‘Simpsons’ satirizes everything but motherhood

Andrea Ford

Every seat in the Connelly Cinema was filled for “Mom and Pop Culture: ‘The Simpsons’ is not as Irreverent as You Think,” presented Monday by Dr. Dale Snow and Dr. James Snow of the philosophy department of Loyola College in Baltimore.

James Snow said the popular animated Fox series, now in its 14th season, is an “enduring text” that can be used as a teaching tool because of its common appeal. Though highly critical of the series, the Snows stressed that they are also great fans of the show.

The Snows explained that through its portrayals of the public domain, the show cleverly satirizes a host of societal ills including political corruption, incompetent law enforcement officials, the ineffective educational system and the superficial clergy of postmodern religion.

The lecture became increasingly critical as they discussed the show’s portrayal of the private sphere. They claimed the show upholds the oppressive traditional structure of the family.

The Snows presented a list of iconic television mothers, including June Cleaver, Lily Munster, Mrs. Cun-ningham and Roseanne. The speakers argued that like these characters, Marge Simpson is restricted to a sacrificial condition.

“The show makes fun of absolutely everything except motherhood. In this way, this show is very conservative,” said Dale Snow.

The speakers noted their theory is reinforced by the show’s statistics. The fictional town of Springfield has a male to female ratio of four to one. Furthermore, according to Dale Snow, 60 percent of the shows focus on Homer, 20 percent focus on Bart, and the rest of the shows are divided among the other characters. These numbers, the Snows explained, implicitly communicate the importance of men over women.

They pointed out that “The Simpsons” is not the only show with a gender imbalance, though. Dale Snow said most television shows and movies focus on men. Historically, shows critical of traditional domesticity have been unsuccessful. The speakers mentioned that the popular NBC sitcom “Friends” was one of the first shows to feature equal numbers of men and women, but because of its unconventional quality the hit series was initially difficult to get on the air.

Sophomore Sarah Oberhauser said, “Pop culture affects every aspect of our lives, and it’s definitely a reflection of society. I think it was really interesting to use ‘The Simpsons’ to look at these issues.”

As part of its “Ethics and Popular Culture” lecture series, the ethics department has already hosted a talk titled “Business Ethics: Lessons Drawn from Star Trek.”