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  1. #1
    Junior Camper Captain Wacky's Avatar
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    Bart's recent characterization

    Having watched a number of Jean/HD-era episodes recently, the extent that Bart's character has shifted surprised me considerably more than before, particularly in light of viewing, say, Moonshine River or Pranks and Greens back-to-back with Radio Bart or Bart vs. Thanksgiving - the former portrays a bizarrely empty (inconsistent) and bipolar whiny adolescent trapped in the body of a ten-year-old boy, whilst the latter features an actual, (mostly) believable portrayal of a ten-year-old and his emotional workings. To this extent, whilst virtually all of the main cast have undergone exaggeration of a handful of their classic-era traits (Homer is now basically a stock cartoon 'dumb' character with anger issues, Marge is an overly critical nag and Lisa is mostly a generic prudish bookworm (with one or two exceptions)), Bart seems to have lost all of his former traits and has resultantly devolved into a vacuum, which renders most of his focus episodes surprisingly listless.

    Addressing why this happened, I suspect it was a combination of factors during the Scully and early Jean eras which lead to Bart's derailment. To place it into perspective, Bart was essentially the show's most iconic (breakout) character during the Simon era, which led to his prominence during that period (notice that he features as a major or significant character in almost every S1 episode). Yes, Homer (at least his Scully-era incarnation) was yet more prolific during the S10-12 period, but I feel the inherent nature of the two trends is different - whilst it's simple to define Homer (lethargic, gluttonous, irresponsible-but-well meaning patriarch), Marge (nurturing and protective maternal figure) and Lisa (childlike big fish in a small pond)'s roles in the Simpsons of the classic era, Bart's role was somewhat more nebulous, and I think this may have played a role in his downfall. During the Bartmania heyday of S1-3 or so, Bart was not so much defined by a consistent single character trait as he was by his role in the show in a metatextual sense - Bart was not an archetype but instead more of a comic relief character used to generally subvert the shopworn 'precocious child' of the typical late '80s sitcom (Bart being deliberately written to more realistically mirror an actual rebellious working-class ten-year-old kid of the era) which the writing team of the Simon (and Jean/Reiss to a lesser extent) eras could easily plug into a conflict to display OFF's satirical edge (his role in The Telltale Head is an easily accessible example of this in that the episode uses him as a vehicle for the reality of the youth of the period and contrasts it against Homer's ideology prioritizing popularity). Bart was basically emblematic of the show in its earliest days - a smaller voice speaking out among the crowd of limp-wristed TV family sitcoms from an unexpected place (an animated show, which was otherwise reserved almost solely for kids' entertainment back in the day) in addition to providing the show with a comedic symbol of its 'realism' compared with said sitcoms. Even as the show aged out of 'Bartmania' during the Mirkin and O/W seasons, Bart's character nonetheless remained mostly consistent in this role, albeit in a looser way than before.

