Carl Matheson analyzes how The Simpsons uses quotationalism and hyper-ironism in describing and criticizing modern life. Quotationalism refers to quoting popular culture symbols or languages, while hyper-ironism is about…
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He gives the example of the episode, “A Streetcar Named Marge.” The episode uses allusions to A Streetcar Named Desire, Ayn Rand, The Great Escape, and Hitchcock’s The Birds. Matheson argues that these allusions are not for satire, but to capture deep meanings and to connect them to the story and the characters. These allusions are successful in keeping the humor tight and meaningful in The Simpsons. Apart from quotationalism, hyper-ironism shows the bleak humor of the show. Matheson asserts that modern society has “a pervasive crisis of authority,” which the show also describes through its undercutting of moral positions, including its own cynicism. He says that hyper-ironism is present in how The Simpsons attacks itself for its lack of strong and clear moral values and direction. Matheson argues that The Simpsons is funny because of its combination of quotationalism and hyper-ironism that see the society as it is, filled with cold and lost people trying to hang on to traditional values while adapting new ones.
Walter Benjamin provides a general history of the evolution of art. He asserts that changes in the economic structure have created changes in art. Like the economic structure, art is losing its essence, or “aura,” the inner force that comes from art’s uniqueness. He argues that mechanical reproduction has destroyed art by reinforcing oppressive socioeconomic systems.
Benjamin explores the loss of art in the modern mechanical age. His first main point is that technology removes the purity of art. Technology makes art reproducible or mass-produced, which destroys art’s aura. Aura is lost in mass production because authenticity cannot be reproduced as it leads to the lost authority of the original maker. His second point is that art is as oppressive as the economic structure. Art is oppressive because it puts the masses in their controlled position, as they consume symbols and images that protect
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