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Author Topic: Social commentary?  (Read 1668 times)
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KurtPikachu2001

Urban Legend
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« on: 10-22-2003 17:35 »

Does anyone here believe that Futurama is a cartoon that has sophisticated social commentary?  I believe that it does.  There's more social commentary in an episode of Futurama than there is in a whole season of Friends!
The Master Con
Crustacean
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« Reply #1 on: 10-22-2003 19:40 »

 
Quote
There's more social commentary in an episode of Futurama than there is in a whole season of Friends!

That's not saying much.
aslate

Space Pope
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« Reply #2 on: 10-22-2003 20:12 »

The DVDs bring up Futurama's social commentary a lot, just listen to a few.
DotheBartman

Liquid Emperor
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« Reply #3 on: 10-23-2003 00:26 »

To be fair to Friends, its not really TRYING to have social commentary, whereas Futurama is.  Not every show has to have social commentary.  Not that Friends doesn't still suck, mind you.

I think Futurama sometimes falters a bit with its commentary, or doesn't stay focused on it (example: A great political commentary suddenly turns into a string of, admittingly hilarious, Nixon jokes).  But its still definetely one of the most sophisticated shows on tv in that sense regardless.
Pitt Clemens

Urban Legend
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« Reply #4 on: 10-23-2003 00:32 »

Flag-burning comes to mind.
canned eggs

Space Pope
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« Reply #5 on: 10-23-2003 03:42 »

Social commentary isn't always that overt.  Futurama is so subversive precisely because it seems to be founded on a subtle piece of social commentary.  I mean, it's about a guy who finds himself so completely alone in a technologically confusing world that his best friend is a robot.  It's fundamentally about loneliness and alienation in a technological society.  Universe of the hyperreal, etc.  The lesson for the present is plain.  So the whole fact that it's a collection of weirdos and outsiders is part of the message, not just a pack of cheap jokes.  They don't need to deal with ripped-from-the-headlines issues to comment on society.

canned eggs: all rights reserved, all wrongs reversed.
Beamer

DOOP Secretary
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« Reply #6 on: 10-23-2003 04:32 »

Futurama rarely has much social commentary, which is understandable due to it's futuristic sci-fi theme. However, it DOES have occassional social commentary in many episodes - some main ones that spring to mind include A Taste Of Freedom, A Big Piece Of Garbage, The Bird-Bot Of Ice-Catraz, The Problem With Popplers and Crimes Of The Hot. However, Futurama doesn't exactly devote itself to social commentary, so it doesn't make as many good points about modern society as say, South Park - but still, it has it's more subtle moments.
MrBurns

Bending Unit
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« Reply #7 on: 10-23-2003 06:07 »

I like the way Futurama deals with social commentaries. In The Simpsons, you always got the feeling they're trying to teach you something because the social commentary aspect was so obivous, which was pretty annoying. Err I hope someone understands this.
Gleno

Liquid Emperor
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« Reply #8 on: 10-23-2003 10:18 »

Social whaa....?
FilthyCrab

Urban Legend
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« Reply #9 on: 10-23-2003 10:25 »

Futurama is absolutely filled with social commentary.  They explore all sorts of issues, from relationships to work ethics to racial stereotypes, etc.

Remember that Matt G. has been quoted as saying the Simpsons are fantasy, Futurama is real.  I think that at least one way he means that is in the context of exploring societal interactions through this show.
less than hero

Bending Unit
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« Reply #10 on: 10-23-2003 11:04 »

We only need social commentaries to see how views have changed in the year 3000.  I guess...you can mock me if you don't believe me...but I'd prefer if you didn't.
canned eggs

Space Pope
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« Reply #11 on: 10-23-2003 13:03 »

See, FilthyCrab gets it.
User_names_suck
Professor
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« Reply #12 on: 10-23-2003 13:25 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by MrBurns:
I like the way Futurama deals with social commentaries. In The Simpsons, you always got the feeling they're trying to teach you something because the social commentary aspect was so obivous, which was pretty annoying. Err I hope someone understands this.


i dont know its obvious they are trying to say something in the problem with popplers
and the birdbot of alcatraz,
for example, someone making an unusually long speech, with appropriate music, and a camera push, happens in these 2 episodes
MrBurns

Bending Unit
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« Reply #13 on: 10-23-2003 15:55 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by User_names_suck:
 
i dont know its obvious they are trying to say something in the problem with popplers
and the birdbot of alcatraz,
for example, someone making an unusually long speech, with appropriate music, and a camera push, happens in these 2 episodes

