Two months ago, after purchasing a digital copy of Married with Children, my all-time favorite sitcom, I sold off my DVD collection of the show on eBay. Yesterday, I again purchased the series on DVD.
So now I own two copies.
Well, the blacklisters are blacklisting again. And this time it’s The Simpsons.
With the release of the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, that paints the late Michael Jackson as a serial child rapist, James L. Brooks, the guy in charge of The Simpsons, announced he is pulling-banning-blacklisting an early and iconic episode where Jackson lent his voice to guest star.
“Getting the episode off all the platforms and outlets that carry the show — including streaming services, TV stations and Blu-ray/DVD box sets — won’t happen overnight,” the Wall Street Journal reported, and “the process has started.”
When I first read this, I didn’t give it much thought. I’m not a Simpsons fan. Now before y’all start screaming… Sorry, I don’t like animation. Not even as a kid, so I’ve not watched even five minutes of The Simpsons, but I’m certain you are 100 percent correct: the show is awesome, especially the early seasons, and I’m no doubt missing something and will regret it and deserve to get hit by a train.
The Washington Post’s Sonny Bunch is a Simpson’s fan, though, which means he gave this troubling news the weight it deserved and is now spreading the alarm:
It sets a precedent that anything that troubles or offends could wind up going down the memory hole alongside [the Michael Jackson Episode]. Given the troubles “Simpsons” producers have faced over the character of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon — whose voice, as performed by Hank Azaria, has been derided as grotesquely racist in recent years — can we really trust that access to classics like the “Pulp Fiction” parody “22 Short Films About Springfield” or “Homer and Apu,” with its classic tune “Who Needs the Kwik-E-Mart?” will remain accessible in perpetuity?
If you don’t own a physical copy of the thing you want to watch, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to access it at any time you choose. Your ability to access these materials depends entirely upon the whims of our corporate overlords.
[H]ere’s one thing that’s never going to happen: James L. Brooks is never going to march into my basement, rifle through my shelves and abscond with my DVD collection of the third season of “The Simpsons.” An attachment to physical media remains the best defense against corporate censorship in a world where making problematic products disappear is becoming easier than ever.
[T]he ease with which companies can make your bits and bytes inaccessible should still give pause.
It was that last sentence that jolted me to my senses.
Look at the extent to which these monolithic digital corporations have already gone to erase people from social media as a means to erase their ideas (you know, wild-eyed stuff like men are men and women are women). So of course entertainment deemed subversive and inappropriate by the fascist Wokesters is next on the ever-growing blacklist. It only makes sense.
You might argue this can’t happen in a country with a First Amendment — please, get your head out of the sand.
Look around, my friend, and you will see that our government has farmed out the removal of our rights to mega-corporations that have seized our means of communication and can legally silence us, legally blacklist us, legally blacklist their own art as James L. Brooks has now done.
Disney blacklisted its own Song of the South decades ago. Gone with the Wind has been under fire for years. And now you will no longer be able to purchase Michael Jackson’s Simpsons episode for the worst reason imaginable — like one of Stalin’s filmmakers, the show’s own creator has been brainwashed into believing censorship is the right thing to do.
Bunch argues against this censorship this way: “Hiding the omnipresence of Jackson in our cultural milieu does nothing to help us understand how the singer, who was often surrounded by a coterie of young children, could operate with impunity right under all of our noses,” which is fine, but my reasons are nowhere near as lofty.
Goddammit, this is America. We don’t disappear art in America. We don’t judge art by the artist — good grief, who in their right mind wants to go down that slippery slope of purity?
And here’s something else, and I know this isn’t popular, and I know I sound like one of those obnoxious pony-tailed ACLU defense attorneys everyone hates on Law & Order, but Michael Jackson is innocent until proven guilty. What’s more, Jackson was tried for the crime HBO’s accused him of (ten years after his death, ten years after he could defend himself) and found him not guilty.
Oh, but in the Almighty Kangaroo Court of Public Opinion, where we hide our bullying behind virtue — off with his head.
What is happening to this country is obscene and un-American. It is Salem all over again. But it is happening, so I re-purchased Married with Children and will not be letting go of my hard copies of Blazing Saddles, Gone with the Wind, or anything touched by Norman Lear.