In the colorful world of The Simpsons, where yellow characters inhabit the town of Springfield, one iconic element has been a consistent source of humor and, at times, controversy – Homer Simpson’s penchant for playfully strangling his son, Bart. Recent speculation arose after an episode where Homer seemingly suggested he had abandoned the practice, but co-creator James L. Brooks has clarified that Bart’s fate remains unchanged.
The episode in question featured a new neighbor complimenting Homer on his firm handshake, prompting Homer to quip, “See Marge, strangling the boy has paid off!” Yet, in an apparent moment of reflection, he quickly added, “Just kidding. I don’t do that anymore.” This led to speculation that the show might be adapting to more modern sensibilities, avoiding the portrayal of parent-child violence.
However, James L. Brooks, a key figure in the creation of The Simpsons, has dispelled any such notions. In an interview with PEOPLE, Brooks stated unequivocally, “Don’t think for a second we’re changing anything.” He emphasized that the dynamic between Homer and Bart, including the occasional stranglehold, remains an integral part of the show’s humor.
The Strangling Will Go On
To drive home the point, Brooks shared an illustration featuring Homer with his hands around Bart’s neck, accompanied by a smartphone displaying a headline that read, “Simpsons: No more strangling.” Despite the seemingly conflicting message, Brooks clarified, “Nothing’s getting tamed. Nothing, nothing, nothing.” He reassured fans that Bart will continue to experience his father’s unique form of affection, terming it, “[if] you want to use that awful term for it,” and stressed that it’s a specific way in which Homer expresses love.
While the show has garnered a massive and dedicated fan base over its long run, it hasn’t been without its share of controversies and debates about its portrayal of family dynamics. The humor, often satirical and irreverent, has sparked discussions on various social issues. The Simpson family, with its quirks and dynamics, has become a cultural touchstone, and the decision to maintain certain recurring elements like Homer’s affectionate yet comical stranglehold on Bart reflects the creators’ commitment to preserving the essence of the show.
Despite the clarification, it’s worth noting that the frequency of this particular gag has diminished over time. The last on-screen instance of Homer strangling Bart occurred during Season 31, which aired in 2019-2020. Nevertheless, it seems that, for the creators of The Simpsons, some classic comedic elements are timeless and will persist in the animated universe they’ve crafted for over three decades.