Issue Date: May 7, 2009
City: Los Angeles, CA
Bart is America’s bad boy. On the satirical television show, he is a class clown who thumbs his nose at authority. According to critic Robert Bianco, Bart is “...the child we wish we’d been, and fear our children will become.”
Bart is a 10-year-old boy who breaks all of the rules. He frequently disrupts class, pulls pranks on adults, and never gets in trouble with his parents. Bart’s hallmark is writing on the chalkboard in detention, a sight-gag that started early on the show. With production of an episode taking up to six months, it allows Bart to respond to current events. After Vice President Dan Quayle’s improper spelling of potato, Bart wrote, “It’s potato, not potatoe” repeatedly on the blackboard.
Bart’s attitude has earned the show millions of fans and boatloads of controversy. He was labeled a bad influence on children by parent groups and educators. Bart tee shirts were banned at many schools. President George H.W. Bush once said that he wanted to make “American families a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons.” In the next episode, Bart responded to the President by saying, “Hey, we’re just like the Waltons. We’re praying for an end to the Depression too.”