An Analysis of Black Humor in the Movie The Simpsons


大陆桥视野·下 2016年9期


[Abstract]Black humor is widely applied in literature, drama, and film. This paper, through analyzing the theme, plot, and stereotypes of The Simpsons, aims to make a research of black humor and its application in this movie in order to facilitate the understanding of the movie and present its significance on modern society.

[Key Words]black humor; The Simpsons; stereotype


Black humor refers to grotesque or morbid humor used to express the absurdity, insensitivity, paradox, and cruelty of the modern world and is widely used in literature, drama and film. The Simpsons is a very popular animation series that has a long-lasting influence on American people, which depicts the unpleasant and even ugly social problems largely through sarcasm and irony.

2.Analysis of Black Humor in The Simpsons

2.1The Theme---- Redemption of Anti-hero

Homer Simpson is depicted as a lazy, reckless and irresponsible man, anything but a traditional hero. The tragedy of Springfield starts when he brings the pig home but does not dispose of the excrement of the pig properly. Instead he dumps the silo right in the lake, which is instantly polluted. Homer intends to start a new life in Alaska, however his family leaves him in deep guilt. Homer, abandoned by all, is forced to go back to Springfield. The fact that the man who ruined Springfield comes back to its rescue is in nature ironic, because the redemption is not made voluntarily, but instead forced out of no option.

2.2 The Plot ---- Bitter Sarcasm on Brutal Reality

The story of The Simpsons revolves around pollution of the lake. In the beginning, the music band Green Day is warmly welcomed by the audience for their performance, but when they want to draw attention to the environment, the audience swerves into hate which is a clear reflection on the social reality: people entertain themselves at the price of the environment.

2.3 Stereotypes ----Discrimination and Social Injustice

Stereotypes are the perceptions or beliefs we hold about groups or individuals based on previously formed opinions and attitudes (Samovar and Porter, Communication Between Cultures 1991, p.280). The Simpsons has also successfully presented some common stereotypes. One example is when Lisa explains the severity of pollution of Springfield at the city hall and the mayor declares the situation “code black”, a citizen says: “Black! Its the worst color!” and a black man next to him replies “I get that a lot”. Racial discrimination against black people in America is deep rooted.


This paper intends to analyze the black humor in the movie The Simpsons through its theme, plot and stereotypes so the audience would understand better the cultural and social implications in this movie.


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