Where does “The Simpsons” draw its inspiration and how does this aperate? Discuss with particular reference to “A Star is Burns” episode “The Simpsons” has become one of the most popular cartoons of all time. Its creator Matt Groening could never have fathomed Bart, who he based around himself would become such a household name. Matt took animation back to its roots, creating simple 2D non-humanistic forms. The influences of “The Simpsons” are very clear to anyone who watches the programme.
The first is The Flintstones, this is apparent due to the “family unit”. The Flintstones was the first cartoon sitcom, it dealt with the same family every week and follows a sitcom format, having storylines run for one week but never running over one programme. It was the first cartoon to have longer episodes, lasting up to half an hour whereas most of the time only lasted a few minutes. This type of cartoon created higher expectations from viewers and inspired spoofs such as “The Jetson’s”.
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The Flintstones are the ancestors of The Jetson’s, while Fred and his family are very primitive; George Jetson and his family are very futuristic. This shows the gradual progression of man. “The Simpsons” is based on two cartoons, “The Flintstones” and “The Jetsons”, while one is set in the Stone Age the other is set in the future. “The Simpson’s” is set in between the two, in the present day. It makes references to the two cartoons of which it is indebted to by its name.
The “Flintstones” name is comprised of “flint”; a rock used to make arrowheads etc by cavemen and “stone” which is traditionally related to cavemen. The “Jetson’s” combines a common suffix to surnames “son” with “jet”, a vehicle to be used in the future to transport people into space. Also the “son” could be representative of being the son of “The Flintstones”; only because of this cartoon was it invented. American Sitcoms such as The Brady Bunch, Bewitched, The Cosby Show and Friends are all a large influence of “The Simpsons”.
This is evident by the same characters every week and self contained episodes. There is one major difference between “The Simpsons” and sitcoms though, no member of the Simpson family is perfect, and none of them have perfect lives or even strive to. This is a complete opposite to the families in the sitcoms who are all stereotypically perfect social units, everyone fits perfectly into society and has there own role as part of the family. Even Friends, which was created later, has roles set out for each character which makes them a perfect member of society.
The Cosby Show is the one of the only sitcoms to break any stereotypes due to the perfect family being black and not white but the family is still stereotypically perfect, never having any problems, having the perfect children who may get up to some mischief but everything always works out in the end and never arguing, completely unlike any family in America and yet Americans love to watch them on TV even though they can see that no family is actually like this in real life. The breakthrough sitcom in my opinion was Roseanne, the first sitcom to show a real family, however dysfunctional they may be.
Unlike all other popular sitcoms Roseanne depictures normal people, the main character is fat whereas in all other sitcoms everyone is skinny, she has children to different fathers, all of whom are naughty and cause trouble, often suffering the consequences. Roseanne was the first sitcom to feature a dysfunctional family, quite obviously “The Simpsons” has used this as a major influence, with Home the lazy and rather stupid father and Marge, the mother who does everything while her husband spends his life lazing around doing nothing.
Dan Arnold’s character is very much like that of Homer showing that he was also based on the couch potato culture. Tom and Jerry can also be said to be an influence for “The Simpsons”. This is due to the characters Itchy and Scratchy, of the Itchy and Scratchy Show, who are a parody of the violence seen in “Tom and Jerry”. Itchy and Scratchy cartoons are seemingly very satirical but when thought about the violence contained within them is only slightly more aggressive than that in “Tom and Jerry” cartoons.
When the “Tom and Jerry” cartoons were made there was no questioning any of the violence they contained but in modern society is it sensible to expose children to such violence which found in any other context would be considered to be too severe? Also the plots of both “Tom and Jerry” and “The Simpsons” is very simple, at the beginning of the cartoon a dilemma is established and by the end a resolution has been found, always with good conquering evil. I suppose in a way this bodes well for the “Tom and Jerry” cartoons as they at least have some form of morals, however twisted the way in which they are portrayed.
South Park has only been possible due to “The Simpsons” popularity. It has taken animation even further backwards, using even simpler animation techniques than “The Simpsons”. Also it is aimed at a much older audience, an exclusively adult audience; this is evident by the language used and the scenarios, which are shown, and the bawdy jokes. It is quite obviously a cartoon, with the characters moving across the screen, with no movement of their “limbs”, simply a movement of their whole bodies.
Walt Disney was the “father” of animation, without him animation would almost definitely not be as popular as it is today. Walt Disney and his company made every memorable animated film. For this the creators of “The Simpsons” must be grateful, even if only for the fact that he made animation popular to the masses. Without him “The Simpsons” wouldn’t have been nearly as popular as it is now. Even from his childhood Walt Disney sold his drawings to make himself money. From the beginning of his career Walt was popular with the masses and has made millions from his name alone.