Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Simpsons and Me...

Simpquoyah - 2014 by Roy Boney, Jr.

I remember when The Simpsons aired its first full episode “Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire.” It was almost Christmas, so fittingly, it was a Christmas special.  I had just turned eleven a couple of weeks before and was in the fourth grade.  We didn’t have cable, but I watched cartoons as much as I could. I would sit by the TV and try to draw the characters I saw - Thundercats, He-Man, and Robotech were some of my favorites.

Our family TV viewing worked like this.  Dad would come home from work, eat supper, and then he would do some chores around the house. It was my duty to go with him and help.  We would feed the chicken (yes, one chicken), the rabbits, the dogs, the cats, and when it was cold, we’d split and stack wood.  We’d also have to fill up buckets of water from the well and bring them inside because the running water in our house always had a slight oily film on it (it was actually flammable), so we couldn’t use it to cook or drink (and you thought fracking was a new thing). And the times I had homework, I’d have to do that first, too. The last “chore” on the list at that point for me was TV dial duty - back in the days before we could afford a remote control TV and get Cherokee Nation to help us get a decent well.  Dial duty was one of my favorite things.

So I was flipping through the channels waiting for Mom or Dad to tell me to stop when something caught their fancy. This time, though, I was the one who found something.  One of those “up next” previews happened to be on as I flipped to Channel 23.  It was of crude looking yellow characters with strange overbites.  The style was unlike anything I had seen at the time (The Tracey Ullman Show wasn’t something I was allowed to watch).  It was so different from the other cartoons I tried to copy in my sketchpad.  So I immediately shouted out, “Can we watch that?”  No big fuss was made about it, and since it was only a couple of minutes from airing, the dial stopped there.  After that half hour of television finished, I was hooked. My parents seemed to be uneasy about it, especially with the casual swearing (“I didn’t think cartoons said stuff like that.”), but I’ve never missed an episode since.  My obsession with sketching while watching the show explains why I am able to mimic the illustration style of the show now.

Twenty-five years later, I can stream the series online and watch any episode any time I want.  While that’s extraordinarily convenient, it takes away the element of fandom of actually scheduling your time to watch your favorite shows. Before the internet made a business of tv recap blogs and pointless comment arguments, scheduling was a part of fandom I actually enjoyed.  It felt like one was truly expressing his or her fandom. I don’t know -  Convenience be damned.

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