Wednesday, February 02, 2011
I hate you Lisa Simpson
There's something just so unforgivably obnoxious about a know it all. I'm sure we all know one, the person who's always knows best – who is always 100% certain when there's doubt; arrogant to the point of aggressive and who condemn and undermine anyone who should dare an opposing feeling. We've all met these people and I'm sure that, because your time far is too valuable to waste it in the company of these insufferable boresyou have long since left them to themselves and their drudgeries.
I myself seem to have at last rid myself of such types in my personal life; however I cannot seem to break the one intrinsic linkback to the worst possible example of this sort of person. I say ‘example’ as this person does not actually exist – aspects of them certainly do but the entity I am referring to is Lisa Simpson. Now, I know she’s a cartoon character and therefore it’s fairly futile to harbour any real feelings of contempt, however even with all this considered, I still really to hate her. Never has there been a more bombastic, sanctimonious and downright pretentious manifestation.
Its not that I don't understand the purpose of the character, I realise that she is supposed to the voice of sense and reason in what is effectively a depiction of modern American values; I just don't like it…at all. I also understand that I could easily avoid it, but I love the Simpsons and hate when people say:‘’you don’t have to watch it if she annoys you so much’’. I know I don’t have to watch it you utter cretin. I also don’t have to drink this cold tea, but despite the fact its not as good as it used to be its still fairly enjoyable…! I’ve been a fan of the Simpsons for most of my life; in fact I’m pretty certain that Bart and I are (chromatically) much the same age if you consider when the show began as a skit on the Tracy Ullman Show.
The Simpsons gets it so right in so many ways. People are fickle and often say that the new episodes lack the writing flair of the older episodes and that many characters have become parodies of themselves, but I adore it and enjoy the wry look it casts on the society it mirrors. But more and more frequently I am finding that any episode where Lisa is the main focus is going to frustrate me and eventually just piss me off.
Speaking of earlier episodes and, quite conversely, I didn’t actually mind the quiet, gifted ‘middle child’ of the first few seasons of the show. However since her ‘rebirth’ as a switched on liberal her behaviour is often puerile and frequently maliciouslyunprovoked; such as ruining Homer’s BBQ because (the equally bloated and pointless) Paul McCartney decides on her behalf that eating meat is wrong. Or when she selfishly dupes and misleads her family because she wants to see a museum exhibition, resulting in her father nearly losing his job. There’s also the time when she refuses to seek medical attention for Bart when he breaks his arm whilst in her care, or when she exploitsher tirelessly loving family for the purpose of making a ‘warts and all’ documentary on ‘American Life’ for the Canadian film festival. Or the time when she endangers her life (and the life of others) by living in a tree like swampy (which I still maintain was an act of lust rather than of altruism). Then there’s her condescending attitude to gay rights and marriages, her intolerance of Christianity, her cynicism towards authority, herprecociousness around adults and her obsession with her own academic superiority.But my isolating examples is as futile as my frustration as there is too many, but, it appears to me that her behaviour representsan appetite for selfishness and a disregard for both other people’s opinions and feelings.
More frustrating than her self-centred arrogance is her ambiguous political dogmaand inconsistent ethics and world view which are both contradictory and confusing. Passive on one hand yet vehemently aggressive on the other; adopting a Michael Moore like stance on Politics with regards Socio–economics and Foreign Policy affairs yetclaiming to be Buddhist and hippie on the other. A feminist who collects Barbie dolls, an Environmentalist who sells out, a pacifist whowilfully insists on attending a Military Academy. It’s this flaky attitude towards commitment which for me undermines the character’s relevance. She is portrayed to us frequently as a quiet, brooding, jazz-loving and independent however there are so many episodes where we see her try to ‘fit in’, but in doing so crumbles to peer pressure – whenshe takes up Ballet and starts to smoke for example. Or when she adopts a new personawhilst away at the beach with her family (and in doing so mocks her brother), becomes a white witch, when she pretends to know Alaska Nebraska (Hanna Montana) in order gain kudos amongst a new peer group. These are all examples of how she is weak willed and impressionable; happy to follow thezeitgeist but then (normally by the end of the episode) will haplessly disregard herself from any status quo claiming to be a nihilist and a loaner.
I have been known to have rants on this subject from time to time and friends and others have commented that her character is the mouthpiece of writer and creator, Matt Groening. This is quite likely, and over time I suppose Lisa has become the left wing voiceof a very popular show – which I suppose is better than Republican messages. What I do detest however is when people argue that she is the ‘straight man’. The Simpsons has a straight man in Marge. She is also the voice of reason, the good, the memorable and indeed shows values and ethics.
I admire the way that the Simpsons has, quite literally, killed off unpopular characters in the past. But now, I think the time is right for a sacrifice.
Posted by tiernan at 10:03 AM