After twenty years, are The Simpsons finally becoming like that which they've mercilessly lampooned: Disney?
"Homer Vs. Mickey," an article on The Economist's More Intelligent Life website, traces the development of The Simpsons from counter-cultural gadflies to entertainment icons. A lot of the Simpsons aesthetic was consciously built in opposition to that of the Disney "look" and "feel" – but 20 years (and massive stardom and licensing) later, is the Simpsons brand really that different?
At the same time, the article points out, many of Disney's own properties have developed a self-reflective sense of humor about themselves that rivals even The Simpsons' own gags:
"In 2007 Disney made fun of its own saccharine tradition of animated princesses with the brilliant “Enchanted”, whose heroine enlists the help of a swarm of cockroaches, rats and pigeons to clean a New York apartment. This was a much funnier take on Disney woodland animals than the sequence in “The Simpsons Movie” where Disney-ish animals watch, appalled, as Marge and Homer have sex."
Moreover, while even the classic Disney animated features tackle tough subject matter such as dying parents and the struggles of growing up, the characters on The Simpsons have stayed exactly the same:
"There’s something comforting about the way no one in Springfield ever changes or ages. Disney loves to tangle with the travails of growing up: Mowgli, Hercules and Tarzan are all like the heroes of earnest bildungsromans, forging the difficult path to manhood. The Simpsons have no such struggles. No matter how many dramas happen to them–kidnap, imprisonment, nuclear meltdown–Bart is always ten, Lisa eight and Maggie a baby."
What do you think? Is The Simpsons a shade of its former rebellious self? Do you prefer Marge or Mrs. Incredible? Do you have more Disney or Simpsons collectables in your house? Or have you simply given up on all of it and stick with The Venture Bros.?