I started writing a reply to rainbowdashcrash's post about how Stories Matter earlier this week, and my response got so long that I didn't post it and decided I should write my own thing rather than threadjack. I wanted to tell a story about a few male friends at work whom I am reasonably close with, and how they said something the other day that really pissed me off. They said the Simpsons is a guy show.
Is this a thing that people think? Because I feel like it's generally rare for me to find anyone of any gender in their late 20s - 30s who doesn't dearly love the Simpsons for the role it played in their childhood.
So let me backtrack. Here's how the conversation went down: We were all talking about how the Simpsons hasn't been funny in at least a decade. Guy A says it's because they've gone on some sort of a feminist bent. This was not my favorite statement. After a few more comments, I said something to the effect of the Simpsons always leaning feminist, and the issue being that they're just not being funny about it anymore. They both rolled their eyes at me, and said that the feminist humor is clearly alienating their target audience, which is males aged 10-30. When I responded incredulously, they were surprised that I didn't agree. They had two main points.
1) Homer and Bart are the main characters, who are men. Lisa and Marge are clearly supporting characters and are not as funny (a point that I agree with). Guy B also decided he'd "throw in Milhouse", which is a comment I ignored. I countered that women can easily relate to male characters and are used to doing so because the majority of all media includes male main characters, whereas the reverse is for some reason considered unacceptable. (Hint: the reason is sexism.) I don't believe they ever responded to this, but moved on to:
2) They insisted the Simpsons was fart joke type humor. That is not what I think of when I think of the Simpsons. So Guy A asks what the top jokes/quotes are that I think of when I think of the Simpsons. I listed a bunch, none of which were fart jokes.* One was "Everything's coming up Milhouse!" which caused Guy B to repeat his earlier remark that I was trying to ignore. I brought up the episode with talking Malibu Stacy, which is an episode I've always loved. Lionheart Lisa was a feminist criticism of harmful stereotypes that we feed our children. And it was funny.
Guy A insisted that the episode was there to "throw women a bone", along with the one or two episodes with romantic plots. (And I didn't bring it up at the time, but how many early Simpsons episodes revolved around Homer and Marge's relationship? The answer is a lot.) Ugh, come on. The romantic plot thing? Like that's the only story women want to hear and they can't appreciate anything else? When I said this, they both shrugged, and Guy A mentioned that I wasn't a "typical girl". I really hate that.
Am I being oversensitive here? Both these guys are good people who'd give you the shirts off their backs, and I enjoy spending time with them. Guy B and I spend a lot of time quoting Arrested Development and Archer at each other. Guy A has actually done a lot to encourage women getting into STEM fields.
Officially, I've dropped it. None of us has brought up the conversation since it ended, and life goes on as usual. But it's still bugging me. I just hate the pervasive idea that women want one kind of story and men want another.
*I could go off on a huge tangent here listing some of my favorite jokes, but that's not the point of this post, so I won't. I will leave this here though: