Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Simpsons News: Simpsons, Stamps, and Smoking?

The Simpsons have been in the news lately for two main reasons. I'll start with the first reason.

This is probably old news to all you other superfans of The Simpsons, but the recently the United States Postal Service has recently released stamps in honor of the comedic, yellow family. Each of the stamps has one of the five family members with different brightly colored backgrounds. They can be purchased in your local post office or here online. I would buy some, but I have to save money with the recession and all.

Now for the not so great news. Recent online sources, such as the Age, have been citing an Australian study that has found that smoking imagery in The Simpsons, such as scenes of Selma, Patty, Krusty the Clown, and Mr. Teeny smoking, may encourage young viewers to smoke. The article provided some interesting statistics.

"... [of the] 400 episodes of the first 18 seasons of the show...They found a whopping 795 instances of smoking or references to smoking...More than half involved male characters, a fifth female characters, and about 16 per cent non-gender characters such as animals...Smoking was mostly portrayed in a neutral way, but in 35 per cent of cases it had negative connotations and 2 per cent of the time it was shown to be positive" (Medew).

They also add that regardless of the context, including those characters who show the negative consequences of smoking, the image of a character smoking would encourage smoking among young adults. Although the study cites the Simpsons as an example, other studies have shown that this applies to any character smoking in a television context. As a person who majored in Psychology in college I know that these type of studies should be taken with a grain of salt. Any correlation found between viewing Simpsons characters smoking and the amount of youth who watch the show who smoke may be caused by anything including just a possible overall increase in the amount of young adults who smoke in Australia.

Nevertheless, it is still very interesting to think about the amount of times smoking is shown and referenced in The Simpsons and that maybe it maybe time for a decrease in these instances. But hey if you don't care and want to indulge in the smoking imagery (like I wanted to do yesterday) check out the episode of the Simpsons entitled "Smoking Ballerina."


Medew, Julia "Simpsons 'may prompt' smoking." The Age. June 2009. <http://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/wellbeing/simpsons-may-prompt-smoking-20090531-brpp.html>

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