The Perception of the American Way of Life through the TV Serial „The Simpsons“

Cultural analysis of the episode "Mypods and Broomsticks"

Term Paper, 2011

18 Pages, Grade: 1,3



1. Introduction

2. An Analysis of the Perception and the Prejudices Against the Americans which One Gains While Watching the Episode “Mypods and Boomsticks”
2 a. Cultural Stereotypes as Shared Narratives of Identity
2 b. Cognitive and Emotional Effects of the Intertextuality of (Narrative) Stereotypes in “Mypods and Boomsticks”

3. Conclusion

4. Works Cited


1. Introduction

Our perception of the world is consequently influenced by the media. As many television programs, films and series are from America or at least influenced by American television, it is important for us to know, how the Americans represent themselves and others in those television productions.

The country which is producing a television broadcast is mostly representing itself with all the good characteristics which can be presented. Often stereotypes are exaggerated depicted and other countries are only displayed from the point of view of the producing country.

In this term paper I will explain, how “The Simpsons” influence our perception of the Americans and their way of life. Many stereotypes are represented without being necessarily recognized while watching the episodes of The Simpsons.

Apart from that many people think that what they see at the TV is true. They never question the authenticity of what is presented in shows, films or other programs and so they believe in the represented stereotypes. This is also a way of how those stereotypes and prejudices of different cultures are distributed throughout the world.

The episode “Mypods and Boomsticks” (Season 20, episode 7) is a good example to show how the Americans see themselves and different cultures and how we are influenced by their point of view and often believe in what we see or what we are told by them.

First of all I will discuss the cultural stereotypes represented in this episode and I will show why we understand them all, even if we do not share the points of view of the characters in the episode because of our cultural background.

Secondly I will concentrate on the effect, which the episode has on the people watching it. It leaves different impressions and even if one does not share the opinion of the characters in The Simpsons they influence us in our thinking and behavior.

Apart from that I will give examples of how our life, which we probably share with many different cultures in a global society as ours, is influenced by the prejudices and our perception of the episodes of the Simpsons.

The conclusion summarizes the prejudices and stereotypes presented in “Mypods and Boomsticks” and shortly explains again the effect they have on the people watching this episode.

2. An Analysis of the Perception and the Prejudices Against the Americans which One Gains While Watching the Episode “Mypods and Boomsticks”

Many different ways of perceiving films and series are possible, dependent on the opinion of something that a person developed before and the circumstances of his or her life. Often one´s own culture shown and represented at the TV is understandable and the perception someone with a different cultural background has of one´s own culture is not comprehendible.

We have many prejudices against the Americans and their way of life. Starting at the American Dream, which was obviously a fairy-tale and for many people it did not become reality, we think Americans are credent.

Going further, America nevertheless developed to a country with the most power and influence in the world. We think most of the Americans are therefore not really decent and show that they are most influential and moreover ignore other countries, which have not achieved and developed as much as America did.

Very currently there is also the problem between Americans and the Moslem society, so with countries where the majority of the population is Moslem. Americans seem to be not tolerant enough to accept people who think differently or they assume that everyone who has such a cultural and religious background is dangerous and has to be discriminated. Moreover The Simpsons may also criticize people who are not as strictly religious as for example Ned Flanders is. He as the typical Christian American “involves himself in policing the culture in which he lives” (Heit 2008: 89)), thinking that someone could offend God.

Often we realize that our opinion of Americans is confirmed while watching The Simpsons. The characters are presented as typical Americans who behave as we assume Americans to do in real life.

Apart from that we are provided with more stereotypes and prejudices. Often things we do not think about are a relevant topic in an episode of The Simpsons. For instance contains the episode “Mypods and Boomsticks” not only the question of how Moslems are seen in America but also the question of how technology is important for the Americans and how people do not realize to which extent they are dependent on it.

2 a. Cultural Stereotypes as Shared Narratives of Identity

The episode “Mypods and Boomsticks” starts with the Simpsons family in the shopping mall and Christmas is shown as the most important feast for the economic system. They realize (watching reindeers being destroyed) that they do not really celebrate Christmas because of true beliefs but because of the presents. The next important feast is also noticeable. It will be the Martin Luther King Day, which also seems to be celebrated because of the earnings which the shops intend. Even the Reverend who seems to be interested in the children that come to him suddenly runs away as he hears that he has lunch break.

The most important aspect is that the Simpsons came to the mall to bring one Christmas present each back. This is a “deal” they seem to have because no one should be hurt if someone gives a present back.

This scene shows the typical stereotype American family because the blank holidays are only important because of the free time and the presents. The presents are bought near-term so they are not personal or carrying a message. The aim of the shopping mall and the people support it (like the Santa Clauses carried away and treated rude but accepting all of it) is money and not the real pleasure and satisfaction of the customers.

This shows the American as people for who wealth and status is most important. They know that they are influential and have many customers for their products or inventions and try the best they can to be more rich but not really to satisfy their clients.

This is also shown in the new “Mapple” store where products have a high status because they are made by a specific company. A shop assistant tells Homer that he has to ask the “Mycube” what he can do for it, normally it is vice versa and a product has to be helpful for a person. Homer even folds his hands as if he is praying when he talks to the Mycube. The whole shop seems to be a symbol for the American products which are popular all over the world and which are admired in many countries but often so expensive that the people cannot afford them (like Lisa who is not even able to buy earphones by Mapple). Later on Homer tells Marge that he can say whatever he wants to say because America is the wealthiest country for at least the next few years. “In our Western culture, we often place our hope in personal achievement, and the magical combination of money, fame and power that has come to define good life” (William et. al. 2002: 170). The quotation shows the importance of money and power for the Western society. We can identify with the stereotypes presented. Moreover money and wealth is often seen as the path to happiness.


Excerpt out of 18 pages


The Perception of the American Way of Life through the TV Serial „The Simpsons“
Cultural analysis of the episode "Mypods and Broomsticks"
Justus-Liebig-University Giessen  (Anglistik)
Literature and Culture
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
843 KB
simpsons, usa, television, stereotypes, culture
Quote paper
Anastasia Wolter (Author), 2011, The Perception of the American Way of Life through the TV Serial „The Simpsons“, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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