Thanks to the efforts of Don Hertzfeldt,

two-time Academy Award nominated animator and independent filmmaker. 

This couch gag is the longest one in the history of the show and has been described by Spin Magazine as “two of the strangest minutes of television ever to air on a major network during prime time.” 

Quite a sensation has made a collaboration with mysterious street artist Banksy. Both The Simpsons and Banksy talk about similar topics such as over-consumption, global capitalism, and mass culture. So no wonder “MoneyBart” couch gag turned out to be highly critical and self-reflective, beautifully combining artist’s views and signature irony with show’s classical aesthetics.

Provocative opening made a big fuzz, and even had to be cut a little due to broadcasting standards. “I’ll just
say, it was even a little sadder. But I would have to say almost all of it
stayed in.” Al Jean, an executive producer, told to the ArtsBeat. Also, let’s appreciate the irony of the Chalkboard gag with Banksy being a street artist. 


Another surprising couch gag was made by the French animator Sylvain Chomet, who had put the Simpsons family into the stereotypical French reality. While the show is mainly focused on the American environment, many of its problems and issues are familiar to the viewers all over the world.


Art allusions

Over its 26 seasons, The Simpsons has done numerous art references in a form of a direct citation or composition imitation. The creators of the show loved the Modernists and appropriated many of their works.


They also haven’t forgotten about the great Renaissance masters like Da Vinci and Botticelli. 


The show also has a tremendous number of allusions on the American artists such as Andrew Wyeth, Norman Rockwell, and Grant Wood.


And the list could go on and on (so as the show!). But we are going to stop here and quickly jump into the conclusions. The Appropriation Art has its TV reincarnation, and it’s The Simpsons. The show basically illustrated the postmodernist tendency to joke about art heritage and symbolic icons of modern time. The Simpsons connected the phenomenon known as television with high standard art, thus continuing the research of the mass culture influences and viewers’ perspectives on the meaning of art nowadays. This discussion is essential not only for American culture, but for the whole discourse on the relevance of the contemporary art and culture worldwide. 

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