The Bizarre Modern Reality of The Simpsons
After thirty seasons, viewers and critics alike seem to agree that The Simpsons has lost a lot of its luster. But even though viewership has been in a steady decline for years, the show keeps getting renewed. In this video essay, Super Eyepatch Wolf offers a possible explanation for that conundrum. John Walsh has lamented the slow slide to irrelevance of the iconic animated sitcom before, but this effort goes beyond the gloom-and-doom thinking and passionately defends the continued cultural importance of the series. To do so, his video essay commendably broadens its scope beyond the small screen of television to include many other (audio-) visual arts.
It starts off with a cynical explanation for The Simpsons’ eternal renewals (the monetary gains to be made from spin-offs such as its popular mobile games). But Walsh then segues to the omnipresent Simpsons memes, and uses those user-generated visuals as a gateway into a true treasure trove of fan art. He offers up a simply stunning series of fan-made takes on the animated family: from hundreds of remakes of a particular scene (remakes that are stylistically all over the place) over anime versions to music videos that repurpose the show’s footage to create glum and gloomy alternate Springfields.
The vast and varied array of examples that Walsh digs up here is impressing. These weird, wacky and wonderful reimaginings of the yellow nuclear family are testament to the thriving cultural impact these characters still have. Super Eyepatch Wolf uses this insight to make an impassioned plea for the property: not longer the show itself, but the vibrant community of fans generating their own content around it is what keeps The Simpsons alive and relevant. The ingenuity, the provocation, and the subversiveness that we used to associate with the show have migrated to its fan base and have taken root there in myriad wondrous ways.