The specific children’s series that I will be discussing is entitled “The Simpson’s”. The main characters consist of Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart, and Maggie Simpson. They reside in a town called Springfield, one that is typical of an American suburb. Some other characters which appear on a regular basis are Mr. Burns, the owner of the Springfield chemical plant, his assistant Weiland Smithers, the Flanders family, which resides right next door to the Simpson’s, and principal Skinner.
He is the head administrator of the elementary school that Bart and Lisa attend. The episode that I would like to evaluate is one, which consists of two parts.This episode’s main focus is the accidental discovery of oil, by the elementary school’s groundkeeper Wily.
He came upon it when burying a dead rat that was a classroom pet. At first the school administrators were going to use their newfound wealth to promote educational programs for their students. They held a “suggestions” seminar and carefully listened to some students who were trying to promote some of their ideas on how the schools money should be spent, including the Lisa Simpson. She wanted to have jazz lessons implemented. This episodes main educational goal was to promote the idea of children expanding their knowledge.
It actually seemed as though the television program was highly in favor of teaching viewers the value of a good education. I believe that the makers of the program were not trying to target an audience of children under twelve years of age, but viewers attending high school as well. The episodes first part was clearly devoted to promoting the fact that schools should utilize “extra” money to start new types of courses, that should take into consideration a students opinion in order for these new types programs to go over well with those attending the school in question.However, this positive aspect of the episode quickly disappeared and introduced such negative concepts as greed, aggression and hate. Mr. Burns, the chemical plant owner, caused this. He found a devious way of connecting a mile long tube from his new plant called “Slant drilling” to the elementary school.
This tube was placed acute angle, which allowed him to steal the schools newly found wealth. At this point, I believe that the episode held the audience’s attention by allowing viewers to imagine what other evil things Burns would think of. After stealing the elementary schools “black gold”, he then proceeded to destroy the old folk’s home, where Grandpa Simpson was residing, by allowing it to cave in partly due to the oil drilling. Slowly but surely, Burns’ greed for money began affecting every aspect of the community; this spawned anger in everyone, young and old.
“I’d like to settle his hash too!” Are the words that came out of Lisa Simpson’s mouth, a girl attending the third grade. The level of violence and anger escalates very rapidly. Especially when Bart’s dog was struck by a piece of metal when another part of the town was being destroyed due to another oil well springing out from under the earth. Later, when his grandfather came over to stay with the family, he was showing his grandson Bart an old gun, which Marge promptly took away, at the same time mentioning where she was going to hide it.Basically this two part episode recounted Burns’ taking over of all the facilities, like educational institutions, care facilities, water consumption, and finally electricity. The money that Burns was collecting by drilling allowed him to take control of the town.
He even went so far as to invent a giant disk that would block out the sun’s power, therefore forcing the town’s people to use an insane amount of power. This was the last event that enraged every individual in Springfield. The outcome of the episode? At a town meeting held by mayor Quimby, Mr. Burns strolled in and presented everyone with his new sun-blocking device. After prancing out of the town hall, he was mysteriously shot by an unknown culprit.
The second part of this episode, rather than focus on logical cooperative ways of dealing with problems, maintained the audience’s attention by giving a voice to the grievances of everyday people. Rather than teach anger management, it promoted the use of force and violence as a quick and efficient way to solve specific problems. What is this teaching our children? According to social learning theorists, a great deal of our attitudes towards certain issues are learned through observing others, even characters in television programs (Sdorow, 619-620). This episode may not be brainwashing viewers into committing certain acts, but the persuasion that it contains is present, especially since the source is something with which the viewers have in common (Sdorow, 620-621).
Another key point concerning the effect of this episode upon viewers is the actual audience in question. It has been proven that people of higher intelligence are more likely to be influenced by sources with rational arguments. Consequently, people of lower intelligence, in this case children under the age of sixteen, are more than likely to be influenced by sources and messages devoid of rationality and common sense (Sdorow, 622). This clearly demonstrates the fact that although appealing to a wide range of ages, this episode will have more of an impact on younger viewers. Precisely because they cannot view the show subjectively and do not have the intellectual experience to think of another way in which the problems could have been handled. I truly believe that this program should continuously implement mature ideas into its episodes, therefore allowing young viewers to broaden their span of knowledge, while at the same time promoting non-violence.
I know this sounds superficial but psychologists actually believe that this can progressively decrease the amount of violence within our society. It has actually been proven that once violence is allowed to become a part of one’s life, their behavior drastically changes, which in effect allows their level of distress to become reduced (Sdorow, 624). The characters in the aforementioned program all seemed to want to justify violence; this was coined deindiviluation by psychologists. The group members become less aware of their individual behavior and even less concerned about social evaluation (Sdorow, 645).
This episode, in my opinion, can be integrated into psychology as well as sociology courses. It is a great example of how people forget about the basic good of humanity when agitated and backed by others who share the same opinion. ON an elementary school level, teachers can have students act out better solutions among schoolmates.
There can be a cast of Simpson’s characters being played by elementary school children, and an actual play can be shown, entitled “The Remaking of Part 2”. (The “real” ending to the Simpson’s episode? The shooter ended up being Bart and Lisa’s baby sister, Maggie. Maybe In the “remaking” they should have her sucking on a lollypop, and not pointing a gun.) BIBLIOGRAPHYSdorow, Lester M. Psychology. 3rd ed.Madison: Brown and Benchmark, 1995