Did the Simpsons sell out?

Ben Adler is disappointed that the Simpsons movie isn't as liberal as the show used to be. I think that a) he's misremembering the show, and b) he's got an odd take on the movie. He doesn't provide a lot of examples to back up his contention that Simpsons have "sold out,"* and the ones he does provide don't hold a lot of water. Click past the jump (by which I mean, click "Read More") to see some spoileriffic rejoinders.

1. Lisa is no more of a busybody than she was in the show, and she gets a typically cool response from the shortsighted Springfieldians. Even the lady who owes her slams the door in her face. Typical yellow trash.

2. Despite this, Lisa nearly saves Springfield. If it weren't for Homer, the town would never have been en-domed.

3. Mr. Adler objects to the EPA chief being made the villain rather than, say, the Sec Def. But I don't think he'd mind if the movie had poked fun at a specific EPA chief (such as Christie Whitman). There is simply no reason to think that an EPA chief in a (Simpsons version of a) Governator administration would be an actual environmentalist. In fact, Cargil admits he's only in it for the power.

4. With regards to the plan to blow up Springfield, he writes:
Obviously it is meant to be hyperbolic. But the irony may be lost on the average viewer.

Um, aren't we talking about a Simpsons movie, here?

5. This is where we really disagree, however.
But don't expect to leave the theatre feeling that the film did something larger, something the show so often did in its heyday: using over the top comedy to tell the truth about the real world.

I know that feeling: I get it when watching the Daily Show, sometimes. But I almost never got that feeling from the Simpsons. It was mostly throwaway gags at anyone's expense. If anything, the pervasive social critique was, basically, that people are dumb, yo.

In closing, however, I will present my favorite political joke from the show:

KRUSTY [in the voting booth]: Well, Sideshow Bob did try to kill me... but I'm aching for that upper-class tax cut!

* In fairness, Mr. Adler didn't use the phrase "sell out" in the column. It's in the headline, but I don't know if he writes the headlines.

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