They're doing it in a funnier way than in The Simpsons though. In The Simpsons, I always got the feeling they were trying to teach me something, not just stating something. And it was the same in almost every single episode. That's how I see it anyways.
davierocks

Professor
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« Reply #14 on: 10-23-2003 19:12 »

Futurama IS filled with social commentary, perhaps not as much as some Simpsons episodes but yeah.  I agree with most of Matt Groenings opinions on society, although I don't agree that with what seems to be his opinion on social security, several jokes in both the Simpsons and Futurama imply that he is against it. Ah well nobody is perfect.
Tropic of Fry

Crustacean
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« Reply #15 on: 10-23-2003 19:40 »

What are you talking about? Friends is loaded with social commentary!
It's a bunch of pathetic losers hanging out in a coffee shop that's name is a wretched pun.
I can't think of a more frighteningly real wake up call to modern society.
Not to mention the females on the show always date men with wavy hair, what's that about?
But that's beside the point. Futurama has many excellent things to say to whomever will listen, but i don't think it matches the genius of the Simpsons seasons 2-5. Now THAT was deftly crafted commentary.

"Please go away!" Ignatius screamed. "You're shattering my religious ecstacy!"
DotheBartman

Liquid Emperor
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« Reply #16 on: 10-23-2003 23:58 »

Eh, interesting theory FilthyCrab, but I think Groening's comment was more about the "no crossovers" rule, and the idea that The Simpsons is a tv show that Futurama characters watch, so they're not in the same universe.  Frankly I think that statement was made entirely to avoid having to do a crossover (he absolutely hates the idea, as evidenced by his actually pulling his name off "A Star is Burns" because of the crossover with "The Critic" ) and so that Futurama could be judged as a seperate show from The Simpsons.

And regarding The Simpsons' "moralistic" views, I think it actually tended to be a little less heavy handed then Futurama (Godfellas being the one real exception).  Every time they have something to say its completely from one viewpoint with a "message" attached.  The ending of "Big Peice of Garbage", however much I love it, is a good example.  The Simpsons had some of that too, but mostly whenever they had an "issue" episode they would approach it from different angles and of course satirize each.  "Itchy and Scratchy and Marge" was one of the best examples.  The "there has always been violence" argument is mocked as too simplistic and the idea that media may actually affect childrens' behavior is legitimately explored (which is amazing given all the flack the show was getting at the same time for supposedly influencing children), but at the same time Marge's crusade is also mocked as being too simplistic. And the ending, rather then preaching one way or the other, basically just says "the issue of censorship and media influence on children is a complex one with many facets.  Think about it" and lets the viewer decide. There are lots of other examples, like "Scenes from the class Struggle in Springfield", "The Cartridge Family", etc where they showed multiple sides and similarly ended with "think about it" endings.

One last thing: Groening may or may not be for social security.  Keep in mind that he has probably contributed about ten things to The Simpsons since season 3 (okay, that's exxagerating...a little) and similarly doesn't exactly write every joke on Futurama either.


Beamer

DOOP Secretary
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« Reply #17 on: 10-24-2003 04:29 »

Still, there's no denying Futurama has plenty of social commentary - it's just a lot more subtle than the social commentary in The Simpsons.
Mouse On Venus

Liquid Emperor
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« Reply #18 on: 10-24-2003 09:41 »

There's often some kind of social commentary in each episode, even if it is minor. One that grabbed me was The Cyber House Rules which had a lot of little things in there. The way that Adlai portrayed society's superficial views on genetic amnormalities, how Sally and Leela as an orphan displayed the downfall of being born that way. The way that Adlai and Leela ummed and ahhed when presented with a little black orphan. Little things like that.

 BTW, DoTheBartman is pretty much dead-on about Matt Greoning. The way that his explanations for things in the DVD commentaries are often very basic ("I just thought it would be cool to have a sci-fi babe with one eye." ) kinda indicate that the real depth in the show comes from the rest of the staff.
Lt. Kroker

Bending Unit
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« Reply #19 on: 10-24-2003 10:56 »

Futurama's social commentary is every bit as subtle as the Simpsons, and often more. The Problem With Popplers I thought was very similar to Itchy and Scratchy and Marge, in that it showed the flaws in both sides of the meat-eating argument and didn't come to an obvious conclusion.

