My Facebook was ablaze last night with the Simpsons opening sequence as reimagined by UK street artist, Banksy. At the time of this posting, Fox has already shut down all the versions on YouTube, but in case you got out of bed really late today, I'll quote you an entire play-by-play from Feministe:
The video opens with the usual “The Simpsons” cloud animation, but this time featuring a bird flying by carrying one of Banksy’s signature rats in its mouth. The animation overlooks the nuclear facility, and centers on two town hooligans cutting the head off of a statue of Springfield’s founder; the head lands on Ralph Wiggum, who drops his ice cream cone. The animation pans upward, past the “Lard Land Donuts” boy, to Springfield Elementary School where Bart Simpson is writing “I must not write all over the walls” all over the walls. Then it’s to the nuclear facility, where Homer walks out beneath the “Three Days Without an Accident” sign with radioactive material stuck to his uniform, and then arrives home to the Simpson abode. The usual mishaps (Bart skateboarding by, Lisa biking, Marge pulling the car into the garage -- except this time she hits Homer) get the Simpson family onto the couch. Then the lights flicker, and the animation zooms out, and you see that the Simpsons are actually on a screen overlooking a sweatshop where dozens of female Asian workers are making Simpsons animation panels. The panels are handed off to a little barefoot boy in shabby clothes, who dips them in toxic chemicals before hanging them up to dry. Near the vat of toxic chemicals are stacks of human bones, being picked at by rats. Downstairs there are more workers pushing Simpson’s t-shirts around on racks, and below that there are even more workers throwing small animals (kittens? birds?) into some sort of shredder that expels stuffing, which is then put inside of Bart Simpson dolls, which are in turn placed into a wheelbarrow being hauled by a tired-looking panda bear. Next to the panda is a man boxing up the Simpsons merchandise in “Simpsons” boxes, sealing them by having the tongue of a dead dolphin lick the tape. The scene then shifts to a unicorn chained to the wall, its horn used to punch holes in Simpsons DVDs. It collapses from exhaustion, and the scene zooms out to the “20th Century Fox” logo rising above the prison-like sweatshop buildings.
I have to agree with Angry Asian Man here. I normally love the subversive nature of Banksy's work, and it's hard for me to say I don't like this. It's dark, and ridiculous. But I'm a little confused on the message.
The sequence takes place in an Asian sweatshop, and was apparently inspired by reports that the show outsources the bulk of their animation to animators in Seoul. I'm inclined to believe he's poking fun at our understanding of what goes on behind the scenes and I'm stretching to give him a pass on the animal cruelty stereotypes. (Come on, that dead dolphin head was so bad it was funny.)
But the creators of the Simpsons and Fox were obviously in on "the joke" here. So is it supposed to be funny, in a "Ha ha, we use cheap labor and exploit workers in Asian countries, isn't that hilarious" kind of way? Your thoughts?