    However, the Scully era was ultimately the leading factor which dealt Bart's character an initial blow. By 1997, the show had continued long enough that a majority of sitcoms had begun to borrow from OFF itself (thus extinguishing the vast majority of the softer late '80s family variety), which caused Bart's character to begin to lose its context (particularly as the show itself was rapidly becoming the establishment from which then-newer shows such as King of the Hill based themselves upon, thereby displacing it from its role as a rebellious anti-establishment creative work). Similarly, Bart's character was generally subject to issue as the writers began to simplify the characters increasingly during the Scully era to favour a broader comedic (and ultimately less funny) approach - as Homer became a more irredeemably selfish moron, Marge became a doormat or an insane nag and Lisa became a more generalized intellectual character, Bart had no such traits to easily slap onto him, leaving the writers without a defined role for him (which was accentuated as the Scully era played up the show's absurdity over its disintegrating realism, leaving Bart, once a symbol of the show's subversively 'real' approach, yet more nebulous). However, the killing blow may have been Homer during this era; prior to S9, Homer had largely served as a selfish and lethargic but ultimately well-meaning father figure whose gluttony and idiocy were played to comedic effect. However, owing to the Scully era's simplified approach to characterization and comedy, Homer's stupidity and ego were exaggerated to the extent where, by S10, they had largely evolved into the entirety of his character, which in itself was played as a joke (in that every action or line or his was played for comedy as opposed to being grounded into a more emotional or realistic tone) as opposed to simply his actions or their consequences. Resultantly, the rapidly emerging 'Jerkass Homer' assumed the role of the show's new 'comic relief', thus leaving Bart with no definite role in the series asides from acting as Homer's sidekick in his ubiquitous wacky escapades, which gradually became more prolific than the more grounded plotlines of the earlier seasons. The Jean era did somewhat attempt to rectify this, yet its more awkward approach to writing dialogue and more banal story structure (which renders characters even more vulnerable to oversimplification of their trait, which doesn't exactly work for a character like Bart) in addition to the show's status as anti-establishment now being a decade behind it, resulted in Bart, formerly a symbol of the show's early status and grounded in being a rebellious comic relief character, being flattened into a sociopath, a pathetic loser or an irritating teenager depending on the writer or plot (and additionally due to Al Jean's professed inability to relate to him despite co-running seasons 3 and 4).

    Somehow, I'm disconcerted by how much I wrote there.
    Last edited by Captain Wacky; 02-11-2019 at 02:21 PM.


  2. #2
    Pervert Financial Panther's Avatar
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    Bart’s character has definitely devolved the most out of any main character in the show. I’ve said that many times here. I miss his rambunctious rapscallion days where he was a devious prankster but good at heart. Now he transitions between a sociopath with no remorse and a whiny crybaby. I don’t know what else to add; I completely agree with everything you’ve said. I don’t mind the other characters’ changes, and I actually think in some ways, Homer is better than he was in the Scully era. But I can’t say that about anyone else.
    Favorite and least favorite by season
    1. Krusty Gets Busted There’s No Disgrace Like Home 2. Bart Gets an F Dead Putting Society 3. Homer at the Bat Like Father, Like Clown 4. Brother From the Same Planet Krusty Gets Kancelled 5. Cape Feare Lady Bouvier’s Lover 6. Homer Badman Another Simpsons Clip Show 7. King-Size Homer Lisa the Iconoclast 8. Homer’s Enemy El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer 9. Bart Carny The Trouble With Trillions 10. Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo Homer Simpson in: “Kidney Trouble” 11. Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner? Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder 12. HOMЯ Tennis the Menace 13. Tales From the Public Domain She of Little Faith 14. The Dad Who Knew Too Little Helter Shelter 15. I, Annoyed Grunt)-bot Bart-Mangled Banner 16. A Star is Torn On a Clear Day I Can’t See My Sister 17. My Fair Laddy Bonfire of the Manatees 18. The Haw-Hawed Couple You Kent Always Say What You Want 19. Funeral for a Fiend All About Lisa 20. Gone Maggie Gone The Good, the Sad and the Drugly 21. The Bob Next Door The Color Yellow 22. Donnie Fatso Love is a Many Strangled Thing 23. The Falcon and the D’ohman A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again 24. Hardly Kirk-ing Moonshine River 25. The War of Art What to Expect When Bart’s Expecting 26. Sky Police Let’s Go Fly a Coot 27. Halloween of Horror Lisa With an ‘S’ 28. There Will Be Buds Moho House 29. Springfield Splendor Throw Grampa From the Dane


  3. #3


    Bart is now an over the top caricture with no remorse and the same goes for Homer.