And the Simpsons can be heavy-handed too. Take Homer vs. Lisa vs. the Eighth Commandment, and a lot of other preachy early episodes.
DotheBartman

Liquid Emperor
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« Reply #20 on: 10-24-2003 23:43 »

Problem With Popplers was great but seemed fairly preachy to me.  It showed both sides but I think it came to a fairly clear conclusion that eating meat is wrong and that meat eaters are hypocrites ("this one isn't.  He traded everything he had on the stock market" etc).  I may be misinterperating it though.  Plus, it was a classic Futurama example of losing its focus at times.  It doesn't get to the main issue for a long while (whereas "Itchy and Scratchy and Marge" gets things going right off the bat) and even then there's a lot of distractions from the main point, like Zapp's antics, some uneeded Omicronian scenes, etc.  Problem with Popplers keeps its focus better then most Futurama episodes with its commentary, but it still wavers in a way most seasons 1-4 Simpsons episodes wouldn't have generally.

"8th Commandment" might be a tad preachy, but I think it explores each side fairly well.  Plus, again, it keeps its focus throughout.  The episode starts with Homer stealing the cable, instead of trips to the planet of the moochers or inventor symposiums.
leelaholic

Liquid Emperor
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« Reply #21 on: 10-24-2003 23:58 »

Don't forget Bart Of War. Great social commentary
Lt. Kroker

Bending Unit
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« Reply #22 on: 10-25-2003 08:29 »

I don't see how keeping focus makes for good satire. Having some funny Omicronian/Zapp scenes doesn't take from the message in any way. Also, it showed the hypocricy of both sides of the argument.

"Animals eat other animals. It's nature."
"No it isn't. We taught a lion to eat tofu."

"8th Commandment" really didn't show both sides for me. It pretty much just said "Stealing is baaad. If you do it you'll go to HELL!"
Sil

Professor
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« Reply #23 on: 10-25-2003 09:35 »

If you listen to the audio commentary for SP3K, David Cohen and Matt Groening say something to the effect of:

DXC: "We decided if we wanted to do any sort of serious commentary on life to day, then the future had to have good and bad elements; it couldn't be a complete utopia or a total dystopia."
MG: "Yeah, a total utopia or dystopia would get boring after a while."

Also says in the commentary for Birdbot of Ice-Catraz:

DXC: "Back when I was working there, one of the senior writers on the Simpsons told me that if you're going to do a thoughtful episode like this, it works much better if you give both sides a somewhat reasonable argument; like 'yeah, hunting could be beneficial if the animals are overpopulated and starving or whatever.'"
DotheBartman

Liquid Emperor
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« Reply #24 on: 10-25-2003 17:11 »

 
Quote
Originally posted by Lt. Kroker:
I don't see how keeping focus makes for good satire. Having some funny Omicronian/Zapp scenes doesn't take from the message in any way. Also, it showed the hypocricy of both sides of the argument.

"Animals eat other animals. It's nature."
"No it isn't. We taught a lion to eat tofu."

"8th Commandment" really didn't show both sides for me. It pretty much just said "Stealing is baaad. If you do it you'll go to HELL!"

It just depends.  There's nothing wrong with some side jokes, but MOST of your material needs to be related in some way to the main point for a full fledged satire to work to its fullest.  Again, Problem with Popplers kept its focus fairly well, but most other episodes didn't.  Basically, the point is that you need to keep a good focus up to make something truly thoughtful.  Some quick side jokes (which was most of the satire on the show, for most episodes anyway) are nice but they don't get a person thinking in the way that "Itchy and Scratchy and Marge" etc, or "Godfellas" for that matter, does.  So, by that token, some of the Zapp scenes were a tad excessive and just distracted from the main point too much, therefore distracting the viewer a tad from what hopefully otherwise got them thinking.

And again, I never saw "8th Commandment" as being that one-sided.  I guess it takes the "stealing cable is wrong" route or at least the "stealing cable might be wrong, so think about it" route.  But I think they leave the religious aspects of it more or less open for debate, similar to "Godfellas" (an episode that could come off to many as preaching, but in the end doesn't entirely clarify if Bender was talking to "God" at all).  Most or at least a good portion of the writers back then were athiests after all.
Mouse On Venus

Liquid Emperor
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« Reply #25 on: 10-25-2003 18:07 »
« Last Edit on: 10-25-2003 18:07 »

I think Futurama says a lot about the Americanisation of the world. The fact that Richard Nixon's head becomes President Of Earth instead of just President Of The USA is a case in point, since we are to assume that America has taken over the rest of the world in order to become the base for the leadership of the entire planet.

 Admittedly, this is more political commentary than anything, but it's still valid.  cool
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