How Has Ted Cruz So Thoroughly Misunderstood The Simpsons?

Yesterday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, the junior United States Senator from Texas (in the Senate) and supposedly avid fan of such institutional works of popular film and television as The Simpsons and The Princess Bride, said, “The Democrats are the party of Lisa Simpson and Republicans are happily the party of Homer, Bart, Maggie and Marge.” How did Ted Cruz so thoroughly misread his favorite show as to come to this interpretation, and more to the point, how did he think this interpretation would reflect badly on the Democrats?

(It should be noted before we begin that I’ve seen maybe 15-20 Simpsons episodes ever.)


DECEMBER 17, 1989

{TED CRUZ, recently returned HOME for WINTER BREAK from his SOPHOMORE YEAR at PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, sits down on the FLOOR of his LIVING ROOM, watching the PREMIERE of a NEW SHOW he has NO IDEA will CHANGE THE FACE OF AMERICAN POPULAR CULTURE OVER THE NEXT THIRTY YEARS…}

TED CRUZ
Jiminy Cricket! This show I am watching, The Simpsons, is great! I should tell all my friends at Princeton University, where I am a sophomore, about it!

{We hear AUDIO from the show.}

SMITHERS
Attention all personnel. Please keep working during the following announcement. {Beat.}  And now, our boss and friend, Mr. Burns.

MR. BURNS
Hello. I’m proud to announce that we’ve been able to increase safety here at the power plant without increasing the cost to the consumer or affecting management pay raises. However, for you semi-skilled workers, there will be no Christmas bonuses. Oh, and one more thing: Merry Christmas.

TED CRUZ
This scene, and indeed this whole episode, in no way serves as an indictment of the ruinous avarice of corporate capitalism nor the soul-sucking impositions it makes upon the captive majority forced for their survival to lubricate its inhuman machinery with their sweat, tears, and blood! Instead, it scathingly critiques pesky and overburdening federal safety regulations, without which Burns would not be forced to choose between his consumers and his employees! It’s like this show was made for me, Ted Cruz!


DECEMBER 20, 1990

{TED CRUZ, recently returned HOME for WINTER BREAK from his JUNIOR YEAR at PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, sits down on the FLOOR of his LIVING ROOM, watching the NINTH EPISODE of the SECOND SEASON of The Simpsons, TITLED “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge”. 

IN this EPISODE, MAGGIE is INFLUENCED by the VIOLENT CARTOON “The Itchy & Scratchy Show” to commit VIOLENCE against HOMER.}

TED CRUZ
Unwilling or unable to exercise critical thought, Maggie unthinkingly apes the predominant influences of her environment, no matter how harmful or destructive. Clearly, she is a Republican.

{Later IN this EPISODE, MARGE successfully PETITIONS to REMOVE the VIOLENCE from “The Itchy & Scratchy Show”, prompting the CHILDREN of SPRINGFIELD to GO OUTSIDE and ENRICH THEMSELVES. It is UTOPIAN, until the UPTIGHT PARENTS of SPRINGFIELD express OUTRAGE at the DISPLAY of Michelangelo’s NUDE statue DAVID in the TOWN, which PROMPTS MARGE to ABANDON HER PROTESTS of “Itchy & Scratchy”. 

We hear AUDIO from the SCENE in which MARGE appears ON the show SMARTLINE to DISCUSS the MATTER.} 

GUY CALLING IN TO THE SHOW FROM THE PARTHENON, I DON’T KNOW HIS NAME
How can you be for one form of expression, like our naked friend, and be against another form, like Itchy & Scratchy?

KENT BROCKMAN
Good question.

MARGE SIMPSON
Good question. Well, I guess I can’t, which is a shame because I really hate those cartoons.

PARTHENON GUY AGAIN
Oh, yeah? Well, what do you say to those out there who wish to suppress David ‘s doodle?

MARGE SIMPSON
Hmm… I don’t know. I guess… one person can make a difference… but most of the time, they probably shouldn’t.

TED CRUZ
Too true. The concept of freedom of speech is the sole and absolute determinant of what is acceptable to transmit in our media, such that there is no point in challenging the social norms that shape what we, as a culture, decide is acceptable for consumption at any particular age. I’m glad that Marge has realized and accepted this, rather than use the clear and quantifiable deleterious effects of television (particularly violent television) upon the youth of Springfield to challenge the norms that make the transmission of such images to children acceptable. It’s like we conservative Republicans say: no change is possible in the world!


OCTOBER 1, 1992

{TED CRUZ sits down in his WASHINGTON, D.C. BACHELOR PAD to WATCH the SEASON 4 EPISODE “A Streetcar Named Marge”. IN this EPISODE, MARGE REALIZES, through her ROLE as BLANCHE DUBOIS in a LOCAL PRODUCTION of A Streetcar Named Desire, that HOMER’S GASLIGHTING, NEGLECT, EMOTIONAL ABUSE, and ALCOHOLISM constitute a PATTERN of ABUSE. AFTER the PLAY, HOWEVER, MARGE quickly FORGIVES HOMER for EVERYTHING, even though he has CLEARLY learned NOTHING.}

TED CRUZ
As in “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge”, Marge has sought to assert her independence to change her own or her community’s station for the better, only to eventually acquiesce to the demands of a (usually male) actor to maintain the status quo. She is the perfect Republican wife, suppressing her own inner life in order to serve the needs and desires of the men around her.

{Meanwhile, MAGGIE ORCHESTRATES an UPRISING against the OPPRESSIVE ADMINISTRATION of the AYN RAND SCHOOL FOR TOTS.}

TED CRUZ
This subplot provides undeniable proof that Maggie is a Republican.


