To countdown to the New Year, I wanted to highlight a really interesting document I just discovered: a list of complaints filed with the FCC against “The Simpsons” from 2003-2007 FOIA’d by GovernmentAttic.org. Apparently there were so many the FCC charged them extra for copying fees. Props to Timothy Sexton for blogging about them.
It is hosted here and really worth checking out if you want to see what our cultural gatekeepers navigate all day, or you have a sense of humor, or if you know how unusual it is for people to lodge a complaint.
What’s ironic about it is that criticism of American media (and specifically television) is one of the most wonderful things about “The Simpsons”, which takes a pretty unflinching media-justice stance on everything from product placement to the personalities and proclivities of its own network (FOX). One episode even shows Marge organizing a protest to reduce cartoon violence on the Itchy & Scratchy Show, which Bart and Lisa then refuse to watch.
Harry Shearer, who voices Flanders, Mr. Burns, and half the other characters on the show, is a media critic in his own right, detailing on his column on Huffpo the inaccuracies in media coverage of Hurricane Katrina and the effects in his hometown of New Orleans, a mini-jihad against NPR censors, and other interesting stuff.
The complaints are liberal and conservative both – in other words, what all satirists dream of achieving. “The Simpsons” has been on the air twenty-two years now, and it did not stay there by being anything less than hilariously frank about America and Americans. (For more on how the FCC deals with content issues and the hundreds of thousands of complaints they get a year, hop on over to the “Obscenity/Indecency/Profanity Homepage.”)
“You can’t make up anything anymore,” wrote Art Buchwald. “The world itself is satire. All you are doing is recording it.”
CIMS Report FOIA: The Simpsons
Problem ID: PROBLEMOI096190 Consumer’s Name .••;…..
Status: .Closed Phone Number (000) 000 – 0000
Submission Method: Email
Submitted Time 2/8/2005 4:14: 10PM
I want to complain about the episode of The Simpsons that aired directly after the Superbowl on Fox. The episode was depicting the story of Cain & Able. It was extremely goory & disgusting and it clearly showed someone being stabbed with blood squirting out & blood dripping from the knife that was used. This show was totally in poor taste, especially when there is a high possibility of children still being around the tv.
Happy New Year 2011!