Civic Education with The Simpsons

  • Michael Wehner
  • Sebastian Reinkunz
  • Isabel Flory

Abstract

Impudent, disrespectful and packed with slapstick comedy – this is the most prominent and most controversial cartoon family in TV history: The Simpsons. Critics complain about the decay of manners and the offensive humor of the show. There is considerable potential for civic education in the yellow universe of The Simpsons, however. On the basis of three Simpsons-episodes this article analyzes the depiction of elections and electoral races in a media democracy. This analysis aims at extracting critical positions from the satiric presentation of debates, media events and political rhetoric and connecting them to real campaigns in Germany and the USA. The examples are supposed to illustrate that The Simpsons do provide critical access to understanding campaigns in media societies – despite all satiric exaggeration of real events. Furthermore, the article shows that the series does not only comment critically on almost any event of social relevance, but also, more importantly, how we can make these comments work in civic education.
Published
2009-03-16