Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent through American Popular Culture

By Timothy M. Dale; Joseph J. Foy | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION
Tuning in to Democratic Dissent:
Oppositional Messaging in Popular Culture

Joseph J. Foy

The Simpsons has never shied away from politics. In the seventh episode of its twentieth season, entitled “Mypods and Boomsticks,” Bart befriends a young Muslim boy named Bashir whose family has just moved to Springfield from Jordan. Bashir is polite, friendly, and easygoing, but Bart is afraid that his differences will make him a prime target for bullying. Sure enough, when the two run into Dolph, Kearney, and Jimbo, three of Springfield Elementary’s notoriously bad eggs, they immediately try to attack Bashir for being Muslim (and for “being the reason [Kearney] can’t take toothpaste on an airplane”). The politics of the playground extends to the barflies at Moe’s Tavern, as Lenny, Karl, and Moe convince Homer that Bart’s new friend is part of a terrorist family looking to destroy America. After seeing Jack Bauer torture a Muslim terror suspect on an episode of 24, Homer is convinced and lays a trap to try to uncover their plot. Through a series of paranoid misunderstandings, Homer thinks that Bashir’s father is going to attempt to blow up the Springfield Mall. He races to the rescue but ends up thwarting a planned demolition of the old mall and destroys a newly constructed bridge to the Duff Brewery in the process.1

“Mypods and Boomsticks” was quickly praised by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for its willingness to take on anti-Islamic attitudes and paranoia in the United States and for depicting the respect for difference that is necessary in a multicultural society.2 The episode will undoubtedly join the ranks of other classic political ones taking on the debates related to homophobia (“Homer’s Phobia” and “There’s Something about Marrying”), medical marijuana (“Weekend at Burnsies”), gun ownership (“The Cartridge Family”), religion (“Lisa the Skeptic” and “The Monkey

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