The Simpsons Movie

In ‘The Simpsons Movie’, director David Silverman and his team of producers: James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Mike Scully and Richard Sakai use humour to incorporate other relevant messages into the film. Three of the most important factors are environment, government and family relationships.

At the beginning of the Simpsons Movie, David Silverman uses GreenDay to make the audience aware of the social issues surrounding the environment; not only because of their famous songs, but because the band name itself promotes the environment.

When the band is shown singing off a barge on Lake Springfield, their main singer is just singing from a script saying ‘Da Da’ again and again. David Silverman’s use of humour sends a message mocking singers for singing off scripts and also implies crowds are easily pleased. However, the musical sensation is suddenly put off when he says:

“We have been playing for 3 and a half hours, now we’d like to say something about the environment!”

~Billy Joe Armstrong, GreenDay lead singer, the Simpsons Movie

The crowd is then suddenly put off by the message and turns to violence.

This is a cleverly made scene, due to the crowd reacting in the opposite way by throwing rubbish and pollutants at them; this makes it easier for the audience to see the contrast between both groups of society. The band then picks up violins and re-enacts the final moments of the Titanic before the barge corrodes and sinks; this humour is focused on nowadays ignorance to the environment, and makes the audience aware of not only the acidic water that is made by waste, but by the lives lost to the mistreated environment.

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The United States produces approximately 547 thousands of metric tonnes of household waste per annum. That is 22.2% of the world’s total emission of household waste per annum. Using the history of Titanic, the audience is also reminded of the icebergs and icecaps which are being melted due to pollution. Silverman used this scene to make the audience aware of the ignorance in American society for the environment considering the sad history of the Titanic and the terrible household waste statistics produced by America. In my opinion, this scene would have never been successful without the use of Greenday and the acidic lake, due to all the clever subconscious messages sent through the humour.

Later in the movie, Lake Springfield gets so polluted that Lisa Simpson decides to take action. She runs a meeting at the town hall, where all adult members of society turn up. When she tries to describe the seriousness of the situation, people always brought up other things.

“Am I getting through to anyone?”

~Lisa Simpson, the Simpsons Movie

But someone in the audience suggests that a new scissor lift should be bought, and a vote is passed by the mayor. Silverman uses the humour in this scene to show how easily distracted society can be to the real problems. However, the mayor takes this seriously and makes everyone in the town clean up the lake.

“Initiate code black”

Mayor of Springfield, the Simpsons Movie

Silverman uses the seriousness of the situation to add some humour into the scene:

“Black…..that’s the worst colour there is…no offence Carl!”

Lenny, the Simpsons Movie

This humour not only expresses the dreadful state of the environmental situation, it makes the audience aware of racism and the common use of it in everyday life, despite how sensitive the issue is not only in America, but worldwide. Using Carl’s cheerful attitude, Silverman turns the racism into a joke therefore not having a bad impact on the audience as it could’ve.

However hard the town’s efforts are to restore the cleanliness of the lake, Homer Simpson dumps a silo of his pet’s waste in the lake in hurry for free donuts. Soon the government gets involved, and Springfield alerts the EPA’s attention (environmental protection agency). Silverman uses this plot to introduce the main evil character in the Simpsons Movie.

“I have made you 5 easy choices”

~Russ Kargel, the Simpsons Movie

“I pick number 3”

~President Schwarzenegger, the Simpsons Movie

“You don’t even want to read them sir?”

~Russ Kargel, the Simpsons Movie

“I was elected to lead, not to read”

~President Schwarzenegger, the Simpsons Movie

In this conversation, Arnold Schwarzenegger shows he knows a lot about being a president; however he makes the wrong choice. Choice number three results in Springfield being sealed into a dome, and all the people who live there trapped. Silverman uses this ridiculous idea of being sealed into a dome as a governmental plot. This use of comedy makes the audience think of life being trapped in 1 area, and subconsciously makes the audience grateful to be able to explore around the world. In my opinion this scene is 1 of the main climaxes of the movie due to the whole of Springfield being trapped. This also makes the audience more aware of the evil governmental plots going on around the world. This scene made me think of all the attacks on other countries such as Iraq, and that maybe they were cover-ups and misunderstandings.

“We pay every resident $1000 so the government can ravage our states natural beauty”

~ Man who greets the Simpsons into Alaska, the Simpsons Movie

In this quote, the audience is reminded of this present time; the US government says it will offer exploration right for oil and gas in a north-western region of Alaska, but environmental groups fear the effects on wildlife in the region, including the polar bear population. In my opinion, this scene works well to inform the audience well and make them more aware of the events going on in Alaska.

“No Lisa, it’s not like the government is listening to our conversation”

~Marge Simpson, the Simpsons Movie

Silverman cleverly uses humour, when Lisa warns her mother to talk quietly because the government may be listening looking for them.

This ends up being true; the train conductor is a robot that listens in to their conversation and a government employee in the NSA (National Security Agency) tracks them down.

“The government actually found someone!”

~NSA employee, the Simpsons Movie

This statement mocks the US government for their inadequacy of being unable to find people they are looking for. Silverman cunningly uses this humour to imply that the government is spying on everyone’s conversation. This is makes the audience more aware of the government ‘tapping in’ on conversations. I think this scene adds great humour to the movie, and is a vital part of the movie to show the evil governmental schemes.

“It takes real courage and leadership to make choices without knowing them”

~Russ Kargel, the Simpsons Movie

In this quote, Silverman uses Russ Kargel to show how persuasion is easily used politically by fusing it with pride.

