November 9, 2023
Homer Simpson has announced that he will no longer strangle his son Bartholomew in new episodes of the sitcom following the escapades of his family, The Simpsons.
Homer Simpson has announced that he will no longer strangle his son Bartholomew in new episodes of the sitcom following the escapades of his family, The Simpsons. Times have changed since the show debuted in 1989, including the designs of the characters and additional family members. According to The Independent, despite the running gag being a mainstay in the series, it has not been without its detractors.
Homer makes a joke in an episode that aired on Oct 22, titled “McMansion and Wife” when introducing himself to his newest neighbor Thayer. As Thayer shakes his hand and remarks how firm Homer’s grip is, Homer says to Marge, “See, Marge, strangling the boy paid off,”
Homer then adds, “Just kidding, I don’t do that anymore. Times have changed.”
Though the episode aired on Oct. 22, it created a buzz online as users reacted once clips of the show started circulating on Twitter/X on Nov. 2.
The last time Homer strangled Bart was in Season 31 which aired between 2019 and 2020, though the show had discussed the topic of abuse well before then. In a season 22 episode titled “Love Is A Many Strangled Thing” Homer attended a fathering enrichment class at the bequest of Marge. The class, taught by a giant basketball player who was voiced by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, left Homer with the inability to strangle Bart after Jabbar’s character impressed on Homer how it feels to be at the mercy of someone bigger and stronger than him.
At that time, the hiatus on strangulation was not made permanent as two seasons later, in an episode titled “Love Is A Many-Splintered Thing” Homer again strangles Bart, this time in front of his son’s BFF, Milhouse Van Houten. The event, leaves Milhouse traumatized. The Simpsons have generally received praise for ending this gag, even if some users are frustrated that it has taken the series too long to respond to cultural shifts.
That is something the show has already experienced through well deserved criticism of its depiction of Apu, a stereotypical Indian character voiced by a white man, Matt Azaria. The show began featuring the character less and less beginning in 2018 following the documentary The Problem With Apu debuted by Hari Kondaboli in 2017. Azaria told Kondaboli in 2023, “Through my role in Apu and what I created in Hollywood messaging – which is a big deal in this country and around the world – I helped to create a pretty marginalising, dehumanising stereotype.”
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