Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Matt Groening

For merely creating Life in Hell, Matt Groening would have earned the eternal gratitude of the Pop Culture Institute; yet those koan-like drawings and their sharp dialogue were only the start... For creating The Simpsons, he's earned our slavish devotion as well, and that he could then complete the hat trick with anything as fine as Futurama has him well on his way to demigod status in our eyes...

PhotobucketAll of which leaves me wondering what's next for the Oregonian (born on this day in 1954) whose gentle manner and abundant imagination has populated all of our lives, mainly with dozens of outstandingly blunt - and therefore unforgettable - yellow people.

That the candy-coloured world of Springfield often conceals a bitter or bad-tasting flavour makes it not only trenchant satire but also gives the show the potential to change the world. Tell me my faults and I will tell you you're wrong; show me my faults and make me laugh at them and just maybe I'll change my ways. For all his affable demeanour and studied ordinariness, this seems to be the message at the core of Groening's art, and I know I prefer it to the myriad judgements of religion.

As it is, The Simpsons looks poised to run forever; short of the simultaneous death or dismissal of all of the show's major voices, it seems as though Groening has not so much crafted a sitcom as created a perpetual motion machine, one that must keep moving forward with a shark's grace, feeding at the shoals of the very pop culture it so deftly and humourously skewers.
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