  4. #4
    Pin Pal Shoskin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Wacky View Post
    Having watched a number of Jean/HD-era episodes recently, the extent that Bart's character has shifted surprised me considerably more than before, particularly in light of viewing, say, Moonshine River or Pranks and Greens back-to-back with Radio Bart or Bart vs. Thanksgiving - the former portrays a bizarrely empty (inconsistent) and bipolar whiny adolescent trapped in the body of a ten-year-old boy, whilst the latter features an actual, (mostly) believable portrayal of a ten-year-old and his emotional workings. To this extent, whilst virtually all of the main cast have undergone exaggeration of a handful of their classic-era traits (Homer is now basically a stock cartoon 'dumb' character with anger issues, Marge is an overly critical nag and Lisa is mostly a generic prudish bookworm (with one or two exceptions)), Bart seems to have lost all of his former traits and has resultantly devolved into a vacuum, which renders most of his focus episodes surprisingly listless.

    Addressing why this happened, I suspect it was a combination of factors during the Scully and early Jean eras which lead to Bart's derailment. To place it into perspective, Bart was essentially the show's most iconic (breakout) character during the Simon era, which led to his prominence during that period (notice that he features as a major or significant character in almost every S1 episode). Yes, Homer (at least his Scully-era incarnation) was yet more prolific during the S10-12 period, but I feel the inherent nature of the two trends is different - whilst it's simple to define Homer (lethargic, gluttonous, irresponsible-but-well meaning patriarch), Marge (nurturing and protective maternal figure) and Lisa (childlike big fish in a small pond)'s roles in the Simpsons of the classic era, Bart's role was somewhat more nebulous, and I think this may have played a role in his downfall. During the Bartmania heyday of S1-3 or so, Bart was not so much defined by a consistent single character trait as he was by his role in the show in a metatextual sense - Bart was not an archetype but instead more of a comic relief character used to generally subvert the shopworn 'precocious child' of the typical late '80s sitcom (Bart being deliberately written to more realistically mirror an actual rebellious working-class ten-year-old kid of the era) which the writing team of the Simon (and Jean/Reiss to a lesser extent) eras could easily plug into a conflict to display OFF's satirical edge (his role in The Telltale Head is an easily accessible example of this in that the episode uses him as a vehicle for the reality of the youth of the period and contrasts it against Homer's ideology prioritizing popularity). Bart was basically emblematic of the show in its earliest days - a smaller voice speaking out among the crowd of limp-wristed TV family sitcoms from an unexpected place (an animated show, which was otherwise reserved almost solely for kids' entertainment back in the day) in addition to providing the show with a comedic symbol of its 'realism' compared with said sitcoms. Even as the show aged out of 'Bartmania' during the Mirkin and O/W seasons, Bart's character nonetheless remained mostly consistent in this role, albeit in a looser way than before.

    However, the Scully era was ultimately the leading factor which dealt Bart's character an initial blow. By 1997, the show had continued long enough that a majority of sitcoms had begun to borrow from OFF itself (thus extinguishing the vast majority of the softer late '80s family variety), which caused Bart's character to begin to lose its context (particularly as the show itself was rapidly becoming the establishment from which then-newer shows such as King of the Hill based themselves upon, thereby displacing it from its role as a rebellious anti-establishment creative work). Similarly, Bart's character was generally subject to issue as the writers began to simplify the characters increasingly during the Scully era to favour a broader comedic (and ultimately less funny) approach - as Homer became an irredeemably selfish moron, Marge became a doormat or an insane nag and Lisa became a more generalized intellectual character, Bart had no such traits to easily slap onto him, leaving the writers without a defined role for him (which was accentuated as the Scully era played up the show's absurdity over its disintegrating realism, leaving Bart, once a symbol of the show's subversively 'real' approach, yet more nebulous). However, the killing blow may have been Homer during this era; prior to S9, Homer had largely served as a selfish and lethargic but ultimately well-meaning father figure whose gluttony and idiocy were played to comedic effect. However, owing to the Scully era's simplified approach to characterization and comedy, Homer's stupidity and ego were exaggerated to the extent where, by S10, they had largely evolved into the entirety of his character, which in itself was played as a joke (in that every action or line or his was played for comedy as opposed to being grounded into a more emotional or realistic tone) as opposed to simply his actions or their consequences. Resultantly, the rapidly emerging 'Jerkass Homer' assumed the role of the show's new 'comic relief', thus leaving Bart with no definite role in the series asides from acting as Homer's sidekick in his ubiquitous wacky escapades, which gradually became more prolific than the more grounded plotlines of the earlier seasons. The Jean era did somewhat attempt to rectify this, yet its more awkward approach to writing dialogue and more banal story structure (which renders characters even more vulnerable to oversimplification of their trait, which doesn't exactly work for a character like Bart) in addition to the show's status as anti-establishment now being a decade behind it, resulted in Bart, formerly a symbol of the show's early status and grounded in being a rebellious comic relief character, being flattened into a sociopath, a pathetic loser or an irritating teenager depending on the writer or plot (and additionally due to Al Jean's professed inability to relate to him despite co-running seasons 3 and 4).

