I was back in the UK last week and stumbled across an episode of The Simpsons on TV.
I was a young boy when The Simpsons first burst onto our screens.
As a boy, my favourite character was of course Bart, a preference put to the test initially by the song “Do The Bartman”. As I have gotten older, my preference moved away from Bart and onto his useless father, Homer.
At the time, I enjoyed laughing at what I perceived to be the not so subtle sending up of the atypical lazy American father figure. Rather than presenting an idealised version of masculinity and fatherhood, Homer was a far more realistic character, presented as a Falstaff-esque fool, but written with warmth and emotional depth.
It was a very refreshing depiction.
However, as time has passed, rather than being a unique representation of masculinity and fatherhood, the rest of popular culture seems to have assumed Homer’s character traits as being the definition of the average father figure, rather than a parody.
Not only is this deeply unimaginative, but the character of Homer has suffered as a result. A little like the founder of any movement, as time goes by they no longer represent the new and imaginative, but instead end up representing the status quo and lazy.
I would go so far as to suggest that for The Simpsons to become interesting again, they should look to challenge the character of Homer. Rather than depicting him as a useful idiot, they should instead portray him as competent.
If they did this, they would break free from the conformist character mould of the Father figure, as they successfully did when they first created the character back in 1987.
Rather than being a complete buffoon, it would be truly unique to see the depiction of a father that resembled the ones I have met in my life. Hard working individuals that are trying, and succeeding, to be as good a husband and parent as possible.