Today we had a chance to view one of my favorite shows, The Simpsons. this show does a great job in demonstrating “texts talking to texts”, a theme we have been working with throughout the semester. Many of the events and media referenced in this show is often done in a satirical manner. Growing up watching The Simpsons with my brothers, I never really got the references made in the episodes until I became older. Take for instance the episode we viewed today “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy”.
The Simpsons often reference popular current and historical events, and this episode was no different. After following the craze getting a Malibu Stacy doll, Lisa discovers that the doll is stereotypical of a 1950s house wife, saying lines such as, “Don’t ask me, I’m just a girl.” As a modern day feminist, Lisa tries o take on the Malibu Stacy image, which is a play on the image of the Barbie doll. She attempts to show other girls her age of what the doll is showing them, but no one is convinced, not even her own mother. Marge, the mother, is very much like the 1950s house wife, a homemaker who cooks, cleans, and takes care of the children. Marge doesn’t take Lisa seriously until dinner, when she says exact line as the doll, “Let’s have a bowl of strawberry ice cream.”
To take on Malibu Stacy, she enlists the help of the the creator the the doll, Stacy Lovell. Lisa wanted to create her own doll, Lisa Lionheart, one who could be a roll model for young girls. This doll was dressed more conservatively and spoke phrases that are not as subjective as those of the Malibu Stacy doll. But like any big corporation that faces competition, they get help from the government to create a “better” doll, Malibu Stacy with a new hat, that will ultimately trump any chance Lisa’s doll had.
This is an image that women have been battling to get away from, only to have this doll send women backwards in progression. As we see in Marge, and the other girls shown in this episode, many of them aspire to become what the doll portrays. They want the perfect life, having the perfect husband, house, cars, and all the accessories. As many of the women during the 1950s, Stacy Lovell knew that a doll like Malibu Stacy would sell, even if that wasn’t her personal belief. She was very much an activist in her younger years, funneling money to the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War (Jane Fonda). As many women during that time, Stacy had to uphold an image of the “Ideal housewife” to sell her work.
Along with the ties to the Barbie doll, there are a number of references within this episode. One that was blunt was the statement that white men ages 18-40 could voice an opinion and be heard, which went along with the numerous plot lines within this one episode. One of my favorites was its connection to the movie “Big” with Tom Hanks, although the piano playing was not as successful. There is also other connections to Matlock, and the more contemporary Easy-Bake oven.