    Somehow, I'm disconcerted by how much I wrote there.
    Shit man, that was depressing, but was basically true. I have always said Bart in the beginning was the show. Homer, Lisa and Marge had there moments but it was the Bart shirts we wore. The writers have killed the character. They made or trying to make him into something that he isn't and thats a sociopath. Bart did bad shit, but he wasn't hurtful. Now they seem to make him cruel instead of playful. I'm not sure if they would allow him to pull a prank and have him learn a lesson if Lisa isn't there to spoil his fun. Some of which were clever in its way that Lisa herself once quipped that if he spent more time on studing like than he puts into his pranks he have better grades.

    I do blame Al Jean a lot, which might not to be fair, but he's in charge and could have done better to reel his character in a little. He must have head complaints about how Bart is seen now compared to before. They have made him into the butt of jokes. I mean has he ever watched the episode Boys of Bummer? Wtf, man? That was the cruelest episode of the series. More that the dozen of I'm Lisa and I have no friends which they basically turn more into a cliché and meaningless than anything. One thing he can do is stop trying to force the sociopath angle. Go to the idea as he has artistic talent. In the beginning he always knew right and wrong.

    They also have allowed the show to spout out their political opinions and the main person they use is with Lisa. There was an article I read that was written before the 2016 election that basically said, "Lisa is Hillary and Bart is Trump. I basically thought fuck you. You don't know what you are talking about. Do you actually watch the show? Ever? Well by the points you brought up now, maybe he's right only if you watched the newer episodes? But I think it's a stretch. To think people seeing Bart as having no moral compass makes me wonder can they save him.

    Maybe when the show ends Bart will go out the way he came, singing Jingle Bells and substituting in Batman.
    When a woman says nothing's wrong, it means everything's wrong. When a woman says everything's wrong, it means everything's wrong. And when a woman says that something *isn't* funny, you'd better not laugh your ass off!

  5. #5
    Your Neighborhood Average Joe Purpleberries's Avatar
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    It seems like these days, Bart will either be an awful sociopath or a loser who is the target of unfunny jokes most of the time. This really says a lot about how the show's writers have really watered down and flanderized the show's once multi-dimensional characters.

    Captain Wacky also brought up an interesting point about Bart's original role in the show and how he has become an paper-thin character.

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  7. #6
    Actually an Esquilax Venomrabbit's Avatar
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    Sometimes the writers accidentally come up with some form of continuity for some folks and Bart's one of them.

    I don't like a lot of the "wimpy loser" moments but not for the same reasons as a lot of people, I imagine. Because back in the day, he kinda was a wimpy loser. With the exception of Summer of 4ft 2's opening his supposed popularity is always the flash-in-the-pan sort and oftentimes he's just a wannabe (like at the end of "The Last Temptation of Homer"'s subplot, insisting that the bullies beating him up would be beating one of their own... only for them to beat him up anyway).

