The Simpsons Gets Dark


Here's last night's grim intro to the The Simpsons, directed by the graffiti artist Banksy. It's not unusual for the show to take shots at its parent company, but Banksy's couch gag also takes aim at the show itself. Pretty incredible that it made it on the air.

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  1. Yawn. Banksy is a talentless hack.

    1. +1

      That into was just meh. Trite, like everything the little middleclass twit does.

  2. You wonder if the censors at Fox even pay attention to the Simpsons anymore – I can’t imagine this being aired on a show in its first few seasons.

    1. The Simpsons got a really good deal from the beginning which allowed them to pretty much do what they wanted content-wise.

  3. Is there an alternate version that shows the sweatshop workers dying of starvation? Because that was the alternative for China unless they industrialized. Are working conditions in China great compared to the US? No, of course not, but they are great compared to China 40 years ago, which is the comparison that needs to be made. They are at the same place the West was during the 1800s. And like the West whenever everyone has enough food to eat and a place to live, they will start demanding and getting more. In fact, the poverty rate in China has fallen from over 60% to about 15% since they started industrializing. I guess Bansky and others who share his views would prefer that they still be living under famine conditions.

    1. Just read the accompanying article. Those are supposed to be South Koreans, not Chinese, which only makes the sweatshop comparison even dumber. I’m pretty sure the South Korean animators enjoy virtually the same quality of living that their American counterparts do.

      1. Plus I don’t think there are any Pandas in Korea.

        1. Of course, there are no unicorns, either.

        2. Maybe in a zoo.

          1. Or my dinner plate! MMMMmmmm Unicorn!

            1. As long as it’s dolphin-safe unicorn. (We need to dolphin heads to moisten packing tape.)

  4. The scene, which shows scores of Asian children producing animation cells for “The Simpsons” in hyperbolically grim conditions (one child throws kittens into a shredding machine to produce stuffing for Bart and Lisa dolls, while another seals boxes of the dolls with a decapitated dolphin head tape dispenser) mocks the means of production behind the show’s own making; much of the animation done for the show has been produced by various companies in South Korea, including AKOM and Sunwoo Entertainment’s Anivision Studios.

    If I were a Korean, I would feel not only appalled and outraged at such portrayal, but also puzzled at the level of ignorance this person shows about the world. There’s no difference between this depiction and how other cartoons (like The Simpsons) depict Mexicans still moving around riding burros and living in adobe shacks.

    1. Wait, you mean you don’t live in an adobe shack, OM? I always wondered how you got internet in your hovel.

      1. He gets it the same way all Mexicans do. He steals it.

        1. The only thing we steal is electricity, Gobbler. And Satellite TV. But not internet…

          1. Last year in Jamaica, I saw a billboard that read:
            “You know stealing is wrong… so why do you steal electricity?”

          2. I stand corrected, OM.

      2. Maybe not adobe shacks, but not matter how nice the house with its vinyl siding and all, there still will be chickens in the yard…


    2. Mexicans wished they lived in adobe shacks.

      1. These days, the one place you can’t seem to find them living is in Mexico.

        1. It’s because all the illegal aliens from Nicaragua came and took their jobs. They had to leave just to find work.

    3. I could be wrong, but I always see depictions of Mexicans such as you mention as an ironic sendup of they way many Americans see things in other countries.

    4. New Mexicans still live in adobe shacks, at astronomical prices. Just go to Santa Fe or Taos and see for yourself.

  5. They’ve made a few jokes about enslaved Koreans animators in the past, and the unicorn undercuts any sort of serious comment.

    I though it was funny.

    1. *thought* me no type good

    2. I was going to point this out. The last time they did it, the Korean animation company got seriously PISSED.

    3. I thought it was hilarious.

  6. Was that Obama’s unicorn?

    1. Are you suggesting that Michelle didn’t start out looking like that?

  7. Perhaps the whole thing was poking fun at how liberals must view anything to do with FOX.

  8. Interesting that a message decrying sweatshops also includes over-the-top parodies of liberal fears of sweatshops. Sad panda, dolphin tongue, dying unicorn — what’s not to like?

