Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Communism and The Simpsons

I'm a little bummed out now that winter has started and I don't have any more Honolulu posts to make. Patton Oswalt recommends reading Russian literature during the months of unrelenting night and cold, because artful despair makes regular despair feel kind of heroic.

Fortunately, I've got my supply of depressing winter reads on hand. Coming back from the laundry last weekend, I went through a box on a stoop that was full of parenting books and books about life under Communism in Eastern Europe. Right now I'm reading "We Survived Communism and Even Laughed," by Slavenka Drakulic. I haven't gotten to the part where we laugh yet, but I DID have a moment of eery familiarity when the author wrote about how difficult it is for the young to get jobs and afford to move out of their parents' apartments in communist Yugoslavia.

I'm also newly appreciative of the United States Postal Service for NOT opening my mail and charging me exorbitant fees for crappy phone service (like, more than 50% of your yearly salary in fees).

[patriotism intensifies]
I'll also be using the winter to catch up on "The Simpsons," which is now online in its entirety. When the website first went live, I couldn't actually watch any of the episodes. The sheer volume of entertainment at my fingertips overwhelmed me and I had to look away. My sister says that's called "decision fatigue," like when we went to Don Quijote to get groceries and there were so many snack options in the food court outside that we almost couldn't bring ourselves to buy lunch once we got inside. (I had more to say about my Honolulu trip after all.)

I got over it, of course. I'm not watching the series in any kind of systematic way--the BF and I did that last year with the DVDs--but I'm meandering through the early seasons and watching my favorites. Here are a few of them, in no particular order:

"Last Exit to Springfield." The nuclear plant workers go on strike. I laugh at Homer chanting, "Where's my burrito!" I cry at Lisa singing, "They have the plant, we have the power."

"Scenes from a Class Struggle in Springfield." The best Marge episode ever. She gets a Chanel suit at an outlet mall and it gets her invited to the country club, where her desire to belong to a higher social class clashes against her economic reality.

"Lisa the Iconoclast." Ah, Lisa. My first television role model (after Catwoman). Springfield celebrates its bicentennial and Lisa discovers its beloved founder was actually a murderous asshole. Lisa-centric episodes tend to be more bittersweet than laugh-out-loud funny, but this episode brought us "embiggens," which is a perfectly cromulent word.

"Homer the Great." Who robs canefish of their sight? Who rigs every Oscar night? WE DO! And Patrick Stewart says "swollen ass." What's not to love?

"Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy." It's been a tired cliche for feminists to rant about Barbie for forty years, but damned if "The Simpsons" don't find something new to say about the topic.

"Bart After Dark." 1996 marked the beginning of the burlesque resurgence because "The Simpsons" did an episode about it. Prove me wrong.

"Marge vs. the Monorail." This show had great music.

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