Don’t let your children grow up to be journalists

The international media mafia came out in force against Venezuela for prohibiting the airing of The Simpsons during hours when children are likely to watch it. It’s worth mentioning that a digital video recorder, which allows one to pick and choose one’s programs and watch them at will is out of reach for the vast majority of the planet’s television viewers, so free over-the-air programming still matters. Machetera guesses that the press, like the Venezuelan channel Televen, is completely aware of this, but chose to be completely cynical about it because the headline was too good to pass up.

The Simpsons is not a Cartoon Series for Children

(Behind the controversy surrounding its withdrawal from the children’s television hour in Venezuela.)

Luigino Bracci – Yvke Mundial – Translation: Machetera

Conatel initiated proceedings against Televen for broadcasting the series at 11 in the morning. International media launched a terrorist media campaign against Venezuela, stating that Hugo Chávez had censored The Simpsons. However, other countries have taken similar action against the series, that despite being an animated cartoon, is for adults. See why:

On April 2, the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel), initiated an administrative proceeding to sanction the private television channel Televen, for broadcasting the North American animated television series The Simpsons. The measure resulted in certain media repercussions, among them the international media accusation that “the Venezuelan government had prohibited The Simpsons.”

Conatel, according to its communique, announced that it had taken action in response to viewer complaints, in compliance with the Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television, which provides that during hours when children may be viewing, programs which may contain violence, sexual scenes or foul language may not be broadcast on over-the-air signals, as they “infringe against the integral development of children and adolescents, in conformity with Article 7” of the Law.

Televen complied with the action, and in its place began to broadcast Baywatch. Rosaura Romero, a journalist in the station’s office of Corporate Communications, confirmed to the BBC’s website that the prior Wednesday, Conatel informed the station that it could not broadcast The Simpsons in this timeslot. The series which had been broadcast over a year and a half, went off the air on April 3 and the administrative process which will last ten days was begun, after which it will be known if the station will receive any kind of sanction. According to the journalist, although it is confirmed that the series will not return at this hour, it is still unknown if it will return at an hour appropriate for adult viewing or supervision.

A measure that has been taken normally in many other countries has caused a wave of headlines against Venezuela in foreign media. Among them:

  • “Chávez censored The Simpsons” (La Cuarta, Chile)
  • “Venezuela vetos The Simpsons” (Reuters)
  • The Simpsons, Prohibited for Children in Venezuela” (El País, Spain)
  • “Chávez Strangles The Simpsons” (PR Noticias)
  • “Pamela yes, Homer no” (Público, Spain)
  • “Venezuela Prohibits The Simpsons Series” (Terra, Europa Press)
  • “Hugo Chávez on the Attack Against Animated Cartoons” (Infobae)

The news, however, has barely affected the series’ fans in Venezuela, accustomed – as are most Latin Americans – to seeing the most recent episodes in the series on the Fox cable channel. Fox doesn’t broadcast The Simpsons during the daytime, but at night.

An Animated Series for Adults

The Simpsons, while being very hip and critical of U.S. government and society, is a series for adults and can only be totally absorbed by people whose personality is already defined.

The series, created by Matt Groening, was released in December 1989 and launched a genre of adult animation which has been incorporated into other cartoons such as South Park, Family Guy, American Dad, Happy Tree Friends, Ren & Stimpy and several others that despite being animated cartoons, have specific references for older viewers. The Simpsons has been on the air for 19 years, with more than 400 episodes. It has criticized not only the North American government and the war in Iraq but also the Republican party, the Fox News Network (something which caused a serious confrontation between Groening and Rupert Murdoch, Fox’s owner) and the media in general.

Frequently Censored in the United States

An editor at Noticias24.com, usually opposed to the Hugo Chávez government has spoken out against the strange media attack against Venezuela. She explains that “in this document from the Federal Communications Commission” (FCC – Conatel’s U.S. equivalent) “there are 60 pages filled with complaints against The Simpsons by North American television viewers. Some of them are quite reasonable: ‘a commercial for The Simpsons showed a scene with a homosexual encounter with an alien,’ ‘Homer compared Christians with porn stars,’ ‘the brothers Cain and Abel were depicted killing each other with knives,’ ‘in one episode army recruits had a sign that said: Welcome Suicidal Teenagers.'”

