Social Implications of the Animated Sitcoms Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1312 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Film

Social Implications of the Animated Sitcoms

Cartoons have come a long way since Steamboat Willie, and animated sitcoms such as "The Jetsons" and "The Flintsones" rivaled some of the best offerings from traditional sitcoms during the 1960s and 1970s, and today the same trend is being seen with animated sitcoms such as South Park, Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill, American Dad and most especially, the long-running series (and everyone's favorite), The Simpsons. This paper explores the social implications of the animated sitcoms on modern society, including a discussion concerning the ideas of gender and race, and how these idea are communicated in animated productions. An analysis of the reasoning behind the writers choosing animation to communicate their ideas is followed by a discussion concerning how these medium is used to get these ideas across. Finally, a personal reflection about the perception of animated sitcoms in the past compared to today is followed by a summary of the research and important findings in the conclusion.

Review and Discussion

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During the 1990s and early 2000s, sitcoms such as Seinfeld (1989-1998), Frasier (1993-2004) and Friends (1994-2003) were among the most popular offerings on American television (Harrison, 2010). These productions were responsible for countless spinoffs that explored the changing perceptions of gender and race in the United States, most of which focused on the lives of aimless, childless, white middle-class professionals in flight from the normative family unit of traditional sitcom-land" (Harrison, 2010, p. 123). For many Americans, though, the "have-your-ever-noticed" styling of Seinfeld et al. were old hat and, apparently drawing on the success of "The Flintstones" and "The Jetsons" during the 1960s, television producers introduced a number of animated sitcoms that explored race, age and gender themes. In this regard, Harrison adds that, "Interestingly, where regional and working-class settings were abandoned by the [traditional] format, the terrain was reclaimed in the emergent trend of animated sitcoms such as Beavis and Butt-Head, The Simpsons, King of the Hill and South Park, all of which situated themselves in opposition to hip metropolitan life" (p. 123).

Term Paper on Social Implications of the Animated Sitcoms Assignment

Despite their growing popularity and reflection of what is topical and trendy in America, there remains a paucity of timely and relevant research concerning the cultural environment from which these productions are drawn. For example, Mills (2009) reports that, "Radicalism has been associated with animated sitcoms such as The Simpsons (Fox, 1989 -- ) and South Park (Comedy Central, 1997 -- ). Yet it's noticeable how the analyses of these series often use them as a starting-point for discussions on other topics, sidelining their status as sitcom" (p. 31). Indeed, the range of topics that are explored in animated sitcoms such as The Simpsons and King of the Hill involve real-world problems that many families face, as well an array of sometimes serious but frequently zany escapades that can only be presented in an animated format. In this regard, Mills points out that, "Indeed, considering the lack of writing on sitcom as a whole and the serious dearth of book-length analyses of specific programs, it could be seen as surprising that The Simpsons has volumes devoted to its relationship to philosophy, religion, science, subversion and radicalism, society and psychology" (p. 31). In fact, to date, just one book has been devoted to exploring the cultural effect of The Simpsons' on American society (Mills, 2009). This authority, at least, suggests that attributing intellectual and thoughtful content to productions such as The Simpsons, though, is disingenuous since these offerings are only intended to last, in the words of the late Troy McClure, "until they become unprofitable" (Mills, 2009). In other words, sometimes, perhaps most of the time, The Simpsons is just for laughs rather than an in-depth expose of American turpitude or lax values. As Mills notes, "It's as if the very fact of these series being animated overrides the ways in which they rely on sitcom; in doing so, such analysis reiterates the idea… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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