    My question: since this extended opening must have taken the Korean animators twice as long to draw, did Banksy spring for time-and-a-half for the exploited workers?

    1. dolphin tongue

      I thought it was from the BabySeal line of box-tapers.

    2. did Banksy spring for time-and-a-half for the exploited workers?

      They show runners go with long intros when the episode itself is short so it is somewhat of a push.

  9. Not surprising it made it to air at all.

    Very similar to the recent Futurama depiction of the Third World of the Antares System.

  10. With its fact-free anti-nuclear message drummed into the intro of any show, has there ever been a more harmful example of cartoon propaganda? Think of the millions of tons of CO2 that annually go into the air because the US can’t get its act together and go nu-Q-lur to the same extent as France or Japan.

    One day I will find Matt Groening and take a shit in his mouth.

    1. It’s Matt Groening’s fault that people overreacted to Three Mile Island?

    2. Re: Puff-pass,

      One day I will find Matt Groening and take a shit in his mouth.

      You know, I used to think that all this eleutherophobic crapola was nothing more than a pose to garner applause from a small clique of liberal simpletons like the ones that hang around Hollywood and Vine, but now I truly believe these guys are nothing more than ignorant fools that take pleasure on shocking people – while being true eleutherophobes.

      1. I am confessing my ignorance. What does eleutherophobic mean?

        1. An irrational fear of using Google.

          1. You, sir, win the Internet.

          2. You, sir, win the Internet.

    3. Been there. Done that.

    4. has there ever been a more harmful example of cartoon propaganda?

      Passing more than puffing these days, huh? Chill the hell out, it’s a cartoon comedy.

    5. I think even the most committed proponents of nuclear energy would agree that a power plant run by morons is an bad idea.

      1. Homer Simpson couldn’t even get the psyc certificate to fillout an aplication to work in a nuclear plant.

    6. With its fact-free anti-nuclear message drummed into the intro of any show, has there ever been a more harmful example of cartoon propaganda?

      Uhh… Captain Planet? Seriously, this into doesn’t even come close.

      1. What were Captain Planet’s series ratings and longevity compared to The Simpsons?

    7. What industry/profession do you think gets a pass from the Simpsons?

      A Nuclear Power plant run competently by skilled employees wouldn’t be funny. The Simpsons pushes all stereotypes to the extreme.

    8. I never have seen the Simpsons as pushing any sort of anti nuclear message, and I still don’t. I think you are reaching a bit.

      1. seriously whats the last time u even remember seeing a new episode even involving the powerplant?

    9. Anti-nuke paranoia has been around since long before the Simpsons, and if anhthing has gotten milder.

      Personally, I hold groups like GreenPeace responsible for drumming up the anti-nuke hysteria, more thsan anyone.

    10. Not for nothing, but Springfield still has nuclear power. And the plant is apparently so easy to run that morons can do it without fear of meltdown.

      The Simpsons are regular church-goers–despite the derision loaded on Flanders.

      Sometimes one wonders whose message Groening is actually pushing.

  11. Pretty incredible that it made it on the air


    1. Meh.

  12. At first I thought it was a brilliant satire on anti-outsourcing & anti-sweatshop panic.

    But a little googling shows that Banksy is an anti-capitalist zealot. So maybe he really intended to strike a blow for the oppressed workers of South Korea. Gee, if only they had the good fortune to live in a country where capitalism had been abolished ….

    1. He could show the happy workers under the leadership of The Captain!

      1. I would gladly serve under the leadership of Captain Stabbin’

    2. I’m sure he’s OK about capitialism for himself, so he can’t be a complete zealot.

    3. But like so many of his ilk, he takes a check from Fox to send up Fox and thinks himself so fucking smart at the end of the day.

  13. How an executive producer of the show explains it all:


    “I think that we should always be able to say the holes in our DVDs are poked by unhappy unicorns.”

  14. I don’t think self-parody is all that new for The Simpsons. Krusty’s show, for instance, has been used many times to make fun of different aspects of the show (remember the writer’s meetings in the Poochie episode?).

