"Bart of Darkness" Postmodern Analysis

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Postmodernism is a term used to represent a wide scale of attitudes and cultural criticism emerging in the 1980s, which challenge and reject the standards and values of the modernist period. Although postmodernism is a difficult term to generalise, there are several common features which characterise postmodern art forms, including intertextuality, appropriation, parody, role reversal and irony. The Simpsons, an animated sitcom created by Matt Groening in 1989, is perhaps today’s finest example of postmodern television, due to its use of postmodernist techniques previously mentioned, and its departure from the conventions of traditional sitcoms. For this speech, I will be exploring the episode “Bart of Darkness”. One of the key features of the postmodern art form is intertextuality, which The Simpsons utilise in its episode names, storylines and animation techniques. Right off the bat, Bart of Darkness uses the postmodern techniques of intertextuality and appropriation by drawing on the parody of Joseph Conrad’s novel “Heart of Darkness” as a pun to the episode name Bart of Darkness, thus making the dark side of Bart’s human nature contrast to the character of Kurtz in Conrad’s novel. Further, the episode uses intertextuality by parodying Alfred Hitchcock’s film Rear Window; in this scene, Bart spies on his neighbours from their room windows and become convinced that one of them has committed murder, drawing on the parody of Alfred Hitchcock’s film as they both have the exact storyline. The scene’s “camera angles” also directly mimic some of the film’s famous shots as you can see, therefore comically exaggerating the extent of Bart’s misery through that explicit comparison to a horror film, and an explicit reference is made to the Rear Window character of LB Jeffries when he makes an appearance as a parodied, cartoon version of himself. Through these scenes, it

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