NOVEMBER 19, 1992

{TED CRUZ sits down in his WASHINGTON, D.C. BACHELOR PAD to WATCH the SEASON 4 EPISODE “Mr. Plow”. He GETS to the SCENE where HOMER imagines WHAT he could DO with a SNOWPLOW, which includes BULLDOZING PROTESTERS off the WHITE HOUSE LAWN at the BEHEST of REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH.}

TED CRUZ
All right, Homer! That’s what real Republicans do: ignore any and all protests and dispel them by force. Clearly Homer is a Republican, and clearly this scene has nothing negative to say about the character or his actions.


JANUARY 14, 1993

{TED CRUZ sits down in his WASHINGTON, D.C. BACHELOR PAD to WATCH the SEASON 4 EPISODE “Marge vs. The Monorail”, which is often REGARDED as the GREATEST EPISODE in the HISTORY of The Simpsons. Unfortunately, I haven’t actually SEEN this EPISODE yet, so I must RESORT to SPECULATION as to its NATURE.

(FUN FACT: this was the FIRST EPISODE to AIR after I was BORN!)} 

TED CRUZ (probably)
That was an atrocious episode.


FEBRUARY 18, 1996

{TED CRUZ is WATCHING the SEASON 7 EPISODE “Lisa the Iconoclast”, in which LISA DISCOVERS a TERRIBLE SECRET about JEBEDIAH SPRINGFIELD, the founder of the FICTIONAL TOWN of SPRINGFIELD in which The Simpsons is SET, but OPTS at the LAST SECOND NOT to INFORM the TOWNSFOLK about his CHECKERED PAST.

We hear some AUDIO from the SHOW.}

LISA SIMPSON
The myth of Jebediah has value too. It’s brought out the best in everyone in this town. Regardless of who said it, a noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.

TED CRUZ
Lisa Simpson uncovered an awful truth that totally recontextualizes the legacy of a prominent historical figure, and then opted to suppress it so that Springfield would not lose an aspirational myth. Clearly, she is a Democrat. No Republican would even think to explore the predominant narrative surrounding a major historical figure; instead, he would accept it without question. On an unrelated note, Ronald Reagan was America’s greatest president.


APRIL 14, 1996

{TED CRUZ is WATCHING the SEASON 7 EPISODE “22 Short Films About Springfield”. He REACHES the STEAMED HAMS SCENE—you KNOW, the ONE the WHOLE INTERNET has been HAVING a FIELD DAY WITH recently, with REMIXES like THIS ONE?

We hear AUDIO from the SHOW.}

SUPERINTENDENT CHALMERS
Well, Seymour, you are an odd fellow—but I must say, you steam a good ham.

AGNES SKINNER
Help! Heeeelllpppp!

{We don’t see the screen, so this bit is rather out of context if you haven’t seen this episode, since you’re missing the bit where Chalmers turns back suspiciously at Skinner’s burning house only for Skinner to flash him a thumbs-up and an insincere smile and oh you know what never mind.}

TED CRUZ
Gosh, Chalmers is such a moron. I, Ted Cruz, can’t believe Democrats want people like him in charge of our public schools. That is, after all, the clear and obvious subtext of this scene. Golly, this show offers such a scathing criticism of American liberalism!


EPILOGUE

JAMUARY 37, 1Q9X (e.g. any date in the twenty-odd years after that last episode but before CPAC 2018, doesn’t matter)

{TED CRUZ sits down in a PLACE. As it is NOT a NIGHT when The Simpsons is ON, he must MAKE DO with other SOURCES for his ENTERTAINMENT. He HAS at HAND a COPY of CONSERVATIVE HUMORIST P.J. O’ROURKE’s Parliament of Whores, and is READING ALOUD from IT.}

TED CRUZ (quoting P.J. O’ROURKE)
“I have only one firm belief about the American political system, and that is this: God is a Republican and Santa Claus is a Democrat.

“God is an elderly or, at any rate, middle aged male, a stern fellow, patriarchal rather than paternal and a great believer in rules and regulations. He holds men accountable for their actions. He has little apparent concern for the material well being of the disadvantaged. He is politically connected, socially powerful and holds the mortgage on literally everything in the world. God is difficult. God is unsentimental. It is very hard to get into God’s heavenly country club.

“Santa Claus is another matter. He’s cute. He’s nonthreatening. He’s always cheerful. And he loves animals. He may know who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, but he never does anything about it. He gives everyone everything they want without the thought of quid pro quo. He works hard for charities, and he’s famously generous to the poor. Santa Claus is preferable to God in every way but one: There is no such thing as Santa Claus.”

{TED CRUZ CLOSES the BOOK, LAUGHING.}

TED CRUZ
Ha! What a clever bit of rhetoric, describing the American political landscape through analogies to mythic figures from our popular culture. Not only that, its underlying argument, that Republicans appear sterner in their politics because they are the only party grounded in reality, is clear and easy to grasp—and not only not only that, the dichotomy in question is sure never to change or be reevaluated, whether because of shifting attitudes towards gender, wealth, or class structures; increasing evidence from abroad that government can do more to support and elevate its citizens than we ever dreamed; or substantial transformation in the ideals and viewpoints of the two political parties. After all, like I said a while ago, no change is possible in the world!

{TED CRUZ sighs.}

TED CRUZ
Maybe one day I, Ted Cruz, can express the differences between Democrats and Republicans in such a pithy and culturally relatable way as P.J. O’Rourke has. Perhaps I’ll use my favorite television show, The Simpsons, whose characters reflect a political distinction between Democrats and Republicans every bit as clear-cut and favorable to we Republicans as God and Santa Claus! And since The Simpsons will inevitably be as relevant in 2018 as it is in 1Q9X, it’s sure to be a hit!

 

———— FIN ————

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