  15. This type of stuff would/will be used in school classrooms across the country (middle, high, and college are all fair game) to highlight America’s voracious appetite for pop-culture nothings at the expense of human, animal, and environmental resources in far-off lands that we American pigs, in our comfortable and slovenly ways, ignore at the expense of our own moral virtue.

    It’s the stuff of liberal wet-dreams and hand-wringing over the worldwide harm done by our consumption-based lifestyle.

    1. To quote Patrick Star:

      “Take it easy, it’s only a drawing.”

  16. I wonder if Banksy knows how many extra hours he forced the oppressed Korean workers to toil in their dungeon to complete his overlong intro.

    1. Not to mention the soul-crushing indignity of seeing themselves so represented, 30 times a second on non-recycled acetate.

      1. So meta.

  17. OK, watched it again two more times. it might not have been Banksy’s intent, but there is plenty to poke fun at in terms of the attitudes and misinformation people have about labor in other countries, how goods are produced, and the lifestyles lived outside of America and Europe.

    The unicorn was telling; an animal that could only be captured by unfair means being forced to further unfair labor practices — indeed, succumbing to them himself. People want to believe this fantasy because, for some reason, self-flagellation is fun and easy. Actually reading up on how parties mutually benefit from trade is too hard and takes the guts to admit you might have been wrong about everything you thought you knew.

    My cousin works for a company that has manufacturing facilities in China and Singapore. He spends two weeks out of every month over there for his job. His response to people who criticize him for perpetuating the American industrial slave machine is “yeah, because paying people a living wage [in their country] and providing them with shelter, clothing, and food is so CRIMINAL.”

    1. People want to believe this fantasy because, for some reason, self-flagellation is fun and easy.

      I think you’re getting self-flagellation confused with masturbation.

      1. one and the same for some people…

      2. One’s physical, one’s mental, but they both wind up leaving a nasty smell.

        1. You might want to see your doctor about that.

  18. People still watch the simpsons?

    1. Lucky for you they don’t… That’s the only reason your show seems fresh and original!

      1. His show is just a poor man’s American Dad!

        Leave. Griffen. Alone.

    2. Yes, and they watch reruns of the Simpsons on a show called “Family Guy”.

    3. Dude, what are you nuts? Of course they do!
      As far as I’m concerned every Americans should be legally obligated to watch the Simpsons.
      If you don’t like the Simpsons, you’re a communist.

      1. Well then paint me a communist, because I stopped watching them at least 15 years ago.

  19. directed by the graffiti artist Banksy

    Anyone whose canvas is someone else’s property isn’t an artist.

    1. I call bullshit.

    2. Right, because crime and art are mutually exclusive. Or something.

      1. Everyone knows that conversion only increases the value of your creation.

    3. I used to know Pro-Graffiti people in Chicago. Best way to shut them up is uncap a black sharpie and ask if you can borrow their laptop..

      1. Best way to shut them up is uncap a black sharpie and ask if you can borrow their laptop..

        “Nah man, it’s a new brand of stylus.”

        “Oh, ok…waitasecond, my laptop doesn’t work like a tablet….”

        1. “Really? Are you sure?”

  20. I really dig Banksy.

    That said, The Simpsons have been doin’ the cartoon sweatshop joke for awhile.

  21. I wonder how much FOX paid the anti-capitalist for that little shin-dig

  22. But a little googling shows that Banksy is an anti-capitalist zealot.

    I would take anything you “know” about Banksy with a BIG grain of salt. Seriously.

  23. Is it anticapitalist to criticize sweatshop conditions… or merely to acknowledge that they exist?

    1. Re: Tony,

      Is it anticapitalist to criticize sweatshop conditions… or merely to acknowledge that they exist?

      What’s a sweatshop condition?

      1. What’s a sweatshop condition?

        Any job that I wouldn’t want.

        Do I win a prize?

        1. Re: Michael,

          Any job that I wouldn’t want.

          Yep, you win. That is what amounts to in the mind of an eleutherophobe like Tony.

        2. Any job that I wouldn’t want.

          a paid cartoon artist…

          I wish I could draw. That, in my mind, would be fun

      2. Lack of air conditioning.

  24. Are the Simpsons still relevant?


  25. This CNN segment from 2007 takes us inside the real-life horrific Korean sweatshop where the Simpsons is produced.

    1. Chilling. I starting crying toward the end. Why won’t someone do something about these cruel bastards?!?

    2. I didn’t see a big barrel labeled “jokes”.

  26. Not a Simpsons fan, Balko? They joke about Korean slave labor has been made several times.

  27. So, I recently watched ‘Exit through the Gift Shop’ and had to wonder who is the biggest bullshit artist of all time. A) Mr. Brainwash, B) Banksy

  28. Grim? It’s hilarious.

    If you want to denounce sweatshops, you make a serious, realistic portrayal of the abuses that happen in them. You don’t include feeding kittens to a woodchipper to make fluff, a dolphin-head tape dispenser, and an enslaved unicorn. Those are so over-the-top they completely undermine any sentiment you’re trying to create, unless your audience has the mentality of a four-year-old.

    1. I agree. It works more as a tongue in cheek satire of the the idea that Simpsons workers are like the enslaved elves in Santa’s workshop.

  29. Banksy peaked when he was doing antiwar/anti-torture graffiti.

    Now he is a millionaire selling graffiti to other millionaires protesting the commercialization of art.

    by the way how is he able to work on the simpsons? I thought he was wanted for vandalism.

  30. Can they outsource the writing department?

  31. The Clerks animated series beat this gag by several years, and it was funnier.

  32. I’ve always loved the Simpsons and I found this intro to be very funny. I was laughing through the entire thing. People need to chill. I guess it’s a good thing Mohammed didn’t show up any where in there.

  33. you are all comic book guy

  34. This is outrageous! How insulting for a world-watched hip television show like The Simpsons to lift the curtain behind the dirty little open secret of 3rd World sweatshops! Like all libertarians, I hate and despise the idea of a large and prosperous American middle class — hell, we hate the idea of ANY large and prosperous middle class in ANY nation existing. The Koch brothers’ wonderful efforts in shrinking and destroying the American middle class are made harder if young peoples’ minds are affected by The Simpsons swipe at outsourcing/offshoring.

    1. Wow – that’s some weak sauce, brother. Sarcasm and parody are scalpels, not hammers.

  35. Sometimes I wonder if libertarians have any sense of humor.

  36. That was the funniest thing the show has done in a while. I lost it at the slave Panda part.

  37. The thing hardcore libertarians never address is this: even if you don’t have sweatshop conditions, by outsourcing you’re still depriving people in your OWN country of jobs, opportunity and income, just to increase your own bottom line. It’s like cannibalism. Why is that correct? Yes, business owners CAN hire whoever they choose, but is it RIGHT to screw over your fellow citizens? I mean, we made toys and cartoons before the 80’s. Were they impossible to buy then?

    The defense for outsourcing is always “Hey, we’re giving people in other countries a living wage!!”

    The business owners couldn’t care less about helping these people out of poverty. It’s a fig leaf used to sound magnanimous. They’re exploiting poverty and/or cost of living differentials at the expensive of people in this country. They don’t want to pay workers what the job is actually worth. The end. To defend the practice is mind-boggling to me.

    There’s that old quote about totalitarianism that goes “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out…” and probably a lot of you agree with that. But when it comes to economic matters, it’s a different story. When selfishness puts someone ELSE’S job on the chopping block, it’s perfectly fine. Wait until it’s yours.

    1. You want Americans doing work that can be done in a sweatshop? Don’t you think that’s a waste of Americans’ talents? Or at least it should be?

      The actual defense for outsourcing is that you should never produce something that you can buy cheaper. That goes for an individual, a household, or an economy.

      What is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarcely be a folly in that of a kingdom. If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it of them with some part of the produce of our own industry, employed in a way in which we have some advantage.

      — Adam Smith

  38. That goes for an individual, a household, or an economy.

    …or, not to forget the most crucial decision maker in this, a company.

  39. A bad intro made by a talentless hack.

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