    On top of that, for his devil-may-care attitude, there was always a feeling that the things grown ups have or had said about him got to him far more than he let on. In Separate Vocations he starts doing well in school and all it took to go from a delinquent to Skinner's right hand man was just having some hope for the future. Because from his Kindergarten teacher to even characters who usually aren't horrible like Professor Frink, he was constantly told he had no future over the smallest of missteps when he was just a toddler. Hell, as soon as they noticed Bart had those problems his parents immediately... ditched him and focused on Lisa as well. He didn't outwardly express it much but he probably was the saddest Simpson. It's upsettingly common for people like that to underachieve because hey everyone says they're a lost cause, why even bother trying? It's certainly a more convincing portrayal of depressions than just being sad the people you see as complete philistines and inferior genetic scum compared to your ~genius and godliness~ and make no secret of looking down on them don't want to be your friend.

    It's why a lot of complaints regarding him seeming too whiny in Barthood irked me. The kind of treatment he got in that ep and most of the ones before that can destroy someone.

    Thing is, back then when Bart was upset, felt down or cried, the viewer was supposed to sympathize with him especially during bits like near the end of Bart gets an F where he did his absolute best but it still wasn't good enough. It was probably one of the biggest gut-punches in the entire series. Even during the crueler bits like in Bart the Murderer the tone is still "wow that really sucks, sorry, man." but in the Jean era these moments are almost entirely "haha look at this dumb loser he get beat up by girl how stupid haha*" it's always to make a mockery of him which is why Barthood really stood out to me for not constantly doing that. Bart's otherwise endless parade of unbearably bleak futures is never the case of someone who was put down so often they just gave up and just "haha he stupid and smells bad and a losing loser". He suffers routine abuse from his dad and sister and, especially in the latter case, it's always played for laughs and yet when Lisa loses a hat she's had for maybe half an hour we're supposed to feel for her.

    The wimpy loser moments nowadays are maddening because he's almost certainly the character in most dire need of a freaking hug yet is only treated with scorn by both the people around him and the narrative.

    And that's what brings about the "accidental narrative" thing about, and why I can't be too mad when he is portrayed like an uncaring sociopath (... although that's something Lisa does better than him tbh) because that frankly feels like a natural response to everything around him. The entire world made it clear that it not only doesn't care about him but will try and make his life worse at any opportunity and he did the same thing as with academics, gave up. Except that's not actually what's intended so it's not like I can give them credit for being secretly brilliant.

    That said, Bart's moral compass when he's at his best tends to be way more flexible, y'know, everything is relative, like how he was talked into Fat Tony's explanation for the cigarette truck but was also horrified at the idea that he might have gotten Skinner killed. The kind of person who might use his artistic talents for counterfeiting works because hey, some rich ponce gets some art they can easily afford, he gets some stacks of cash, everyone's happy. But then wouldn't ever try to rip off someone that say, couldn't afford to lose money on something like that or where he could seriously risk ruining someone's life.


  8. #7
    Grappling with Local Oaf Beggs's Avatar
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    It's even more jarring when you go back to the first season and you see Bart affectionately calling Homer "Pop", and on occasion, even calling him "sir". In fact, Bart addressed quite a few men as "sir" in the early days, including Skinner.

    I think that fear/grudging respect of authority was a big part of his early characterisation that has been lost. Lisa's line about Bart missing Skinner as an enemy in "Sweet Seymour Skinner's..." is somewhat prophetic about his future characterisation. Without viable authoritative figures to both fear and rebel against - Homer as his parent, Skinner as his principal - Bart doesn't really have any competition or stakes. I think that's exacerbated his "sociopath" tendencies in later years. He walks all over any supposed authority figure that stands in his way.

