Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Most Happiest of Anniversaries, or Lisa, It's Your Birthday

Today marks the 20th anniversary since the Simpsons first aired on a fledgling, never-to-survive network called Fox.

It's almost impossible for me to summarize how big of an impact the Simpsons has had on my life; after all, I was 7 years old when it debuted and have been a super fan since day one. I literally do not remember life before the Simpsons.

And of course, I'm not the only one like this -- my entire generation can be defined through the Simpsons, from their character arcs, to their showdowns with Cosby and the Bush White House, to their irony-laden cynicism that has effectively taught my generation to never believe in anything ("Oh, it's just nonsense words -- you know, like rama lama ding dong, or give peace a chance.")

I don't think I have the time or space to explain what the Simpsons means to me and how it's effected my life, but I will take this angle: I once read an interview with Matt Groening in which the interviewer asked him why a television show (he already had a fairly successful daily comic strip, Life in Hell). Groening said it was because of the ubiquity of television. He wanted to make something that could reach out to the kids in the middle of nowhere, the kids who couldn't run down to the local alternative book store to read up on the latest underground works, because those don't exist in their town.

And this is really what the Simpsons was to me. While obviously a lot of people and ideas had an impact on the person I came to be, the Simpsons was really the first thing I can remember that consistently told me "Life is absurd. The people who control your life and run most every institution are idiots at best, and usually corrupt hypocrites. Just because they have power doesn't mean you should trust them, and in fact, probably means you shouldn't. Also, laughing at the failings of others is a sure fire way to make yourself feel better."

And I'd be willing to venture that is the most important lesson I've ever learned in life...

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