bart simpson vs. bill cosby

Where’s Your Huxtables Now, Flanders?

Remember the big Bart Simpson scare in the early nineties? Everyone was freaking out because The Simpsons was beating The Cosby Show in the ratings. I remember a picture of Bill Cosby next to Bart Simpson with boxing gloves was on a bunch of tabloids in the grocery store.

America had chosen this dysfunctional family over the clean family values of the Huxtables. They wanted an underachiever (and proud of it, man!) instead of a successful Black household with “no excuses” parenting of Claire and Cliff and his precocious children who all behaved civilly.

Conservatives George Bush, Pat Buchanan, and Jerry Falwell used The Simpsons as a straw man for the decline of family values in America. They wanted a society “more like The Waltons and less like The Simpsons” (literally–it was in his 1992 campaign speech). This nuclear family that had a working father, a doting mother, two and a half kids, and a family dog. A family that still ate dinner together and said grace every night (or tried to–don’t let Bart do it). Single-parent households, latchkey kids, no-fault divorce, television raising children instead of involved parents–this is what they were afraid of.

Well, it’s thirty years later and The Simpsons is still on the air. People have been born and died within that span and lived full lives. Did the family unit collapse? Are kids wandering around doing drugs and joining street gangs? Are we living in a Mad Max world? Despite the argument about quality, Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie are as entrenched in American culture as Mario and Mickey Mouse. Now politicians are climbing over themselves to claim the Simpsons as “their party’s” family.

And where are the Huxtables? Where are all those naysayers? Jerry Falwell and similar evangelists committed fraud with church funds. George Bush served one term after a terrible recession. Pat Buchanan was revealed as an antisemite and Holocaust denier and election messer-upper. Now we have the opposite problem of latchkey kids — helicopter parents. We have participation trophies and school shootings. We still don’t know what kids are watching because they have their TVs in their pockets. But what they watch is incomprehensible to us.

And the icing on the cake–Bill Cosby has served time for raping thirty women. America’s favorite dad went to jail. The guy who so many young Black children looked up to, who called Bart Simpson a “bad role model”. Well, who’s the bad role model now.

I want you to think about it. Think about how wrong they were then. And what they could be wrong about now.

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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