Wednesday, March 25, 2009

From The Horse's Mouth

Just read a very enlightening interview with Simpsons creator Matt Groening over at The A.V. Club, whose weekly review of Fox's "animation domination" block of Simpsons, King Of The Hill, Family Guy, and American Dad frequently consists of anti-Simpsons dreck, stuff like "it's not been good since season ten!" or "this plot element was recycled from this, this, and this episode!" or "the episode was too much plot and character development, why can't it just be jokes?"

One of the great pieces of wisdom I've heard from an unnamed professor is that there are bands out there we just loved when we were, say, 16. But now, at, say, age 22 we hear it again and wonder aloud what the big deal was; it's our own personal nostalgia that we associate with it. One major act that has endured this re-evaluation was the Finnish group HIM. It's good...but nothing Earth-shattering. Same with all that 80's music I was digging when I spent my nights playing GTA: Vice City in 10th grade. It happens. You evolve, your tastes and expectations change - and whatever connection you have to it is more along the lines of where you are taken mentally when you re-visit it.

With that in mind, read this passage of the interview:
"MG: Let’s see, how do I want to put this… The criticism of the show, that it’s not as good as the show you remember when you were 9 years old, is probably true, but then no show is as good as the one you thought was probably the greatest when you were 9 years old. It’s the nature of comparing something to the thing you loved the most at the time. If the show had been cancelled after five seasons, it would be forgotten.

AVC: Really? The “cut down in its prime” legacy always builds things up—look at Futurama.

MG: Well, let me approach it from a different direction. Getting back to the idea about humor, I was generalizing about humor and anxiety and hostility, but the fact is, styles in humor do change. Humor does depend on surprise, and the things that people remember as the funniest things in the world, you look at later and you go, “What? What was that all about?” I mean, I love Laurel and Hardy, but I show Laurel and Hardy movies to people, to friends, and they think they’re too slow. The pacing is something they’re just not used to. They’ve had it drilled into their minds that everything has to be very cutty and quick and gross. So the relatively elegant and subtle Laurel and Hardy movies—which I can’t believe I’m even saying “elegant” in relation to them, but compared to crass comedy these days, they are—I think they’re great. The style has changed, and I certainly don’t think that people who can’t appreciate the brilliance of Laurel and Hardy are wrong. It’s just different style.

If The Simpsons came on now, having never been seen before, with those original episodes, I don’t think anyone would give them a second look, because they’re so crude and primitive in their execution. But like I said, styles change, and all I ask of critics—of online critics of the show that say “Oh, it hasn’t been good since season X”—is that, in the opinion of people who work on the show, that’s simply not true. I’m not saying that every episode is better than the previous, but I’m saying that to completely out-of-hand condemn a decade of the show is a very easy position to take, and the fact is, the show has done absolutely brilliant stuff consistently throughout its history. Like I said, I’m not defending every single joke in every single episode, but if we didn’t like what we were doing, we wouldn’t keep doing it."
[Italics mine]

So, to all the too-cool for new Simpsons episodes who can quote every episode that came out when they were in middle school, I give you this:

The creator of the show has said what I've been thinking since I first heard people bitching about the show's lack of relevance. I mainly heard this from Family Guy viewers. They're all about 16 years of age, or at least mentally.

To you, I say consider yourself righteously owned.

Those of you who still dig The Simpsons like Shelley and myself: you have every right to be smug about this one. Plus, Mr. Groening is a Beefheart fan. And you all know I love having any excuse to post Beefheart on here.

The frequency of these postings should indicate that my free time has, well, been freed up significantly since my project is 97% done and the grad school apps are all finito.

It's good to be back. Hope you agree. If not, it's a big Internet. You can leave. I'll be here.


1 comment:

Shelley said...

It's about time you post something. Geez.

Captain Beefheart rules.

And for those who don't like your blog just tell them to