However, president Schwarzenegger picks number 3 again. But Russ Kargel makes the president pick Number 4 by manipulating his answer. Silverman uses humour here to show how easy the president’s words can be manipulated. Soon after the plot to destroy Springfield is confirmed, the government hires Tom Hanks to create propaganda on TV so the people of the US support the government.

“The US ran out of credibility, so they borrowed mine”

~Tom Hanks, the Simpsons Movie

In this quote Tom Hanks admits that the government are just using him as propaganda. A boy then asks Tom hanks to tussle his hair. Silverman uses this humour to show how easily pleased people are. Silverman also shows the audience how corrupt the government can make society, just by using popular figures to their advantage. I think this scene is very important in telling the audience not to always trust political figures and famous people.

While all these things in the movie are going on, Silverman uses humour to show family problems and relationships with modern Americans. The Simpsons family represents an average modern American family. And during the movie, Silverman makes the family go through hard times.

At the start of the movie, the Simpsons are late for church and Homer starts saying things not knowing people inside are listening:

“Those pious morons probably aren’t listening anyway”

~Homer Simpson, the Simpsons Movie

Silverman always makes the opposite things happen to create humour. When inside the church Homer says praise ‘Jeebus’ instead of ‘Jesus’. This humour is cleverly used to show how American families go to church but aren’t actually religious. Inside the church, Bart Simpson starts to play a handheld game, but Maggie takes it away from him. This furthermore stresses the point through humour that American families only believe in their religion ‘for show’.

Then when his neighbour ‘Ned Flanders’ wants to confess, Homer crosses his fingers hoping that he is gay. This shows that the relationship between American families is very bad, and that neighbours are always saying bad things behind each other’s backs. This humour implies that American families don’t always have good relationships. This makes the audience more aware of the life of an American family. I think this scene is very important in the film, for Bart starts to take more of a liking to Flanders than his own father.

Later when Homer is doing his chores, Silverman shows Homer’s relationship for Flanders, when he is told to dispose of a bee hive, he jams it into Flanders’s mailbox. Although Flanders is a good hearted religious neighbour, Homer doesn’t like him, and always tries to cause trouble for Flanders. Silverman tries to give off the message that Americans are always trying to cause trouble with their neighbours. In my opinion, this scene is also quite important to furthermore show Homer’s disaffection for Flanders.

When Bart and Homer have a daring contest, Homer dares Bart to skate to Krusty’s burger bar and back naked. This results in him being handcuffed to a pole outside the shop by police officers while they went inside and ate. Silverman shows the American police officers don’t care about the fugitives, and would rather have their lunch break. The audience is made aware of these ‘dirty’ police officers, and they are subconsciously made more aware of this situation in America.

“We all don’t want to wear our clothes sometimes”

~Police officer outside Krusty’s Burger Bar, the Simpsons Movie

A police officer says this to Bart to convince him to put his clothes back on. However the officer doesn’t realise that Homer dared Bart to do this. Using humour Silverman shows that American parents don’t accept the consequences in what they tell their children to do. I think this scene is very important, it shows the audience how Bart slowly starts to hate his father.

“If you know a greasier burger than this, you’re in Mexico”

~Krusty the clown in advertisement, the Simpsons Movie

In this quote, Krusty states that Mexico has the greasiest burgers. America is known as the spiritual home of the super-sized meal, more than 119 million adults – or 64.5% of the adult population are either overweight or obese. Silverman cleverly made this scene to make the audience aware of obesity in the US.

Later on, Homer grows attached to a pig he rescues, and starts to forget about his family. Silverman uses this stereotype to show how forgetful fathers can be of their own family. As Homer’s bond with this animal starts to strengthen, he starts to forget about the rest of his family. Silverman uses this humour to tell the audience how parents can start to forget, and favour other children/things more.

“Come on guys it will be really great fun, and I’ve really come to like you guys”

~Homer Simpson, the Simpsons Movie

In this quote, it shows Homer doesn’t take his family serious. In this scene Homer wants to go to Alaska, but Silverman makes it as if Homer has maybe already had a family before this, and doesn’t take families serious. Also, in this scene Homer convinces them to come to Alaska by going over their wedding vows. Through this is a funny statement, Silverman informs the audience of fathers in America abandoning there families.

Near the end of the movie, Homer apologises to Bart for being a bad father. Bart doesn’t want to accept his apology, but when Homer mentions that he could hold the bomb, Bart forgives him. Silverman uses this humour to show how father and son are both simpleminded and alike.

“What a great mistake you turned out to be Maggie”

~Homer Simpson

In this quote, Homer confesses that Maggie was a mistake. Silverman uses this humour to show how a lot of families in general are started of as mistakes. In my opinion, this humour was very informative for the audience, but subliminally made them to think about the consequences of sex.

At the end of the movie, Homer and Marge kiss in the woods riding on a motorbike. After kissing Marge says that was the best kiss of her life. But after learning many thing in his ‘quest’ to save Springfield’, Homer alters her words to say it was ‘the best kiss of her life so far’. Silverman’s uses this moment to sum up the movie and show how Homer progresses throughout the movie. This message tells the audience to cherish what they have, and look forward to the future.

Using all these different techniques such as subliminal messaging and sarcasm, this is how Silverman of the Simpsons uses humour to incorporate other relevant messages into the film. But did he mean all the messages? Or were some just a coincidence?

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The Simpsons Movie. (2017, Sep 13). Retrieved from

The Simpsons Movie
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