Hugo Chavez vs. The Simpsons

Venezuela has banned “The Simpsons” as being too corrupting and replaced it with “Baywatch.” Isn’t “Baywatch” more corrupting than “The Simpsons”?

I wonder what Hugo Chavez has against “The Simpsons”? I would argue that satirical humor is intrinsically dangerous to an authoritarian state. Whereas hedonism functions as something like an opiate to the masses.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Bror Erickson

    Remember all the hoopla from teachers and Christian activists when the “Simpsons” came out? I do believe that the sarcasm in the show was lost on many, as is true of “South Park” also. and I do think that it is much more insidious to an authoritarian state like Venezuela, and what better way to placate the masses than to occupy them men with bouncing sillicone.

  • Bror Erickson

    Remember all the hoopla from teachers and Christian activists when the “Simpsons” came out? I do believe that the sarcasm in the show was lost on many, as is true of “South Park” also. and I do think that it is much more insidious to an authoritarian state like Venezuela, and what better way to placate the masses than to occupy them men with bouncing sillicone.

  • The Jones

    What’s funny is that despite a little crudity every once in a while, the Simpsons is actually a very conservative show. They go to church, the pray, they work through their family issues, and Homer and Marge actually love each other. While in a clearly over-the-top manner and many times the butt of many jokes, Ned Flanders is a strong evangelical Christian main character who is really a good guy and is an active witness to his neighbor, Homer!

    Of coarse, some silly things happen on the show, such as Homer getting marijuana for his “glaucoma,” the dirty capitalist businessman taking joy out of releasing the dogs on employees who come to complain of work conditions, and a President Arnold Schwarzenegger bringing action hero decisiveness to the executive office. But in the end, all these crazy disputes are worked out to what most of us would consider very favorable moral outcomes.

    The danger of the Simpsons is that it might actually make people like America. Baywatch? Opium for the masses.

  • The Jones

    What’s funny is that despite a little crudity every once in a while, the Simpsons is actually a very conservative show. They go to church, the pray, they work through their family issues, and Homer and Marge actually love each other. While in a clearly over-the-top manner and many times the butt of many jokes, Ned Flanders is a strong evangelical Christian main character who is really a good guy and is an active witness to his neighbor, Homer!

    Of coarse, some silly things happen on the show, such as Homer getting marijuana for his “glaucoma,” the dirty capitalist businessman taking joy out of releasing the dogs on employees who come to complain of work conditions, and a President Arnold Schwarzenegger bringing action hero decisiveness to the executive office. But in the end, all these crazy disputes are worked out to what most of us would consider very favorable moral outcomes.

    The danger of the Simpsons is that it might actually make people like America. Baywatch? Opium for the masses.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Now there is an intelligent comment…

    Bror, what do you mean was? There still is a lot of anti-Simpsons sentiment within Christian circles.

    I thought the Venezuelan ban is pretty funny, watch for an episode, blasting them for the ban. I do think you are on to something about satire being insidious, because rather than placating it raises questions and is frequently aimed at public officials and societal norms and quirks. Some how I do not picture a dictator enjoying jabs at them, always pictured them as egomaniacs.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    Now there is an intelligent comment…

    Bror, what do you mean was? There still is a lot of anti-Simpsons sentiment within Christian circles.

    I thought the Venezuelan ban is pretty funny, watch for an episode, blasting them for the ban. I do think you are on to something about satire being insidious, because rather than placating it raises questions and is frequently aimed at public officials and societal norms and quirks. Some how I do not picture a dictator enjoying jabs at them, always pictured them as egomaniacs.

  • allen

    Remember when Homer made a pledge to PBS and then reneged on it? The cartoon characters from Sesame Street etc came over to break some bones. Homer fled to Reverend Lovejoy for help. He put Homer on a plane to be a missionary somewhere. Homer didn’t want to go. Bracing his hands and feet on the hatch as the Reverend pushed, he objected, “But I don’t even believe in Jebus!” As the plane flew away, he screamed, “Help me Jebus!”

    That was cool.

