October 12th, 2010
by Nick Briz
If you haven’t seen it yet, last night the Simpson’s aired quite the controversial opener. The producers thought it would be exciting to ask the famed British graffiti artist, Banksy, to design an opening title sequence. What they received in the mail was a story board which heavily criticized Fox and the Simpsons. The sequence starts out as usual, except for an occasional Banksy tag on the billboards and walls. In the end the music goes grim and we pan out to reveal ridiculously atrocious working conditions in the Simpsons’ outsourced animation studios in South Korea, which includes overworked pandas dragging crates of Bart Simpson dolls stuffed with dead rats over to the shipping boxes being sealed with a licking tongue from a dead dolphin’s head… for real. The brutal opener has everyone asking, “Is Fox OK with this?” In the last shot we zoom out of the horrible sweat shop to reveal it was all inside the 20th Century Fox logo (which is covered in barbed wire). Anyone’s initial read on the intro would be a clear criticism of the company, but producer Al Jean explained that it was all approved by Fox. He said in an interview with the New York Times today that the imagery was “fanciful” and “far-fetched” — “obviously, the animation to do this was pricey. I couldn’t have just snuck it by Fox. I’ll just say it’s a place where edgy comedy can really thrive, as long as it’s funny, which I think this was. None of it’s personal. This is what made ‘The Simpsons’ what it is.” This makes things extremely problematic and confusing. Based on his work, I would imagine Banksy’s concept was a critique – but what of the studio’s implementation? Is this “edgy comedy,” have they subverted subversion?
I’m posting multiple links because these things always get pulled from youtube: