The Simpsons: Prophets of Truth? Or Purveyors of Idiocy?

When I began this blog early last month, I told myself no religion and no politics.

I lied. It’s impossible to be an American and not see what is happening to our country. A man is elected president through the Electoral College (neither a college nor a voting booth). I understand the idea of the Electoral College; I just don’t know why it is even called a college. (Maybe someone can answer that one for me.)

Okay, so where do The Simpsons come in? Eighteen years ago, the show predicted Donald Trump would be President of the United States. Yes. Fact-check me. I have always enjoyed the earlier years of the series as a satirical send-up of American culture and life, but this scares me a little.

I knew the creators and writers of the show had to be from my generation (aging baby-boomers), and I sat with my daughter and explained episodes such as when the first President Bush moved in across the street from the family, and a Dennis the Menace Bart annoyed the elder Bush until mayhem ensued and the Bushes left the neighborhood.

In fact, I have always liked how the writers made not so subtle references to all things United States–the good and the bad. Certainly we are talking about a cartoon, but The Simpsons has survived as America’s longest running television show, nearing its 30th year. That is even longer than my parent’s favorite, Gunsmoke.

At the moment, Saturday Night Live holds the satirical schtick on current White House goings-on, and not so subtly, either. I find some of the sketches painful to watch, but this is part of our First Amendment rights. We can say stuff. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it.

I tell myself that every time I watch the news and the President has said something that makes me cringe. I’ve been told from a reliable source that our Founding Fathers expected us to have impeached and convicted more leaders than we have to date. Remember, Nixon resigned.

I wait and watch the investigations, but lately I have become tired of wasting energy on this turtle-slow moving project. I hope justice will win. I hope someone will stop this train-wreck and put another train, smarter one, on the track. We do have a smarter one, don’t we?









Taking Criticism

I’m in a writing workshop where online classmates and I will “exchange papers,” and try to critique them fairly. We are all grad students, but, I swear, there is always, always, someone who tries to be the English teacher, which is ridiculous because we are all English teachers. I usually struggle to find suggestions for the writer because this is a group of very good, but unpublished writers.

There are times, though, when the criticism stings a bit.

For example, I had a screenwriting class, and during the workshop, the professor and several students suggested I take out the middle of the play, put it at the beginning, and change the story arc of two main characters.

“Wait a minute,” I thought, “that changes them completely!”

But then, I remembered how, years and years ago (black and white tv, and no remotes), I was sitting in a feature writing workshop, cringing at the slight criticism of a nonfiction piece I had written. Like an idiot, I left the room crying and refused to make the changes.

I couldn’t take the criticism. I couldn’t take any criticism. My mother used to call me “thin-skinned,” and that is true, to a point. Part of my problem was trying to be perfect, without realizing how Don Quixote that was! No one’s perfect. But, sometimes, people who know what they are doing help you get closer to it.

Return with me to that screenplay, years later. Did I change it? Yes. And the professor said he never had a student follow his advice the way I did. Did I cringe a bit? Yes, of course, but I learned a long time ago to listen to people who criticize fairly and have your best interests at heart.

That’s all. I changed the play because I didn’t take the criticism personally. I used it to make my writing better. For the record, I earned an “A.” An “A” for listening and putting my ego in a drawer for a change.