Alright everybody, let’s talk about censorship! I really forgot how critical this episode can be, and it really brings up something that pisses me off. People trying to destroy something instead of just parenting their children. Let’s get into it.
We start off with a classic first-act misdirect of having Marge preparing her incredibly complicated pork chop recipe. Side-note, I don’t think I’ve ever had a pork shop that I didn’t think was disgusting. The Simpsons eat them all the damned time, but man do I think they’re gross. Anyway, Homer sees all the effort Marge is going through to make the pork chops, and decides that he’s going to make a spice rack for her. So while the kids are in the living room watching Itchy and Scratchy, Homer is in the garage, attempting to be handy. I’ve never been a particularly handy person, and boy do I connect with Homer as he tries his best to make a relatively simple project, and it comes out looking like crap. But while he’s working on it, Maggie sneaks into the garage, and hits Homer on the head with a mallet, leading to a pretty great Psycho reference as he falls to the ground and bucket of paint oozes down a drain.
Marge is at a loss to explain why Maggie acted so violently toward Homer, until she sees Maggie watch an episode of Itchy and Scratchy where Itchy tries to stab Scratchy, and she immediately grabs a pencil and tries to stab Homer. Marge decides that watching Itchy and Scratchy will make the kids violent, and bans it from the house. It’s kind of weird that there were two episodes in a row that had references to kids enacting things they saw on television, which once again is something I think is ridiculous. It’s the same argument that I started to hear as a kid saying that you shouldn’t play violent video game because they’ll make you a serial killer. It’s ridiculous. If you can’t tell the real world from fiction you shouldn’t be interacting with the fiction, and that’s not a TV show or videogame’s fault, that’s your upbringing. Your parents should be teaching you that the things you see in movies or videogames aren’t real, and that’s not how people act. I watched all sorts of violent movies as a kid, and I never once thought it was a good idea to shoot someone like Robocop. It’s always just seemed like lazy parenting to me. They don’t want to talk to their kid and tell them how to act, so they attempt to ban the things they think will make their kid bad. It really pisses me off, and I feel like I could rant about this for pages, but this is about the Simpsons, so I’ll get off the topic.
I love that the other kids in school give Bart sympathy for not getting to watch Itchy and Scratchy anymore. There were kids in school growing up that didn’t get to watch TV, and everyone treated them like they were bereaved. It’s also great the Homer has to call into work saying that his baby beat him up. Bart and Lisa figure out that they can get around the ban on Itchy and Scratchy by going to friends houses. I’ve mentioned before that my parents briefly banned the Simpsons because my brother started repeating lines with profanity, and there was like a month of two before they got him to understand that he shouldn’t swear, and we got the show back, but man would it have been nice to be able to sneak over to a friend’s house to watch them. Marge begins cataloging all the violence on Itchy and Scratchy to write an angry letter. The letter ends up at a few different places, Krusty gets it but cant read, and animator for the show gets it but doesn’t care and throws it out, and it makes it’s way up to Roger Meyers Jr. the head of Itchy and Scratchy. I love Roger Meyers Jr. He’s only in a few episodes, but he really makes me laugh. When he reads the letter, he decides to send back an antagonizing letter of his own, telling Marge that she can’t do anything about cartoon violence because shes just one “screwball.” So of course Marge starts a protest!
She begins picketing the studio, and even protests during one of Krusty’s shows, live on the air. The creators of Itchy and Scratchy fight back by creating a caricature of Marge as an annoying squirrel who shows up to stop Itchy and Scratchy from being funny. Things escalate to the point that Marge is invited onto a talk show with Roger Meyers Jr, Krusty, and Marvin Monroe to discuss violence in the media. As big an asshole as Roger Meyers is, I totally agree with him, and I think the show wants you to. But there’s a lot of dumb parents in Springfield, and they begin bombarding Meyers with hate-mail, including one disturbing one where the person says if they ever see him crossing the street, they won’t break. Jesus.
After so much blowback from the scandal, Meyers decides to change the show, and they start calling Marge to see how she would end episodes, instead of violence. I think it’s super sweet that in that scene, she’s using Homer’s terrible spice rack. Anyway, Marge starts to basically run the show, and quickly destroys it. The show becomes a saccharine mess, and the kids start to bail, fast. Especially because of the episode “Porch Pals” where Itchy and Scratchy sit on a porch, drinking lemonade and complimenting each other. Even though that joke makes me laugh my ass off, the kids hate it, and start actually going outside for a change. All the kids stop watching TV, and the town turns into a damn Norman Rockwell painting as they all frolic around the town.
The town becomes a repressed Conservative paradise, all thanks to Marge. Until news comes that Springfield is for some reason hosting an exhibition of Michelangelo’s David. The annoying mothers in town come to Marge assuming that she’ll champion their cause to get rid of the filthy statue, but to their surprise, she’s all for it. She’s brought back on Smartline, where she stuns everyone with her pro-David stance. However, this leads the other panelist to point out that it’s hypocritical of her to back one type of artistic expression, but call another worthless. She’s stuck, and ends up admitting that maybe Itchy and Scratchy isn’t so bad after all. There’s then an amazing joke that claims Smartline will next tackle which religion is the one true faith, which man would I love to watch that one. Itchy and Scratchy goes back to normal, and so does the town. The episode ends with the kids at home watching Itchy and Scratchy disembowel each other, while Homer and Marge are in an empty museum looking at David.
This was a great episode. It tackled a very interesting cultural topic that was very big when the episode came out, and continues to be a sticking point. I think I ranted enough about how wrong I think Marge is in this episode, so I think I’m just going to close this out by saying that this episode was great, and that people should really think about the morals this episode brings up.
Take Away: Not to beat a dead horse, but I think the Take Away is that you shouldn’t censure things. The idea that parents want to censure “scandalous” topics instead of just talking to their kids about it is ridiculous to me. Don’t be like Marge and ban something just because you don’t want your kids to see it. Just don’t let them see it. Rant over!
“Itchy & Scratchy & Marge” was written by John Swartzwelder and was directed by Jim Reardon.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons