2008 is an election year and the first week of January saw its first caucus. There were two implications of holding the Iowa Caucus on the third day of the new year. First, it was historic in its propelling to the top of the heap for the first time an African-American male. Secondly, it was the beginning of a media blitz that will climax in November but that will certainly have a peak on Super Tuesday, Feb. 5.
The news station for which I work is gearing up for an all-out assault of coverage on par with what will be an onslaught of national media attention on state-to-state primaries leading up to the big Nov. 4 election day. And I'm sure it will include all the up-to-the-minute information, live reports, analysis, and all the pomp and circumstance that's so ripe for ridicule.
On Sunday, Jan. 6, FOX aired a new episode of The Simpsons. In it, the fictional town of Springfield announced that it was moving its primary to go before that of New Hampshire. What follows is a political process and a media saturation for which the townsfolk are not prepared.
In many ways dissimilar and quite opposite to the way HBO's series The Wire is now attacking the Baltimore Sun, the writers of FOX's hit animated show caricature the news' handling of these events with the intensity and ferocity that are times overwhelming and unnecessary using broad farce, even mocking print journalism as a dying medium because it can't act with the pageantry-making spectacle as TV and Internet can. Yet, this is probably the best critique I've seen so far.
Besides being a perfect parody of political pundits and the news outlets that prop and parade them, the Jan. 6 episode also took shots at both the Republican and Democratic parties. In one scene, Lisa Simpson questions an action as being unconstitutional to which her brother Bart replies, "The Constitution? The Patriot Act killed that!" In another, a meeting of locals in the Springfield Democratic Party is led by a gay Latino who whines and talks more about the holes in the jeans he's wearing rather than the issues.
Even after having to band together to knock out a feature film this past summer that became a hit and will probably be an Oscar contender, the writers and produces of The Simpsons prove why their show has lasted now 19 years. The writing is sharp, fresh and always captures the zeitgeist of America so amazingly.
And, what they capture is a public that is sick of the pandering politicians, the pandering media, the grandiosity that all of them take, the nonsensical nature of it that pervades most times. This episode titled "E Pluribus Wiggum" is a great commentary on it.
Five Stars out of Five.
Sundays at 8 p.m. on FOX
Replays on FOX.com