This paper is concerned with Family values in America, particulary the vision that The Simpsons TV Show from Matt Groening spreads. I will be focusing on the fact that The Simpsons advocate the Nuclear Family and I’ll give a definition of this term. Indeed, the question of what is an american family has always been a big issue. Magazines, radio, advertising, and evenpoliticians have always took this topis as an important one. As a good example, in a speech given at the annual convention of the National Religious Broadcasters in 1992, George Bush, Sr. infamously stated that: “We’re going to keep trying to strengthen the American family to make the American family a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons.” But The Simpsons have some values that havea real importance in american society. To prove it, I’ll be focusing on some of The Simpsons‘ episodes and some academic writing: one from Stephanie Coontz, „Leave It to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet,” one essay from Cantor, „Atomistic Politics and the Nuclear Family,”and one essay from Pollitt, “Why I Hate Family Values.”
Central to my analysis is the Simpson family as representative of thecontemporary American family. They are a “traditional nuclear family”, but there are some dysfunctions and contradictions. However, the love they have for each other make them a “good” family in a way, a “good” model for Americans, even if some part of the show are a big caricature of a normal American family.
First, I’ll give Coontz’s vision of traditional nuclear family, and I’ll give a precisedefinition of the nuclear family according to today’s criteria, and show how the Simpsons don’t really fit in the picture because of Homer. But even if Homer is not fitting in the picture, the Simpsons as a nuclear family work thanks to love. After focusing on the Simpson family, I’ll prove that the Show is advocating the two-parent families, and not the mono-parental families. And because of thisposition, we can say that The Simpsons is hardly working to make people stay together when they have some couple problems. After this point, I’ll deal with the problem of the stressed home-keeper mother that was a big issue in the 1950’s, and how The Simpsons point out the problem that still exists, even if it’s not such a big phenomenon as before. Finally, I’ll state that the TV Show advocates“traditional values” as Mom as a housekeeper, two parents families, etc…
II. The Simpson family and traditional family values:
Coontz states: “Our most powerful visions of traditional families derive from images that are still delivered to our homes in countless reruns of 1950s television sit-coms.” He also says that a family in those television sit-coms consists of “a breadwinner father, afull-time homemaker mother, and dependants children.” We can see that the Simpsons, that began the 17th of December 1989, are close to these criteria. We have Homer, the father (even if he’s an idiot and he’s selfish, he earns money for his family), Marge that is a real homemaker mother, and the two and a half children: Bart (the bad teenager), Lisa (the good girl), and little Maggie. In TheSimpsons, we have a real nuclear family, even if it’s a caricature.
But what is a real nuclear family, according to today’s criteria? According to the website oregonstate.edu/instruct/anth370/gloss.html, it’s “a woman and/or husband and dependent children.” But The Simpsons, in a certain way, are not a “traditional nuclear family.” Even if it offers “one of the most important images of the familyin contemporary American culture, […] it portrays the average American family” (Cantor.) Indeed, even if Marge and the children are close to the reality concerning the way they are acting, Homer is the only weak point. The father should be the one who is a model for is family, as for example in Father Knows Best. But in fact, Homer is a really bad father and husband as he is selfish and makes...
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