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).
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: