May 8, 2015

Bart Simpson Comes to SCA

Nancy Cartwright, (Center) with Bart Simpson and the USC Marching Band. Photograph by Vince Gonzales.

Bart Simpson will forever have a home at the School of Cinematic Arts.

Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, commemorated The Simpsons’ 25 years on the air by creating a statue of Bart’s masked alter-ego, Bartman, who first appears in the show’s second season in the episode, “Three Men and a Comic Book.” The statue is now a permanent installation in the Harold Lloyd Lobby in the Steven Spielberg Building.

At the statue’s unveiling event on May 8th, Dean Elizabeth M. Daley emphasized the School’s longstanding connection with the iconic show. “The Simpsons already has roots here at SCA, co-created by close friend of the School and Comedy@SCA Master Class professor James L. Brooks, and, of course, produced and distributed by Fox. I’m so excited to extend those ties today and thrilled that Nancy chose SCA to be the permanent home of Bart Simpson.”

That excitement was shared by the voice of Bart Simpson herself as she took the stage. “25 years ago, as you all know, the world was introduced to this underachiever Bart Simpson,” she reminisced. “He was in the 4th grade and he had just flunked his final exam when he blurted out, ‘Who am I kidding? I really am a failure. Now I know how George Washington felt when he surrendered Fort Necessity to the French in 1754!’ And at that moment, with that little bit of trivia, Bart listened to Mrs. Krabappel as she awarded him with an extra point. To which Bart responded, ‘I passed! I passed! I got a D-! I passed!’”

“I am quite sure that Bart Simpson does not meet the qualifications necessary to go to such a prestigious and trendsetting university as USC,” Cartwright said to the packed crowd in Meldman Family Cinematic Arts Park. “But I also find it deliciously rewarding that USC has welcomed the bust of the Bartman! I am truly touched to introduce him to your campus. And don’t worry, after 25 years, Bart Simpson is still in the 4th grade.”

It’s hard to imagine the ascendant landscape of modern animation without The Simpsons. In its remarkable 25 seasons on the air, it has become a cultural touchstone, referenced and revered in every kind of media. Its writers’ room has been a proving ground for countless comedic minds turned TV powerhouses, such as Greg Daniels, Mike Scully, and Conan O’Brien. Even today, few shows have been as effective at blending sharp satire, slapstick gags, and warm family comedy so seamlessly.

Over the years, the show has won all kind of awards and unique distinctions, from earning over 31 Emmys to being the first animated show ever to win a Peabody Award, to having episodes immortalized and discussed in depth in theological textbooks around the world (see: season four’s episode, “Bart Sells His Soul”).

Longstanding fans of the series praise the show’s wit and adaptability, while some critics may deride it, with no small amount of irony, as the “Worst. Show. Ever.” – a phrase that one of the show’s hundreds of satirical side characters, Jeff Albertson (aka Comic Book Guy), coined and cemented into the pop culture pantheon. In either case, the show’s decades-long influence is still unquestionable.