Why it Shouldn’t be Broadcast During Children’s Hours

The writer at Noticias24.com, by way of explaining why The Simpsons shouldn’t be broadcast during all viewing hours compiled a list of controversial subjects broadcast daily in the series.

A clarification is necessary, however: The Simpsons also has human values, important lessons, criticisms of society and calls for reflection, all of which have increased its fan base over the years. But this shouldn’t obscure the fact that it is not a series appropriate for children.

Is The Simpsons a children’s cartoon? Not at all; if that were the case, adults wouldn’t be the series’ biggest fans. The truth is that in The Simpsons, content can frequently be seen that – if parents knew – they would consider inappropriate for their own children. For example:

  • Bart drops his pants and shows his behind, to challenge authority (with some frequency).
  • Marge’s sisters, Patty and Selma, are chain-smoking spinsters (it is against the law to show people smoking in children’s programs).
  • Selma’s ex-husband, Sideshow Bob, tried to kill her by leaving the gas on in order to blow up the house when she lit her cigarette. In season 16, her sister Patty came out as a lesbian.
  • Bart’s teacher, Edna Crabapple, locked herself in a closet with the principal, Seymour Skinner; they are seen together arguing heatedly, while she protests his living with his mother.
  • The cartoon watched by Lisa and Bart, Tommy and Daly, is extremely violent: the rat Daly is forever killing Tomy with bombs, electric saws, guns, knives, etc. (while blood is spurting everywhere).
  • The yokel couple that lives on the outskirts of Springfield, Cleto and Brandine, has at least 15 children, none of whom go to school, while at the same time it is apparent that Cleto and Brandine, in addition to being married to one another are siblings and cousins.
  • The Simpsons also shows the drunkenness and burping of Barney at Moe’s bar, and it’s not unusual to see Homer driving drunk (it is against the law to show alcohol consumption in children’s programs).
  • In one episode, Homer and Ned Flanders marry strippers in Las Vegas even though they are both already married; in another, Marge went to the apartment of a man she met at Bowlarama, in order to make a cuckold of Homer for re-gifting her a bowling ball that was meant for him.
  • The Simpsons shows scenes as strong as that of the dream of Waylon Smithers, the obviously gay owner of the nuclear plant, in which he flies through the window of Mr. Burns’ house and lands on his bed. This same scene was censored in the U.S. and the animators had to re-draw it in order to eliminate certain “things” that were too suggestive.

We could spend hours making a list of inappropriate scenes, were we to search through the more than 400 episodes of The Simpsons.

Although God is usually represented as a very large, kind, bearded man, The Simpsons doesn’t spare him either. Such as when Ned Flanders loses everything in a tornado that only hits his house, and looting that only affects his business. Desperate, Ned refers to the “Good Book” to find comfort, and cuts his finger on the Bible’s golden-edged pages.

The Simpsons is an intentionally controversial series that uses extreme stereotypes to mock American society, religions, politics and the state. The government is usually portrayed as incompetent and corrupt (the chief of police never manages to capture anyone, and the mayor, “Diamond Joe” takes money “under the table” from the mafia kingpin and is discovered with his lover in a motel) and religious leaders (such as Reverend Lovejoy) as manipulative individuals completely disinterested in the faithful.

However loyal we may be to The Simpsons, it’s impossible to deny that it is not a children’s series such as Bob the Builder, Power Rangers or Barney. A press that is indignant because Lisa and Bart have been “censored by a government” proves that it doesn’t understand what’s going on in the series. Would any of these journalists care to explain to their six-year-old son the meaning of incest?

The Simpsons was also broadcast in the ’90’s by the private network Venevision, which also had to take it off the air because of viewer criticism. The same thing happened with RCTV when it broadcast various chapters of the South Park and Ren & Stimpy series during children’s viewing hours.

One response to “Don’t let your children grow up to be journalists

  1. There has never been a real “confrontation” between Rupert Murdoch and Matt Groening
    over the Simpsons’ mockery of Fox News, though Groening has joked about it in interviews. I doubt Murdoch cares very much,
    because Fox “News” and shows like the Simpsons and Family Guy are designed for
    very different audiences that don’t overlap much. Also, even if Fox “News” were on the
    air for a thousand years, it wouldn’t generate as
    much profit for Murdoch as the Simpsons has.
    Murdoch is all about profit, not ideology.

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