    I'd say the decline of other characters in general has had a large effect on his character, because it's changed their interactions. Going back to his relationship with Homer, while there was always a sense of antagonism there, what with Bart being a brat and a troublemaker, there was a genuine father-son bond there. Comically dysfunctional at times, sure, but there was also a real sense of affection and respect on some level. Homer even indulged some of Bart's acting out, being a bit of a big kid himself. The family's night at the opera provides some good examples of how they enjoyed each other's company early on:



    The point about Bart acting a little older is also a good one. I think it goes back to the issue that's been discussed in a couple of other threads: the longer the show has run, the more the kids' ages have become a barrier to some of the stories the writers want to tell, so they just try their best to force a square peg into a round hole. We see it with Lisa as well. In recent years, her sarcastic cynicism would be more appropriate for a teenager, rather than an eight year old. Her relationship with Bart has also become more strained, less squabbling between siblings and more disdainful.

    I also feel that attempts to be edgier have contributed to Bart's decline in characterisation. In the early 90s, the show was more controversial, and Bart stood out as cool, rebellious, and as far as animated child characters go, a bit of a bad boy. As the years progressed and other shows came along and pushed the envelope further, Bart's antics and character seem rather tame, so the writers have tried to give him his edge back as best they can given the overall tone of the show. When they're not trying to do that, they just treat him as a punching bag, which becomes rather depressing after a while.

    Finally, there's the matter of his intelligence. While he's never been academically brilliant, Bart has shown to be clever his own way, and capable of making rather witty remarks and observations. The wit is kind of there, sometimes, but a lot of his cleverness has been stripped away over the years.
    A little less Generic than before.


  9. #8
    Actually an Esquilax Venomrabbit's Avatar
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    Now that you mention the sarcastic cynicism, while it wasn't always 100% but it suited Bart more. Lisa wasn't exactly a doe-eyed bubblehead or anything but she was more... positive? Naive? I'm not getting one single word to describe it but she used to be the kind of person who actually had some faith in "the system" in Mr.Lisa goes to Washington. Or got excited for ABC's TGIF shows, with Bart insisting she'll learn that it's "just another day between NBC's Must See Thursday and CBS' Saturday night craporama." In "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" Bart (and co) heckled the mall santa while unless she recognised Homer, Lisa seemed more the type who'd actually buy into that sorta thing, and nowadays it'd probably be the opposite way around.

    The things you mentioned about Homer are pretty spot on too. Sometimes the boy would drive him mad and uh, there were still the strangling back then but the rest of the time Homer seemed pretty fond of him, whereas now of course he can't stand Bart most of the time.

  10. #9


    A lot of good points are being made here. I feel like Bart's character has suffered a lot because the writers don't know what to do with him. I remember in the early seasons, the writers had trouble with Marge more than anyone else, but now, I feel like they're just bored with Bart and see him as expendable. As the years went on, the characters all slid into easy stereotypes - Homer became a braindead asshole, Marge became a doormat accepting all of Homer's flaws, Lisa became a smug intellectual, but Bart just kinda.....disappeared for a while. And when he came back, they didn't know what to do with him. He pulls pranks, but it's at the point where the show knows they're lame and old-school. So it's either that or he's the black sheep of the family who knows he isn't worth shit and spends the whole episode lamenting that. Like with "Daddicus Finch" where Bart was upset that no one was paying attention to him, and he ended up getting his ass kicked by Lisa. Or in the movie where he suddenly realized that Homer was a terrible father and wanted to spend time with Flanders because for some reason, Marge couldn't provide the love and support he wanted from a parent.

    One thing I notice when watching earlier episodes and the episodes being made now is that Bart isn't as charming as he used to be. In the classic years, he had this unique wit about him. He wasn't someone to just get upset that things weren't going his way. He had a positive energy and always tried to make the best out of a bad situation. He was like a car salesman, a motivational speaker, and a fight promoter all rolled up in one. Some of the best lines in the series came from his quick wit and ability to see things in a more complex way than everyone gave him credit for. He had a perspective on life that no one else provided. After Mike Scully took over, he started getting ignored more as a singular character and became Homer's goofy sidekick. And the more Homer declined, the more it affected Bart because Homer took some of Bart's traits and made them worse. After a while, Bart just became a really generic character that anyone could write for. He lost a lot of that unique wit he used to have, and became the least important member of the family. Well, next to Maggie.

