Cartoons

Many of us can remember our favorite cartoon characters or cartoons when we were young. It mostly depends on the era you grew up in, what characters  and/or cartoons were our favorite.  Regardless of the media method use delivering any particular cartoon, our exposure to cartoons have always been part of our culture.  The main advantage cartoons have, compared to the news net work, is that cartoons provides a visual image that can stick with us just by the attraction of its presentation.  Since its  ‘illustrated-visual-art-form’ quality accompanied by either written or spoken ideas, cartoons can approach society’s subject matters, some that might be considered bad-taste or taboo in modern society, to make its ‘symbolic’ idea clear.  One good example of a cartoon exposing the day-to-day life issues is the animated TV series “The Simpsons”, 1991 episode, “Mr. Lisa Goes To Washington”. (Lester, P.M., pg 254-257, 2011) (wtso.net, 2012)

The satiric tone that surrounds the Simpsons family provides a humorous and sometimes insightful look of life’s issues. The fabulous creator of “The Simpsons” is Matt Groening.   He developed the  cartoon characters some viewers may find likable or not-so-likable.  Groening, along with other directors and writers such as director Wes Archer and writer George Meyer, combined the family characters with relationships with other various  characters and produce a satire story line involving life’s issues including: importance of the nucleus family, parenting, bullying, sense of community, educational system, environmental, media bias, sexuality, politics, religion and  much more. (Lester, P.M., pg 225-226. 228-229, 2011)(wtso.net, 2012)

The nucleus of the animated sit-com is a dysfunctional Simpson family. Homer, is the father who loves his beer and is somewhat inept.  Another fine description of Homer is a person that ‘would sell his soul to the devil for one doughnut’.    Marge is Homer’s wife and is happy to stay home and keep Homer and their three children Bart, Lisa, and Maggie on the ‘straight and narrow’.  Bart is a 10 y. o. rebellious- prankster type child.  Lisa is an 8 y. o. intellectual that plays the saxophone.  Maggie is the youngest, who quietly observes and sucks on her pacifier.  Above all, the family sticks together and supports each other in their community of Springfield. (wikia, 2012)(wtso.net, 2012)

The episode “Mr. Lisa Goes To Washington” is an parody of the great 1939 movie “Mr. Smith Washington” (IMDB: 8.4) starring Jimmy Stewart.  The episode satires government corruption, while at the same time challenges Lisa’s patriotic integrity and her own principles.  The episode also infuses sexual innuendos in Homer’s and Marge’s humorous dialect as well as making little stabs on education, politicians, voting and the environment. (wtso.net, 2012)

The plot starts out with Homer taking a special interest in reading a ‘free’ copy of “Reading Digest” that was sent to the Simpson’s home.  The irony here is Homer never reads and thinks reading is stupid. After few days of reading the magazine from cover to cover, he takes note  of “Win a trip to Washington, D.C.”  “All expenses paid.” “VIP tour”; however, becomes it is just for kids, he throws the magazine into a waste basket.  At which point, Lisa states she is interested and decides to enter the 300 hundred word essay contest for “Patriots of Tomorrow”. (wtso.net, 2012)

With the support of her mother, Marge, Lisa then makes a bicycle trip to Springfield’s National Forest to obtain further inspiration.  While sitting under tree, Lisa looks at the beautiful landscape and says “OK America, Inspire me!”  While Lisa waits to be feel inspired, a bald eagle lands on a branch above her gives her the inspiration she needs to finish writing her essay which she titles “The Roots of Democracy”.  Lisa’s essay compares the birth and growth of America with Mother Nature nurturing the growth of the forest.   Lisa wins the regional finals and was approved for entry in the national finals of Washington, D.C. only after one contest judge came to the conclusion after conversing with Homer  that he did not have the ‘intellect’ to write such a wonderful essay for Lisa. (wtso.net, 2012)

While Homer and Bart are abusing and taking advantage of the ‘all-free-expense-paid trip in Washington, D.C., Lisa excitedly visits Winifred Beecher Howe monument.  Accordingly to Lisa, Winifred Howe was a woman rights activist that led the Floor Mop Rebellion in 1910 and appeared on a unpopular 75 cent piece. The plaque on the monument states “I will iron your sheets when you iron out the inequities in your labor laws”.  At the moment she leaves the Howe’s monument, she witnesses a corrupt congressman taking a bride from a Springfield lumber representative, who wants to demolish Springfield Forest for lumber.  Upset and feeling disillusioned over the government official’s dishonesty, Lisa rips her essay “The Roots of Democracy” to shreds. (wtso.net, 2012)

Angered and bewildered, she visits Lincolns Memorial and appeals to ‘Honest Abe’ to show her the way.  Not getting a return answer, she then visits Thomas Jefferson’s Memorial and tries to plea her problem to him.    Jefferson retorts “I know what your problem is, the Lincoln’s Memorial is too crowed” and that is only reason why she is there to see him. While Lisa walks away without an answer to her problem, Jefferson still wishes Lisa not to go because he is lonely and unimportant, for his only recognition was the Declaration of Independence and the Louisiana Purchase.  On the steps leading to  the capital building, Lisa visualizes the  congressmen in front of her, as ‘fat-cats’ and ‘pigs’ eating money out of troughs, while Uncle Sam pours more money into the troughs.  Disheartened from the  corruption witnessed earlier, she sits down at the capitol steps to write her new essay “Cesspool on the Potomac” where she reveals the names involved in the bribery. (wtso.net, 2012)

The finals start with a piano player singing “The Deficit Rag”.  When Lisa is announced to read her essay, she informs the announcer that she would like to read her revised version of her essay which states the following: “The city of Washington was built on a stagnate swamp some 200 years ago and very little has change.  It stank then and it stinks now!” “It is the stanched of the very corruption that hangs in the air.”  “. . . and who did I see taking the bride was the honorable Bob Arnold!” “. . . I’m sure this will be one nation, under the dollar, with liberty and justice for another!”. (wtso.net, 2012)

Lisa’s essay caused commotion and stirs a hostile reaction among the judges and audience.  One competition judge notifies the other senators regarding Lisa’s speech; whereby, the congressman was eventually charged and arrested by the FBI.  Lisa did not win the competition due to the content of the essay, however, the winning contestant did acknowledge the courageous Lisa for her “ inflammatory rhetoric that reminded us of the price of freedom is eternal vigilance!”. (wtso.net, 2012)

Lisa’s faith in the government was restored again with the knowledge of the arrested congressman, whom eventually became a “born again Christian”.  Congress passed a bill that saved her beloved Springfield forest.  Above all, Lisa’s integrity and principle were preserved.  In the viewer’s ‘mind’s-eye’, this would make Lisa the real “Patriot of Tomorrow”.  (wtso.net, 2012)

 

References

Lester, P.M. (2011)  The Simpsons

(pp. 254-257), Visual communication, images with messages, 5th edition, Wadsworth Cengage,   printed in United States.

 

Lester, P.M. (2011) Chapter 7 – Graphic Design

(pp. 225-226), Visual communication, images with messages, 5th edition, Wadsworth Cengage,   printed in United States

 

Lester, P.M. (2011) Chapter 7 – Graphic Design

(pp. 227-228), Visual communication, images with messages, 5th edition, Wadsworth Cengage,   printed in United States

 

Anonymous.  (2012)  Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington (video)

        Received May 17, 2012 from wtso website

http://wtso.net/movie/173-The_Simpsons_302_Mr_Lisa_Goes_to_Washington.html

 

 

 

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