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Banksy makes news with The Simpsons opening

Sunday night’s The Simpsons had an unusual opening. It had the normal intro with the family crashing into the living room to watch TV, but the opening extended into a dark depiction of sweatshops and environmentally unsafe working conditions for those who produce the animation. Very much a hand bitting the hand that feeds it message. The intro was created by Banksy – an English artist most notable for his socially conscience art on walls (some call it graffiti).

From Yahoo TV:

According to the Guardian, Banksy’s involvement marks the first time “The Simpsons” has solicited the work of an artist unconnected to the show. And though “Simpsons” executive producer Al Jean’s comment on the disturbing sequence was, “This is what you get when you outsource,” he and his colleagues had to have known that Banksy couldn’t help delivering something subversive. Banksy ? who recently reached a wider audience with last summer’s documentary “Exit Through the Gift Shop” ? is known for making controversial statements with his work, which most frequently involves stenciling public buildings all over the world. (Indeed, the very medium in which he works is hotly debated, with some critics regarding it as vandalism.) Banksy even once infiltrated the Louvre to hang one of his paintings, which mimicked the “Mona Lisa” with a yellow smiley face in place of the original visage. (TheDailyWh.at blog also notes that this is not the first time Banksy has addressed “The Simpsons” in his work, recalling a mural he created in New Orleans in 2008.)

The opening also joins a long tradition of “Simpsons” producers mocking their corporate masters. There have been countless jokes over the years about the moral bankruptcy of Fox programming and the evil genius of Rupert Murdoch, founder of Fox parent company News Corp. However, this instance pushed the show’s self-mockery to a new level: BBC News reports that, according to Banksy, “His storyboard led to delays, disputes over broadcast standards and a threatened walk out by the animation department.”

Here’s the opening:

Community Comments

#1 Ted Rall
October/12/2010
@ 9:27 am

It’s slave pandatastic!

#2 Charles Brubaker
October/12/2010
@ 9:34 am

Reminds me of a gag from “Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie”, which depicted the Korean animators working in a sweatshop while being pointed with guns. Apparently the real-life animators at Rough Draft (the Korean studio that does the animation on the Simpsons) were insulted and initially refused to animate the scene.

#3 Kelly McNutt
October/12/2010
@ 9:41 am

That’s outrageous.

Everybody knows no one inks and paints by hand anymore.

#4 Howard Tayler
October/12/2010
@ 10:22 am

I want one of those dolphin-head tape dispensers.

#5 Scott Nickel
October/12/2010
@ 11:28 am

I need something smaller for my office. Do they make a mini-baby seal-head tape dispenser?

#6 Dave Stephens
October/12/2010
@ 11:31 am

Critics “regard” it as vandalism? Huh? “Regard?” The whole POINT is that it IS vandalism. If the greatest artist in the world paints the greatest art on MY building without my permission, and I catch him in the act, I have caught a man engaged in vandalism…

#7 Pete McDonnell
October/12/2010
@ 11:52 am

The Rough Draft people were probably insulted that American TV audiences were going to confuse a South Korean animation studio with a North Korean ferilizer factory.

Where did they get that CD-hole-punching unicorn?

#8 Kelly Ferguson
October/12/2010
@ 12:09 pm

This reminds me of one of my all-time favorite cartoon sequences. It’s from “Clerks: The Animated Series” which also made reference to Korean animation studios.

#9 John Lotshaw
October/12/2010
@ 1:53 pm

“Oh, no! Bear is driving! How can that be?!?”

Yeah, I thought of that as I watched it, too.

#10 Corey Pandolph
October/12/2010
@ 3:32 pm

Alan, can you add an “ignore” button, just for Dave Stephens?

Sincerely,

Fake Rockstar

#11 Dave Stephens
October/12/2010
@ 3:57 pm

Poor Corey – reading my comments is painful for you? LOL

So sorry about that – just set your brain to “chill” and toss a few beers down and I guarantee you’ll feel better!

Hmmm… What beer goes best with snark?

#12 Tom Wood
October/12/2010
@ 4:03 pm

From the article:

According to the Guardian, Banksy?s involvement marks the first time ?The Simpsons? has solicited the work of an artist unconnected to the show.

So, Ted, Corey, the rest of you opinionated toonsters… The door is cracked open.

#13 Mark_Tatulli
October/12/2010
@ 7:31 pm

Hiding “unpopular” comments to keep people from seeing them is like pouring sugar on a picnic to keep the ants away

#14 John Cole
October/13/2010
@ 7:18 am

Please like my comment.

#15 Rick Stromoski
October/13/2010
@ 8:35 am

>>>If the greatest artist in the world paints the greatest art on MY building without my permission, and I catch him in the act, I have caught a man engaged in vandalism?

When I lived in Los Angeles in the eighties there was a “guerilla artist” by the name of Robbie Conal who did much the same the same thing. He called them “Art attacks” but what they actually were were these 9×12 posters plastered over every available public light post, electrical box, street sign, mailbox, traffic junction box and phone booth in Venice, Santa monica, West LA and Culver city. They were poorly drawn portraits of politicians with trite sayings like a pic of Reagan and the words “Contra Diction”. he’d organize large groups of his fellow guerillas and in the dead of night, plaster thousands of these things everywhere using a particularly stubborn industrial strength glue so you couldn’t remove the posters without significant effort and solvents. Most people didn’t bother trying to remove them over a month’s time they’d deteriorate in the sun and rain and eventually just left a residue of bleached tattered paper shards and glue on every sirface these things were posted..and they were everywhere you looked.

some considered it a radical political statement but all it did was add to the visual blight that already permeated LA. …although I agreed with his politics, to me and most of the artist community I knew of considered him a vandal…and a first rate tw@t.

#16 Tom Wood
October/13/2010
@ 9:21 am

There’s a pretty extensive entry for graffiti at Wikipedia.

In Austin a friend did an art project that invited the local taggers to get involved. He worked with a building owner renovating the back of a building in an alley off Sixth Street. They invited the top taggers (there is a hierarchy) to add their work. It had the effect of preventing (for a while) the other taggers from tagging the building.

I think it would be an interesting experiment to designate and/or build some wall surfaces specifically for graffiti. Take pictures of it as it gets covered, then eventually whitewash it and start over. But that’s sanctioned art, which kinda goes against the whole ethic of danger.

#17 John Cole
October/13/2010
@ 1:36 pm

Whoa. Tough crowd.

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