    That's why I love "A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again." It felt like the writers giving Bart a chance to become an actual character again. It wasn't the classic Bart, but he at least went through a story here, questioning the meaning of the good things in life because they don't last forever and wanting to stay on vacation because not only was he having fun, so was his family. There was also a trace of old-school Bart in that he tried to improve the situation on his own by selling his belongings to pay for the cruise. It was at least better than having him be depressed and whiny because the Simpsons couldn't afford to go on the trip.


  11. #10
    don't quite cover all CousinMerl's Avatar
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    A lot of interesting and relevant stuff has been said already and also elaborated on quite a bit so I'll just drop my personal thoughs on the changes Bart's seen as of late.

    It's a shame he's regressed and something that bothers me a bit more than him being a sissy and a coward is how he lost much of his established empathy and become something of a sociopath who seems to enjoy inflicting pain on others and doesn't feel bad after having done so or anything else bad. Gone are many of those moments where he has shown that beneath his tough exterior he has a heart and feels remorse and they are replaced with some more or less sadistic moments of him doing stuff that directly hurts people and being happy about it. This was pretty frequent last season (29) but it's been less of that during the current one which is good.

    Something else that's almost as annoying and bothersome as literal sociopath Bart is the way he doesn't care about what negative stuff people say about him and that he's labeled as a loser with no good future in store for him to the point of being proud of it (even when he hears that Lisa lied about her not having a brother in 'The Girl On The Bus') and even selling out completely (I'm reminded of the subplot of 'Singin In The Lane' of him willfully being the servant of that group of wealthy guys who treat him like crap and not seeing anything wrong with that; I still cannot believe they thought that was a good Bart plot. Sinking so low felt so unlike him).

    More and more he has also cheaply been the butt of jokes and from time to time almost feels like he's looked down upon by the other family members, even Marge who seem to treat him as mentally handicapped of sorts on occasion (or that is at least what it feels like). It is true as has been said above about him rarely getting any real attention, love and warmth of the other family members, something which Lisa and Maggie so often gets, and that neglect feels like it contributes to him going through these more or less drastic personality changes.

    I've said before that if the family cooperated on showing him love and guiding him as well as supporting and nurturing his obviously creative and artistic side he could become better and more like he used to (if not better overall) but Lisa treats him rather poorly and Homer and Marge focus so much on his sisters (especially Lisa) and forgets him which might be what contributes to him caring less and less and altogether stopped caring about many things that used to be important to him earlier, becoming more overtly sensitive and whiny, and lacking much of that bad boy attitude, having moments of depression and displaying less empathy (though the last one sometimes comes off as a retcon thing).

    Of the devolutions of characterizations on the show, his is perhaps the one I feel the most for as he's often reduced to something of a joke and a punching bag yet doesn't seem to mind. It's rather disheartening.
    Last edited by CousinMerl; 02-18-2019 at 12:23 AM.


  12. #11


    Simpsons Guy is the best critique for Barts characterization given how much they screwed the pooch with that episode.

    They paired up Stewie with Bart and Lisa with Meg however Bart and Meg have far more in common with each other, even on a meta level.

    In universe the reason Bart and Meg are abused and neglected so much is that they are the first born and their parents resent them for that. This abuse causes them to act out to get some form of attention even if it’s negative and when they do get positive attention it causes a drastic change in personality. For Bart he becomes a much better person while Meg goes crazy. Finally both are shown to be better musicians than Lisa. On a meta level Meg is treated so harsh because the show writers don’t know how to write a girl so that’s their go to. The reason Lisa isn’t abused is because the writers refused to have Homer strangling a girl. The reason the abuse got worse actually is Al Jean’s fault. Lisa is his favorite character to write for because he has daughters. This leaves Bart out to pasture. I agree with everyone they’ve ran out of things to do with Bart so they rely of the abuse to the point where it has reached the Comedic Sociopathic levels of family guy.

