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Friday, August 05, 2011

TGIF: Homer Simpson: Patriarch?

As you may have figured out based on the image up above as well as the title of this blog entry, this blog is all about Homer Simpson.

The twist is, I plan to look at Homer Simpson under an entirely different microscope slide as most people usually do.  In fact, I may end up taking an opinion that not a lot of people may have about Homer.  I'll take that risk though, in hopes that some of you will agree with me, or even change your opinion.

First things first, let's get all the stereotypes out of the way, which will lead to the biggest misconception of the man of the Simpsons household.

There's the fact that he is portrayed as a gluttonous sloth like character.  Donuts and Duff beer are probably two of his biggest weaknesses in life, and he would literally go crazy if he was deprived of either.  I mean, you all remember that Halloween episode where no beer and T.V. made Homer something something...

There's also the fact that he has basically zero ambition to move ahead in his job, and that he spends more time actually avoiding work rather than going to work to get a decent day's work in.  Though, in Homer's defense, you wouldn't want to go to work either if you had a narcissistic boss like Mr. Burns.  I know I certainly wouldn't.

Then there's the idea that Homer doesn't seem to have the greatest intelligence in the whole world.  In fact, one might actually come out and call him stupid, clumsy, idiotic, or even brain-dead in some instances.

Why, I'm sure we could come up with several examples.  Burning his high school diploma and half the living room in the process while singing about how S-M-R-T he really is.  Actually come to think of it, he actually burned down the whole house during his 'I don't ever want to go to church again'.  He also managed to get himself fired numerous times (and was promptly rehired).  He's stolen or destroyed items belonging to Ned Flanders.  His abuse of alcohol has often lead to some rather dangerous moments for him, and I can't even begin to mention all of the various injuries that he has sustained over the years.

(Note to self...never steal a dumb guy's penny jar...)

And, then there's the aspect of Homer's personality that people seem hell bent on attacking...his role within the Simpson family.

Some would say that Homer is too self-absorbed to be a real husband to Marge and a real father to his children.  I mean, granted, the guy will more than likely never be named Springfield's Father of the Year any century soon according to other people in town.  There's been quite a few episodes that I can remember where Homer often put himself before his family.  When he revealled intimate secrets about his marriage to the class he was teaching at the adult education center, it caused him to live in Bart's treehouse for a while.  He ended up destroying almost everything Lisa owned in a couple of his hair-brained schemes.  He has a tendency to egg Bart on in such ways that usually end up getting Bart either in serious trouble, or completely embarrassed, and he even accidentally locked Maggie inside a newspaper box.

Even in instances where he did get a chance to prove himself a hero, he sometimes bungled it up.  His trip into outer space certainly didn't go off perfectly, and it's pretty hard to ignore the fact that he only managed to prevent a nuclear meltdown by a chance playing of eenie-meenie-miney-mo.

So, it's easy to see how some might have the opinion that Homer Simpson is a terrible father and a terrible husband, and that if one were to look up the word buffoon, his picture would be right in the middle of it.

Well, what if I could tell you that I will not only prove that statement to be false, but also provide examples in which Homer Simpson ended up being a romantic, loving husband to Marge, and a fantastic father to his three children?  Will you believe it then?

In fact, I even have proof.

Why don't we start off with the romance first and work our way down?

Now, Homer and Marge upon first glance seem to be a couple that is absolutely mismatched.  He's irresponsible, she's practical.  He's impulsive, she plans things out.  He's dangerous, she's safety-minded.  He's easy-going, she's overprotective.  Yet, somehow, these two end up respecting, loving, and being passionate with one another in every episode.

One of the most touching gestures between Homer and Marge that I can remember is the episode where Homer and Marge tell the kids about their very first prom together.  Well, actually, they never really did go to the prom together.  They were supposed to.  Homer wanted to ask Marge out for ages, but didn't think that he was good enough for Marge to ever consider asking him out, so he lied and said that he needed a tutor in French.  Things were going good until Marge discovered Homer's lie, and she slapped him and told him she never wanted to see him again.  So, Marge ended up taking a snobby student named Artie Ziff to the prom, whom everyone seemed to like and respect.  Homer knew he could never compete with Artie's looks, charm, and personality, so he walked away. 

That is until Artie got a little too grabby with Marge, and ended up tearing Marge's prom dress.  Marge slapped him, and demanded that he take her home.  Once Marge got home, she kept thinking about Homer, and how despite his lie, she knew that she felt safer with Homer rather than with anyone else.  So, Marge set out to find Homer, and when she did, he fixed her dress by tying a flower corsage around it, and the rest as you know it is history.

It's easy to see where one might make the mistake that Homer and Marge are incompatible, but the truth is that both of them wouldn't know how to survive without the other one.  No matter how many times Homer makes Marge walk away from him, she always comes running back.

And, I see what your saying.  Too much co-dependence in a relationship is not healthy.  I would agree with you on that.  But, in this marriage, I think quite the opposite is true.  And, besides, wouldn't you want a partner who makes you feel needed?  Marge does.

Besides, you have to admit that when they make up, they really, REALLY make up.

Homer and Bart admittedly have a relationship that is love-hate.  At times, they can get along just fine, while in other cases, Homer really, REALLY wants to strangle his son to death, and has attempted to do so about 352 times.

Indeed there are instances in which Bart has purposely tried to push Homer's buttons.  Certainly, the very fact that half the time Bart actually refers to his father by his first name instead of Dad, Pop, Daddy, or Father is a clear indicatior that Bart isn't exactly the most respectful towards his father. 

