Homer Simpson says he wont strangle Bart anymore: times have changed

The Simpsons has been on TV since December 17, 1989. That’s right. Taylor Swift is four days older than The Simpsons. Absolutely wild. A lot of things have changed over the last 34 years, and many of the jokes that were laughed at and accepted years ago are thankfully no longer okay or tolerated by society today. One of the longest-running gags on The Simpsons is dad Homer strangling his oldest son, Bart. Even if you’ve never seen an episode, you probably still know this pop culture reference because images of Homer strangling Bart have become memes and gifs to indicate frustration. Well, in the name of keeping up with the times, the showrunners of The Simpsons have decided they’re officially retiring that running joke.

In a recent episode titled “McMansion & Wife,” which aired on Oct. 22, Homer Simpson (Dan Castellaneta) met with his new neighbor Thayer (Hank Azaria), who noted that Homer had “quite a grip” as they shook hands.

“See, Marge, strangling the boy has paid off,” Homer quipped to his wife. “Just kidding. I don’t do that anymore.”

Homer then added with a smile, “Times have changed!”

Homer’s strangulation of his oldest child Bart (voiced by Nancy Cartwright) has been deployed for laughs since the show’s debut in 1989. (Homer has also been strangled himself — by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who played himself in a cameo during the season 22 episode “Love Is a Many Strangled Thing.”)

And although Homer only recently declared he wouldn’t throttle his 10-year-old toon son, the TV dad hasn’t actually done so in several years. According to IGN, Homer last strangled Bart on screen during the show’s 31st season, which aired from 2019 to 2020.

The Simpsons has had to reexamine some of its more problematic characterizations in recent years, most notably when its the Indian-American character Apu Nahasapeemapetilon (also formerly voiced by Azaria) drew criticism for its portrayal of negative stereotypes, even sparking the 2017 documentary The Problem with Apu.

Azaria, 59, later stepped down from the role in January 2020, noting that it was “the right thing” to do. The part has yet to be recast, with Apu only making background appearances in the years that followed.

“I really didn’t know any better,” Azaria said on the Armchair Expert podcast in April 2021, according The Guardian. “I didn’t think about it. I was unaware how much relative advantage I had received in this country as a white kid from Queens. Just because there were good intentions it doesn’t mean there weren’t real negative consequences to the thing that I am accountable for.”

It was also announced in February 2021 that the long-running character Dr. Hibbert, who is Black, would be recast with Kevin Michael Richardson after decades of being voiced by Harry Shearer, who is White.

[From People]

I’m glad that after all these years, they finally got there and acknowledged that even as a joke, depicting abuse is never funny. Was it tacky to announce it while still making a joke out of it or does that just give it closure? It took them too long to correct the problematic casting, though. That seems to be an issue that Hollywood is still having lingering trouble with. I’m giving a hard side-eye to the fact that they never recast Apu. I think the “I didn’t know better” excuse can be cringey, but I also try to allow space for genuine growth and progress because we’re all works in progress. Do better now.

But yes, times have changed. It can be tough to watch shows and movies from even a decade ago and not cringe from at least one problematic joke or storyline. I’ve really enjoyed some of the new entertainment geared towards Gen Z, which are more diverse and body positive. I love that they demand better and we’re starting to see that reflect in new TV shows, books, and movies being made now.

Took them long enough lmao pic.twitter.com/JuHyNu1eiK

— Simon A. (Baby Lamb Creations) (@BabyLamb5) November 2, 2023

Images are screenshots from Youtube

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