Douglas Rushkoff: Media Manipulator
The Simpsons series is a satirical depiction of a middle class American lifestyle symbolized through the
Simpsons family consisting of
. The show is set in the fictional town of
and satirizes the
, society , television, and many aspects of the human condition
. Bart is a tenyearold “unconscious media manipulator”, who exploits the complexity of the current pop media. In the episode, “Radio Bart”, Bart's father, Homer, sees a commercial for a product he feels will make a great birthday gift for Bart: a microphone that can be used to broadcast to a special radio from feet away. Bart creates a scenario in which a little boy has fallen down a well. The story goes viral and almost immediately becomes a “virus”.
In short, the episode was about the tale of the "crying wolf"; however, the problem in this story is that the media are criticized because it did not take interest when the story actually became true. This long example embodies Douglas
Rushkoff’s larger argument about the significance of the show.
In "Bart Simpson: Prince of Irreverence", Rushkoff takes a look at how a show like
(an American animated sitcom created by
Matt Groening for the
) is more than what it seems. Rushkoff has followed along the same lines with his title. Rushkoff does not believe that Bart Simpson is simply irreverent (showing a lack of respect for people or things that are generally taken seriously);rather, “Bart embodies youth culture’s ironic distance from media and its
willingness to disassemble and resplice ever the most sacred cultural and ideological constructs” (Rushkoff, p. 245).
Bart is disrespectful but with reason. He's the voice of a very prominent american culture. Rushkoff explains the idea that Bart can easily take a current event in society and change it or point out its flaws.
Rushkoff believes that as
The Simpsons sends out messages showing how people can be manipulated and how they should become more aware than that. He wants people to realize that whenever they watch something or see an advertisement, they actually are able to really look at it questioning its motives and the intentions of the quality of the informatio
n. Rushkoff says that “Television programmers are not programming television sets or evening schedules; they are programming the viewers”(Rushkoff, p.242). Rushkoff shows us how a show like
The Simpsons can have a great effect on a large number of people. The larger argument educates people on this ancient idea that our information is gotten from above. This “topdown” cliche is a mechanism producers would utilize to maintain their authority and power on the viewer.
Since the invention of the remote control, this generation is no longer are seen as
“LaZBoy chair, walking up to the television set, and turning the dial”(p.243), burning 50 calories of…