Jeremy Zilar is the Content Strategist and Blog Specialist at The New York Times where he has overseen the launch of over 200+ blogs and real-time news publishing.
This weekend I, like so many other Americans, piled in to see The Simpsons Movie. I rarely get out to see a film in the theaters. I see probably 4-5 movies in a year! So you may be asking me why this movie? …I am asking myself the same thing.
One of the best qualities of The Simpsons over the years has been how they have used the limits of their form to create something that could only be done with the freedom that animation allows. Each episode packs so many jokes into a short 23.5 mins of our attention span (at least their older ones did). It’s this density and timing that keeps us tuned in.
So what happens when you take the typical Simpsons episode and drag it out over 1.5hrs? Well you end up with a watered down version of something that was much more funny 10 years ago. You also end up with a lot of space to fill. Here is where they went wrong.
Instead of filling that space with the funny details that we have come to expect, they chose to draw out each scene with your run-of-the-mill theatrical camera tricks and longer sequences. Throw in a few plugs for Fox TV, and a brief ‘…to be continued‘ spot dead in the middle of the movie that doubles as a joke and a perfect opportunity for Fox to run the movie next year as two 1hr long episodes filled with commercials, and you have your typical constructed, flat, hollywood movie experience. This is so far from where they started 17+ years ago.
Am I a fan?
Yeah, sure. I have watched plenty of episodes over the years, and it has been one of the more tolerable things to watch on television. I havent had a TV for the last 5 years, so it is not like I made a point to tune in, but yes, I enjoy the shows, and they are always on. In a lot of ways, I found their use of time to be really smart. However, this weekend I did get reminded of questions that I have thought before…
Is The Simpsons a commentary on American life? or does it just perpetuate the stereotypes it attempts to makes fun of? After 9+ years, I find The Simpsons doing more to reinforce and perpetuate the conservative beliefs they try to make fun of, than to offer any new perspective on our American ideology. This is the problem with most ironic humor. I feel it is getting a little old.