Lifetime of Simpsons

S04 E06 – Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie

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Ah, the struggle of having something banned in your house. I’ve talked before how the Simpsons themselves were briefly banned in my house growing up, it didn’t last long but it’s still something that really sticks with you. I don’t have kids yet, so who knows if my thoughts are going to change, but right now I tell myself I’ll never ban anything from my kids, because in my experience, if a parent bans something, it’s just a sign that you need to see it. And of course, since it seems like they represent any sort of censorship, the episode is about our old pals Itchy and Scratchy. Quick aside before we dive in, my hands hate typing the name Scratchy. I don’t know why, but I don’t think I’ve typed it correctly in the whole run of this blog, my fingers just don’t work right with it, so episodes like this can drive me nuts.

The episode starts right off with an amazing joke of a commercial for Star Trek XII: So Very Tired. Now, Star Trek is a geek property that I really know nothing about. I’ve never seen any Next Generation, or any of those movies, and I’ve seen like two episodes of the classic series and Wrath of Khan. Yet despite that, I know a lot about the property, and can usually get a Star Trek reference, and can even make them, and honestly that knowledge tends to come from second-hand sources, the Simpsons included. It’s jokes like these that show why the Simpsons is so great, because even if you don’t understand the reference, it’s still a funny joke. We have elderly Captain Kirk talking to himself, “I complain…but no one listens,” and the morbidly obese Mr. Scott being too fat to reach his control panel. Genius. But after that commercial we get into the real plot of the episode because Marge and Homer are getting ready to go to a parent teacher conference for the kids. My brother and I are four years apart, so besides briefly having 5th and 1st grade in the same school, we were never together, and didn’t have to have the parents go to the same school for the conferences, which would really be hard I assume. I do love their plan though that if they’re good they get pizza for dinner, and if they’re bad they get poison. Great parenting Homer.

While they drive to the school, Homer guilts Marge into letting him do Lisa’s class, leaving her to deal with Bart’s conference. And Homer obviously made the right call, since his time with Ms. Hoover is just him getting stuck in the desk, making fart noises, and getting praised as a wonderful parent. Marge on the other hand is just getting a list of atrocities, complete with surprise witnesses. And while all of this is going on we pan back to the house to see Bart grabbing Grandpa’s teeth and destroying things with them, just to hammer in the fact he’s kind of a shit. I love that Mrs. Krabappel has Marge write on the chalkboard as punishment for raising Bart. Homer finally comes to find Marge, and they have a talk about needing to be stricter with Bart, because if he buckles down he could become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which Homer really wants. Marge then has a ridiculous fantasy of what will happen to Bart if he’s allowed to stay terrible, and she assumes he’ll be a sleazy male stripper called Bang Bang Bart. So with the new plan of punishing Bart in place, they head home, just as Bart is breaking Grandpa’s dentures, and haphazardly taping them together. Homer and Marge get home, and right away realize that Bart has done something bad, and broken the dentures, so they debate how to punish him. I love Homer’s logic of “since you broke Grandpa’s teeth, he gets to break yours.” And that Grandpa is super into that plan. But Marge shoots down that plan and sends Bart to bed without dinner. And unfortunately right before Bart finally gives up and thinks about being a good kid, Homer shows up with pizza for him.

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The plot then really gets going when Lisa is later watching TV and sees a commercial for an upcoming Itchy and Scratchy Movie. Bart is busy melting a James Bond toy in the microwave while petting Snowball II, which is hilarious, but Lisa comes rushing in and the two get psyched. We then start popping between the town getting excited for the movie, and Homer failing to punish Bart for his behavior. He doesn’t take the trash out, but distracts Homer with the Bumblebee Man show, and Homer stops punishing him for smashing mustard packets in the living room because the ice cream man shows up. Homer then gives Bart advice on jury duty, which is “the trick is to say you’re prejudiced against all races.” Meanwhile Springfield is getting pumped for the movie, with the crazy blood spraying billboard, and Kent Brockman’s on-site interview with the Korean animators. We also get a mini-documentary about Itchy and Scratchy on Eye on Springfield, and man is it ridiculous. I love that Itchy and Scratchy is the Simpson’s universes version of Disney, with their 20’s short films, including Steamboat Itchy, and them fighting Hilter with FDR in WWII. And Bart is all excited for the movie, even having his ticket in advance, but then he does something pretty inexcusable. He was supposed to watch Maggie, and she somehow slipped away from him, got in Homer’s car, and managed to take it on a joyride, passing Marge, and smashing into the prison. And man are Homer and Marge pissed. Homer decides to actually punish Bart, since he wants him to be Chief Justice, and bans him from ever seeing the Itchy and Scratchy Movie.

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And for the first time ever, Homer is sticking to his guns and not letting Bart watch the movie. Bart starts to go crazy, trying to sneak into the movie, and even getting beat up by Nelson and Millhouse because he hadn’t seen it. At that point Lisa and Marge even try to appeal to Homer and get him to change his mind, but Homer is adamant in his decision. There’s two gags in this period that really worked for me, having Bart’s imagination not working anymore when he tried to think of his own Movie, and him resorting to reading the novelization of the movie, which really made me laugh because I was a total dork who read a bunch of novelizations of movies when I was a kid. But despite everything Bart tries, Homer doesn’t back down, and he doesn’t get to see the movie. We cut to a year later when Kent Brockman is doing a report on the last day the movie will be shown in theaters, and we learn it won 9 Academy Awards. And Bart still never saw it. The episode then ends with a sweet little scene set in the future where Bart, who is Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and a super old Homer go see the movie at a special screening, and we end on the wonderful interactions of:

Homer: “Which one’s the mouse?”

Bart: “Itchy.”

Homer: “Itchy’s a jerk.”

Yep. Itchy’s a jerk.

This was a fun episode. I love seeing Bart being as horrible as the writers could make him, just like when the family acts super horrible in a Marge episode. And the montage of Homer being unable to focus enough to punish Bart was a whole lot of fun. It was the whole banning the movie thing that didn’t super work for me. I said earlier about how I think banning things from kids is stupid, because it really is. I guess it’s a little different when it’s a punishment, and not like, a moral call though. If you’re keeping kids away from something because you don’t know how to talk to them about it, that’s just bad parenting, but this was different. I feel like it would just make Bart resentful of Homer by doing this, but hey I guess it worked, in this version of the future he’s Chief Justice, and not a sleazy stripper.

Take Away: Don’t ban things from your kids without a good reason. And Earl Warren was both a stripper and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

“Itchy & Scratchy: the Movie” was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Rich Moore, 1992

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