I have not been a long-time fan of The Simpsons TV series but sometimes I catch an episode now and then. These writers are very good and often times provocative in insightful and interesting ways. A good bit of serious theological reflection has actually gone into several full-length books and articles on The Simpsons television series.
I was thus fascinated to learn that The Simpsons is actually a cultural phenomenon in many other parts of the world, especially in South America. But Monte Reel notes in this weekend’s Washington Post that Homer Simpson has succeeded in offending many people in Argentina. The reason is Homer Simpson’s complaining at Moe’s Pub, with his crumbling buddies, about the presidential candidates in America. Homer’s buddy Carl says, "I’d really go for some kind of military dictator like Juan Peron." To many this cut too deeply since they do not think Peron was a dictator at all. And Carl’s friend Lenny referred to Peron’s famous, and adored, wife as "Madonna."
This episode hasn’t aired in Argentina yet but it is widely known in Latin America where "Los Simpson" is one of the most popular programs of all, even more popular than in the U. S. When "The Simpsons Movie" debuted in South America it was a huge box-office success. Somehow the show transcends its cultural categories in unusual ways.
Venezuela’s telecommunications commission threatened last week to punish a station that airs The Simpsons on daytime television. In Brazil the show inflamed passions when the Simpson family visited Rio de Janeiro in 2002. The show featured Homer being kidnapped by a taxi driver.
The Simpsons executive producer, Al Jean, turned the heat up a notch when he said: "At ‘The Simpsons’ we will not rest until we have aggravated every country on Earth." If you don’t find that a clever answer then you don’t understand the premise that makes The Simpsons so popular.