  • allen

    Remember when Homer made a pledge to PBS and then reneged on it? The cartoon characters from Sesame Street etc came over to break some bones. Homer fled to Reverend Lovejoy for help. He put Homer on a plane to be a missionary somewhere. Homer didn’t want to go. Bracing his hands and feet on the hatch as the Reverend pushed, he objected, “But I don’t even believe in Jebus!” As the plane flew away, he screamed, “Help me Jebus!”

    That was cool.

  • S Bauer

    And who in Venezuela is the closest parallel to Mr. Burns, eh?

  • S Bauer

    And who in Venezuela is the closest parallel to Mr. Burns, eh?

  • kerner

    One of my favorite lines was from Rev. Lovejoy, the “mainline” denomination minister, to Homer.

    “Why don’t you join one of the other major religions, Homer. They’re all pretty much the same.”

    Liberal Christianity speaks. >;)

  • kerner

    One of my favorite lines was from Rev. Lovejoy, the “mainline” denomination minister, to Homer.

    “Why don’t you join one of the other major religions, Homer. They’re all pretty much the same.”

    Liberal Christianity speaks. >;)

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    I don’t think the Simpsons can really be described as either conservative or liberal. It’s mainly a satire, and as one going on for as long as it has, it has taken aim at pretty much everything it can. Given the many liberal aspects of modern society, this may make it seem conservative. But I think seeing it as only such is part of the frequent Christian desire to see our causes championed in popular culture (cf. “Is this band/song/lyric Christian?” discussions in any youth group). They take plenty of aim at things we hold dear, as well.

    Still, satire is bad for totalitarianism, because at its heart it tends to reject authority. And, when done well, can come up with some pretty funny lines:

    Lisa: Wow, look at all these flavors! Blessed Virgin Berry, Command-Mint, Bible Gum?
    Lovejoy: Or, if you prefer, we also have Unitarian ice cream. [hands Lisa an empty bowl]
    Lisa: There’s nothing here.
    Lovejoy: Exactly.

    And here’s one that not only will many here appreciate, but that I myself still laugh at:

    Bill Clinton: No, thank you, Lisa, for teaching kids everywhere a valuable lesson: If things don’t go your way, just keep complaining until your dreams come true.
    Marge: That’s a pretty lousy lesson.
    Clinton: Hey, I’m a pretty lousy president. [winks]

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    I don’t think the Simpsons can really be described as either conservative or liberal. It’s mainly a satire, and as one going on for as long as it has, it has taken aim at pretty much everything it can. Given the many liberal aspects of modern society, this may make it seem conservative. But I think seeing it as only such is part of the frequent Christian desire to see our causes championed in popular culture (cf. “Is this band/song/lyric Christian?” discussions in any youth group). They take plenty of aim at things we hold dear, as well.

    Still, satire is bad for totalitarianism, because at its heart it tends to reject authority. And, when done well, can come up with some pretty funny lines:

    Lisa: Wow, look at all these flavors! Blessed Virgin Berry, Command-Mint, Bible Gum?
    Lovejoy: Or, if you prefer, we also have Unitarian ice cream. [hands Lisa an empty bowl]
    Lisa: There’s nothing here.
    Lovejoy: Exactly.

    And here’s one that not only will many here appreciate, but that I myself still laugh at:

    Bill Clinton: No, thank you, Lisa, for teaching kids everywhere a valuable lesson: If things don’t go your way, just keep complaining until your dreams come true.
    Marge: That’s a pretty lousy lesson.
    Clinton: Hey, I’m a pretty lousy president. [winks]

  • Anon

    The Simpsons were very corrosive to children respecting their parents. Now that that has been accomplished, it is probably more corrosive to powers and principalities, hence Chavez’ concern. Baywatch isn’t nearly as corrupting.

  • Anon

    The Simpsons were very corrosive to children respecting their parents. Now that that has been accomplished, it is probably more corrosive to powers and principalities, hence Chavez’ concern. Baywatch isn’t nearly as corrupting.

  • http://joshschroeder.blogspot.com/ Josh Schroeder

    I can think of at least one episode where they picked on Fidel Castro.

  • http://joshschroeder.blogspot.com/ Josh Schroeder

    I can think of at least one episode where they picked on Fidel Castro.


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