Posted on: April 21, 2021 Posted by: Anna Lee Comments: 0

Morrissey performs on the Firefly Music Competition in 2015. (Mark Makela/Reuters)

The once-great present is now Exhibit A within the decline of comedy, cartoons, and music tradition.

Why isn’t The Simpsons humorous anymore? That query is provoked by this week’s Simpsons episode, “Panic on the Streets of Springfield,” which made it clear that the best-paid wits in showbiz have gone past mere political partisanship into an influence train: unabashed, shameless meanness and character assassination.

The reply to the query is larger than the sequence itself and extra necessary than every routine announcement of its company sensitivity during which millionaire forged members change their participation (ceasing to play roles that don’t match their ethnicity) merely to appease social style.

Proper on the heels of the extraordinary, compassionate movie Shoplifters of the World, in regards to the cultural affect of the British pop group the Smiths, comes this “Panic on the Streets of Springfield” episode (titled after the 1986 track “Panic” by the Smiths) that besmirches lyricist-singer Morrissey. The foul, bitter premise makes an attempt to revise cultural historical past in an wrong way from the film Shoplifters.

Lisa Simpson, the present’s everlasting eight-year-old, belatedly discovers a band referred to as the Snuffs and its chief named Quilloughby. She errors his iconoclasm for her personal lonely superiority and makes him her imaginary pal, however she quickly finds him unkind, unacceptable, and politically incorrect. This caricature (that includes Morrissey’s massive, sprung-coif coiffure and effete mannerisms) posits that the Smiths’ Eighties music — timeless herald of an age — was the work of an insensitive, inhumane bigot. Becoming a member of social-media-mob complaints that led BMG information to drop Morrissey’s recording contract final yr, the episode is a cartoon model of cancel tradition.

It’s apparent that The Simpsons’ makers meant to be defamatory (scriptwriter Tim Lengthy disingenuously claimed that Quilloughby is a composite of Ian Curtis and Robert Smith). The Shoplifters film proved that the Smiths reached deeper locations than The Simpsons. However that little eco-terrorist vegan Lisa was at all times the present’s sponsored character, a stunt that liberal viewers loved and conservative viewers tolerated. (Homer was its Archie Bunker.) Are the Simpsons coloured yellow as a result of the present is cowardly, its one-time edginess only a relic from earlier than the times of PC fascism?

When The Simpsons stirred animated tv 32 years in the past, with cartoonist Matt Groening’s eccentric alternative-press satire of the American-family archetype and sitcom vet James L. Brooks’s skilled finesse, it was the acme of contemporary wit. Now, it’s been outwitted by its evil twin, Seth McFarland’s Household Man (which commonly bashes well-known conservatives). It’s simply one other instance of contemporary decadence. The present’s creators have given up being humorous and opted as an alternative to scold and censure. It’s the identical peculiarly decayed savvy and perverted social notion that ruined late-night tv comedy. The Simpsons crew is one other Hollywood outfit intent on dividing America and the pop viewers.

This insult goes to the center of latest cultural betrayal. The Smiths’ “Panic” is an evergreen track in regards to the results of the political tyranny — it’s strikingly related at present. However The Simpsons avoids noting the track’s prescience and chooses low-cost mockery. In contrast to previous Simpsons movie star parodies (Barbra Streisand, the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith), this pointedly political offense exposes at present’s craven showbiz practices. Not surprisingly, Quilloughby was voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, an actor who satirically received fame and an Oscar nomination (for enjoying Alan Turing in The Imitation Recreation) by means of Harvey Weinstein’s affect.

The Simpsons slams Morrissey by ridiculing and misrepresenting his animal-rights stance and repeating media calumny that accuses him of racism. Lisa comes out and says it: “You’re an enormous racist!” Lisa’s fractured psyche compels her have to assault others. When the empowered Left eats itself, no hypocrisy is out of bounds. One cultural establishment viciously assaults one other. As a substitute of educating the advanced ethical classes in Morrissey’s artwork, The Simpsons continues its follow of PC superiority. (One Simpsons actor apologized to the nation of India for the portrayal of the Apu character, but the present’s producers have by no means apologized for the Reverend Lovejoy and Ned Flanders characters that trash Christianity.)

Don’t let press chuckling over this episode get in the way in which of recognizing its offense. Not one of the Web writers are knowledgeable sufficient to say that Morrissey has had a protracted battle with the media, not less than because the right-on 1991 track “Journalists Who Lie.” Morrissey received pop-star standing — and enemies — for romanticizing unconventional, misunderstood passions. His songs for the Smiths had been trailblazing inspiration for the acceptance of social views and emotional sensitivity that cool hipster rock had forbidden.

Morrissey’s response to all this has been characteristically pithy: “In a world obsessive about Hate Legal guidelines, there are none that defend me — free speech not exists.” Now The Simpsons makes an attempt to cancel him because it patronizes its viewers. By perpetuating the shallowest notion of the Smiths legacy, the episode is designed to maintain audiences dumb and smug, like Leninist Lisa herself. How fallacious can a once-great present be?

Armond White, a tradition critic, writes about films for Nationwide Evaluation and is the creator of New Place: The Prince Chronicles. His new e book, Make Spielberg Nice Once more: The Steven Spielberg Chronicles, is accessible at Amazon.

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