`Simpsons' lays an egg over episode kidding Army

On Blogs

November 19, 2006|By Troy McCullough | Troy McCullough,Sun Columnist

A day after Veterans Day, The Simpsons aired an episode lampooning the military.

Right-wing bloggers weren't laughing.

Fox's popular animated comedy has been no stranger to controversy over its 17-year history, but last Sunday's show - which portrayed military recruiters as scheming con men and commanders as inept strategists - triggered an especially loud response from many.

The episode, which started with an Army recruiting drive and ended with the town of Springfield being occupied during an out-of-hand war games exercise, took several jabs at the armed forces: A sign in the window of an Army recruiting office reads: "Suicidal teens welcome." When conniving recruiters fail to enlist a group of local kids, one recruiter laments: "Even the dumbest teenagers in the dumbest town in the dumbest state know better than to join the Army." And after new Army enlistee Homer Simpson is urged to surrender during a war games exercise, he proclaims: "I'm not going to surrender. You've seen what the U.S. Army does to prisoners."

Several bloggers interpreted the episode as left-wing gloating over the election - though the show was likely written long before Election Day. Still, for many, the timing couldn't have been worse.

"Gotta tell ya, the Simpsons doing this kind of episode on Veterans Day just makes me sick," wrote Flopping Aces (floppingaces.net).

"The mockery of Army recruiters and enlistees is absolutely disgusting," wrote Michelle Malkin.

"With good episodes increasingly hard to come by, it might be time for Fox to consider a timetable for withdrawal of this particular placeholder in the Sunday night lineup," added Hot Air (hotair.com).

Some of the most vitriolic responses came from the popular site Little Green Footballs. Several there called for a boycott, while others lamented the show's decline in quality - a common criticism by fans of all political stripes.

A few people, however, went off the deep end: "The bad news is that all these lib 5th column attacks on our military and on our American traditions are hastening the day the Islamofascists will be emboldened to strike. The good news is that the nukes will almost certainly first take out our `blue cities' (NY, LA, SF, Seattle, Washington, etc.), thus leaving us dumb, uneducated patriots to return America to its origins. Karma payback," writes one person.

Another contributor offered to take the show's creator, Matt Groening, "behind the woodshed" for a prison-style rape as punishment for his alleged crimes.

Such outrage is puzzling. The show has poked fun at the military before. In fact, not much has escaped the show's barbs.

The Simpsons' targets have included George H.W. Bush - who once chastised the show as against family values - Bill Clinton, Al Gore, the French, religious conservatives, liberal elitists, corrupt politicians, self-important news media, Major League Baseball, the city of New Orleans ("Home of pirates, drunks and whores!" according to a chorus sung in an early episode), the Fox Network and even the show itself. But aggrieved bloggers seem to care little about past targets. The military should be off-limits, they say.

It shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone that The Simpsons' writers disagree.

troy.mccullough@baltsun.com

Listen to Troy McCullough's podcasts at baltimoresun.com/onblogs.

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