Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Offensive Satire

German television has placed a moratorium on meltdowns in The Simpsons.

Reacting to the real-life nuclear disaster unfolding in Japan, Pro7, the channel that airs The Simpsons in Germany, will be screening current and future episodes of the show and remove or replace any that feature a disaster at Mr. Burns' nuclear power plant. The networks in Austria and Switzerland have followed suit.

"Austria's ORF has already pulled two episodes set to broadcast: Episode 66, Marge Gets a Job, which features scientists Marie Curie and Pierre Curie dying of radiation poisoning; and Episode 346, On a Clear Day I Can't See My Sister, in which characters joke about a nuclear meltdown. Tagesspeigel says ORF has held back eight Simpsons episodes until the end of April, when it will review its Springfield disaster policy."

The danger of nuclear power is a core theme on the long-running cartoon. The Simpson's opening sequence features Homer tossing a radioactive fuel rod out of his car on the way home.

The show, beginning in 1987, was created by Matt Groening, and is a satirical parody of a working class American lifestyle.

The popular satire is a jarring juxtaposition to what is happening in Japan where the latest news reveals growing radiation threats. It also raises the question when is satire inappropriate?