Pictured Deb Foote (right) with her partner Amy Booth at the Simpsons panel. Photo by Andrew Davis
Although tabloids make it seem like Jessica and Ashlee are the only prominent Simpsons who exist, it was a certain animated family with the same surname that was the focus in a packed room at The Chicago Cultural Center in December. A panel of noted academics headlined 'The Simpsons: Cultural Criticism and America's Favorite TV Family.'
Participants included Deb Foote, a lecturer in Columbia College's Department of Liberal Education; Raja Halwani, an associate professor in the Department of Liberal Arts and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; and William Savage of Northwestern University's Department of English.
Halwani entertained the audience with a presentation on the show's view of homosexuality. Halwani cited several characters and episodes—notably 'Three Gays of the Condo'—to support his contention that the series treats gays and lesbians as normally as everyone else. In the process, he said, the show supports the fight for equality and ( perhaps, unintentionally ) takes on a political slant.
Savage discussed the supposed effects of media violence on children, while Foote talked about 'The Simpsons as Satirical Authors of Humanist Culture,' a course she teaches at Columbia. While talking, Foote made a revelation that was truly stunning: Next year's freshman class will be the first that will not have known a world without the seminal TV series.