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Animated satire and collective memory: reflecting on the American “history wars” with The Simpsons

Abstract
Driven by the knowledge that how societies remember their past matters in the present, the field of collective memory studies has paid significant attention to the media’s role in contributing to the production of socially shared representations of history. The genre of satire, however, has so far remained largely neglected. My paper addresses this gap and argues that, compared to other forms of media, satire not only adds to the production of memories, but it also offers distinct rhetorical techniques to encourage audiences to reflect on the construction and maintenance of collective memories. I develop the argument about satire’s memory-reflexive function through a case study of how The Simpsons – by deploying the fictional persona of Jebediah Springfield as a metaphor of the Founding Fathers – critically comments on America’s hyper-polarized “history wars” between conservatives and liberals. I argue that animated satire is a particularly powerful vehicle for reflection on collective memory, not only because it subverts audience expectations, but also because the unlimited storytelling potential of animation makes it possible to imitate the politics of collective remembering with a high degree of realism.
Type
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Series
Citation
Date
2023-09-13
Publisher
Walter de Gruyter GmbH
Degree
Supervisors
Rights
© 2023. This work is licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence.