There is one factor that defines the childhood of any person under the age of 30: Were you allowed to watch The Simpsons?
Although it is thought that our Springfield associates aided our ever-so-present addiction to screens and fast food, and provoked a deep fear of clowns, the Simpsons has been much more insightful than one may care to admit.
As we look back on the years that were, it is interesting to examine the forms of our culture that have shaped and molded who we are as a society.
Now, I’m not saying that we can link all of our issues back to Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie et al, but the absurdity displayed in satirical media such as the Simpsons may have informed our willingness to accept whatever has been thrown at us.
And look at what we have dealt with:
- The UK leaving, or at least trying to leave, the European Union.
- A reality TV host is the President of the USA.
- Young couples are opting to own dogs instead of having children.
- The leader of the biggest political and environmental movement of this decade is a 17-year-old Swedish girl.
Dr Nicholas Carah and Eric Louw are researchers into the impact of media on society. In their book Media and Society, they explore the notion of media shaping how we understand the world.
‘Media are social processes of circulating meaning,’ Media and Society reads.
‘This process matters because it shapes how we understand the world and our relationships with others.
‘How we understand the world organises how we act in it.’
Thanks to such influences, we only see aspects of our reality as ‘normal’ because we have become so enthralled by the influences of fictional media, which have imbued us with the notion that anything is possible nowadays.
The blatant absurdism showcased in media such as The Simpsons may have helped to soften the blow when we were faced with extremely random and unexpected problems.
When abortion bans swept across the USA in May this year, it truly felt like the control of women’s bodies, of the kind seen in The Handmaid’s Tale was coming to fruition.
When Australia’s treasurer – now prime minister – brought a lump of coal into parliament question time, amidst a climate crisis, we nodded our heads and displayed little disarray for this absurd act of symbolism.
And when an episode of The Simpsons aired in 2000 portraying the president of the USA as none other than Donald Trump, we laughed at the audacity. Now, they are living in that reality.
The point is, the media content we consume influences how we perceive, and act in, the world.
Maybe that’s why I see everything in a tinge of yellow.