    I still find it disturbing that for two consecutive episodes (29th finale/30th premier) Homer didn’t have a care in the world when his stupidity put his life in danger 30 also shows that he cares more about a statue then his son.

    The future episodes also play a big role in his characterization. I mentioned it in my thoughts of when the Simpsons lost its way. The new rules only the future episodes means that Bart is the only family member in the show that suffers consequences. Bart is a future loser because of the flaws he has at 10 years old. Yet Lisa’s flaws don’t affect her future. Not only is she always successful she always graduates 2 years early, even though its already established that she can’t handle being top dog. Then they added children into the mix and stated that children naturally like their grandparents better then their parents. The reason for Abe’s and Homer’s horrible relationship is because Abe was an abusive asshole. The reason for Homer and Bart’s horrible relationship is because Homer is an abusive asshole. While Bart is a bit of a deadbeat he’s never shown to be abusive.

    Barthood isn’t any better given the one shown to be in the wrong in that episode isn’t Homer who bluntly 'admits' that he doesn't want anything to do with Bart, and can't say one nice thing to his son that isn't backhanded. It isn’t Marge who while not as outright abusive as Homer, but like him continuously pits Bart and Lisa against each other (which is one of the more subtle but particularly odious forms of bad parenting/child abuse), and repeatedly tells him to his face that he’s an accident who will never amount to anything. At best she acknowledges there is a problem, but doesn’t do anything to solve it. It isn’t Lisa who Bart is frequently compared to and is always treated better (though this isn't her fault), downplays his sense of inferiority by comparing it to the fact she got into Yale University the second best school in the country and not the best college, constantly showed him up for no reason, with some of them being on purpose, repeatedly forced him to give up his chances at success because of jealousy and resentment. It was Bart who is told to get over it, and even then they show Bart has to cut his family out of his life if he wants to be happy.

    Its especially egregious when you realize that there is no reason for Barts future to be so bleak, his Oscar winning short, the money and royaties from his tea shirts, viagragain. The fact that it is means that you can add financial abuse to marge and homers list of crimes they’ve stolen thousand, hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of dollars from their ten year old son while continuously telling him that they hate him.

    When you think about it Bart’s characterization has always revolved around the fact that he’s an abuse victim. Compare Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie and Love is a Many Strangled Thing and their connection to Lisa’s Sax.

    Bart only started acting out after Homer and Marge had punished him then let him off. Postcards from the Wedge follows this principle as well Bart only started manipulating them after Marge told him not to do his homework.

    Now look at Bart does when they either follow through with their punishment or ignore him completely. In Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie he eventually becomes a Supreme Court judge, in the Parent Rap he almost gets on the honor roll, while in Postcards from the Wedge he attempted to destroy the town. Much Apu About Nothing had him do a full 180. This shows that Bart is not a brat he’s self destructive. His parents only seem willing to give him attention when he’s blowing something up so that’s what he does. And in those rare times when it looks like they are about to act like real parent and punish him for his bad deeds or make him do his work only to turn around and say forget it he makes his opinion known.

    In Bart of Darkness when he broke his leg they just locked him in his room and even after noticing that this was having a negative effect on him they still left him there by himself. This would also explain animosity towards Homer and Skinner. In Lisa’s Sax, Homer outright said "Screw Bart, Lisa needs our attention!" And Skinner never showed his face until after Bart started acting out.

    Even that has disturbing undertones Lisa’s Sax is a physical representation of how little his parents care about him.

    As the abuse got worse Barts behavior reflected it.


  13. #12
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    Later, I believe there is a second reference to Bart becoming a Supreme Court Justice.

    Bart also mentions planning to go to law school in the first future episode.

    It seems to be a solid part of his future.

    Perhaps being treated badly as a kid pushed him to seek justice in the end. I'm not condoning abuse with that statement.

  14. #13


    those were the first future episodes i was talking about after bart of the future



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