Bart can get downright nasty to Homer at times, sassing him, causing Homer to strangle him...even causing Homer some bodily harm in the process.  Though, Homer can do some pretty terrible things to Bart as well.  It's hard to excuse the various times that he forgot to pick up Bart from sporting events (which lead to Bart and Homer both defrauding a Big Brothers type organization), and even in the Simpsons movie, he somehow ended up pushing Bart so hard in a daring competition that Bart ended up handcuffed to a lamp post naked after a nude skateboarding session down Main Street.

Still, Homer has stepped up in every way to try and be a father figure that Bart could admire.

Remember the episode of the Simpsons called 'Saturdays Of Thunder'?  It aired way back during season three.  Homer was upset because he had taken a parenting test in a magazine and in regards to Bart, failed miserably.  He was determined to become a better father to Bart, so when he heard that Springfield was having a soap box derby, he wanted to help his song build the best possible car.  Unfortunately, the car that Bart and Homer built ended up failing miserably compared to his competitors, and the end result almost destroyed the relationship between Bart and Homer forever. 

By chance, Martin Prince ended up seriously injured when he crashed his soap box car, the Honor Roller, and after the Honor Roller was fixed, Martin insisted that Bart drive his car in order to beat Nelson Muntz.  Bart agreed, though he worried that by doing this, he would hurt Homer's feelings.  To Bart's surprise, Homer had a change of heart when he happened to retake the parenting test and passed with flying colours.  This prompted Homer to cheer Bart on from the stands, which encouraged Bart to win the soap box derby, and cementing the bond between father and son.

Certainly, the bond between Bart and Homer still gets strained every now and then, but what father/son relationship doesn't?

That takes care of one of Homer's children.  But, what about his daughters?

The above image is a picture of Lisa looking at a distorted image of herself in a spoon and complaining to Marge about how hideous she looks.  It was the episode where Lisa got a caricature sketch of herself at a school carnival, which wasn't the most flattering image.  Since then, Lisa developed a case of low self-worth, and obsessed constantly over her appearance.

Homer felt that by entering Lisa in the Little Miss Springfield beauty contest that it would help Lisa feel better about herself, because to him, Lisa was beautiful in every way.  At first, Lisa was mortified that her father would do such a thing, especially since the picture that accompanied the application was the caricature that she despised.  As soon as Marge explained to Lisa that Homer sacrificed a ride of the Duff blimp in order to send the application away, Lisa reconsidered.

That's one thing that always struck me as awesome about Homer.  He can be incredibly self-obsessed and greedy when it comes to his dealings with other adults, but he'd gladly give away the shirt off of his back to help one of his children feel better.  That's what a real dad should do.

So, Lisa entered the contest, she came in second to Amber Dempsey, Amber got struck by lightning, Lisa took over the duties, became a spokesperson against everything the Little Miss Springfield pageant stood for, and was unceremoniously relinquished of her title.  Despite all that, Lisa was proud of Homer for helping her see the beauty that was always there.

Truth be told, of all the children that Homer has, his bond with Lisa is probably one of the sweetest and strongest, and that's despite the fact that in almost all cases, it happened purely by accident.  Homer initiated the Daddy-Daughter days on Sundays initially to capitalize on Lisa's uncanny ability to pick winning football teams, but when Lisa discovered the truth, it took a lot for her to forgive Homer.  Lisa gave Homer a rather cryptic prediction for Super Bowl Sunday, saying that if she still loved her father, the winner would be Washington, and if not, Buffalo.  Fortunately, the right team won, and as far as I know, the Daddy-Daughter Day was still in place.

It's also hard not to mention the episode where Homer ended up getting a crayon removed from his brain, which caused him to regain the intelligence that he thought he never had.  With a higher IQ, he really managed to get closer to Lisa (the brainiest of the Simpson clan), and he discovered a whole new world through Lisa's eyes.  Sadly, the pressure of being smart was too great for Homer, and he made the decision to put the crayon back inside his brain.  Before he did though, he wrote a letter for Lisa, telling her how proud he was to have a daughter who was smart, and how much more appreciative he was of her.

I really love the Homer/Lisa bond because it seems the most realistic of them all.  And, it also shows just how much Homer really did love his children, even if he wasn't always able to express it coherently.

And although you don't really see much of her in the Simpsons, Maggie is definitely the apple of her daddy's eye.  Heck, the word 'Daddy' was Maggie's very first word!  There have been many poignant moments that Homer shared with Maggie (well, aside from the locking her in a newspaper box).  The one I think I remember the most is when the family is looking through an old photo album and Lisa and Bart remark that there are no pictures of Maggie in the book at all.  It later shows a flashback to the time when Marge gave birth to Maggie, and how Homer was not excited about it at all.  Homer and Marge before getting pregnant to Maggie were in a great place financially.  They paid off all their debts, and they were free to do what they wanted.  Homer even quit the power plant in spectacular fashion to work at the Bowl-A-Rama. 

But then Marge got pregnant, and Homer was forced to go back to the job that he hated to be able to support the new baby.  Homer was so bitter by the end of it all, that when Marge went into labour, Homer wasn't even able to look at his new daughter.

Until a newborn Maggie reached out and touched him...and Homer instantly fell in love with her at first sight.  Suddenly, none of the other stuff mattered.  It didn't even matter that Mr. Burns put up a sign in Sector 7G that said 'DON'T FORGET, YOU'RE HERE FOREVER'.

And, it is here that Homer explains that the pictures of Maggie are in the one spot where he could always use some cheering up.

And really, Homer's love and devotion for his wife and children are all that makes him happy in the end. 

Because, when Homer rearraged the pictures of Maggie at the secret spot, it made a certain sign take on a whole new meaning...a meaning that Homer lives by each and every day for not just Maggie, but the rest of his loved ones.

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