FOR THE WEEK OF JULY 30, 2007
Woo-hoo! The Simpsons play on a larger screen
Several newspapers comic strips present Simpsons-style social commentary and cultural relevance. Invite students to find or list examples and discuss how cartoonists share topical messages that add to the paper's range of "voices."
Awareness of current events helps viewers "get" some of The Simpsons' humor. Challenge pupils to think of other shows, movies or music albums that tie into issues reported in the newspaper.
Homer, Marge and their kids aren't the only source of memborable snippets that pop up in everyday life. Have class members talk about how news and feature coverage in the paper spreads elements of popular entertainment -- theme songs, catchphrases, fashion styles -- into the national culture.
Fans of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie -- and who isnt -- are catching a big screen version of characters who've made audiences laugh, think and repeat their wacky slang since 1989. The Simpsons Movie, brought to us by the brainiacs behind Fox's classic sitcom, opened last week and was the No. 1 ticket-seller over the weekend. "It doesn't try to be ruder or kinkier, just bigger and better"� than its TV version, says Time magazine.
The 18-year-old show behind the new PG-13 film is a genuine phenomenon. It's the longest-running American sitcom and animated TV series. Ever. It remains a ratings leader in its Sunday night half-hour. It's a billion-dollar business bonanza.
It's also a cultural touchstone that lampoons hypocrisy, greed, intolerance, pollution and TV itself while embracing diversity, family strength, faith, heroism and -- of course -- the value of laughter. Even a global business magazine, The Economist, admires the result. "The Simpsons Movie brings to the big screen all the qualities that have made the Simpson family superstars,"� its review says.
The family from Springfield has boldly gone where other animated characters never dared, including more than a few swipes at Fox and owner Rupert Murdoch. The series began four years before Beavis and Butt-Head on MTV and eight years before South Park on Comedy Central. But Homer and his family took a long time to jump from TV to theaters, following last decade's South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999) and Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996).
Creator says: "The show is celebrating the people who drive you crazy, and that's basically been it from the very beginning." -- Matt Groening
Influence on language: Sayings popularized by The Simpsons include "d'oh," "€œcowabunga," "eat my shorts, "ay, caramba!," "eeeexcelllent,"� the headline-starting phrase atop this page and "don't have a cow, man."�
The numbers: 400 episodes; 23 Emmy Awards; shown in nearly 100 countries; translated into four dozen languages. Season 19 starts Sept. 23.
Front Page Talking Points
is written by
Felix Grabowski and Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2013
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