Banksy and The Simpsons: Exploring the Iconic Crossover Between Two of the Most Enduring Artistic Forces of Our Time

American animated sitcom The Simpsons, a beloved animated series on the air for over three decades created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company, is widely known for its humour, satire, and iconic opening sequence. However, in the third episode of the twenty-second season, titled “MoneyBart”, the show’s opening sequence (couch gag) received a striking makeover that left viewers astonished and in awe!

The episode, written by Tim Long and aired on October 10, 2010, centres around Lisa as she plays the coach for Bart’s little league baseball team. Using her book smarts in statistics and probability, Lisa leads the team to a record-breaking winning streak. But when Bart accuses Lisa of taking the fun out of baseball, he is benched from the championship game, causing tension between the two siblings.

However, the episode’s plot was not the only aspect that caught viewers’ attention. The opening sequence, created by British graffiti artist and political activist Banksy, featured a darker, more satirical take on The Simpsons’ usual animation process. Banksy’s sequence highlighted the harsh working conditions and environmental damage caused by the animation industry. Banksy stated he had been “inspired by reports that Simpsons characters are animated in Seoul, South Korea.”

The show’s executive producer, Al Jean, discovered Banksy after watching his 2010 film Exit Through The Gift Shop. Al Jean envisioned the idea of a graffiti artist tagging their main titles and decided to approach Banksy to write a main title for the show. Banksy sent his storyboard to The Simpsons Casting Director Bonnie Pietila, which series creator Matt Groening accepted. Although Fox’s standard practices department demanded some changes, Jean agreed to them “for taste,” Banksy’s storyboard was mostly retained, with only 5% being censored for undisclosed reasons.

It was the first time an artist had been invited to storyboard the show.

The Couch Gag by Banksy

The opening sequence begins like any other: we fly through Springfield and spot Banksy tags; Bart is seen staying behind at school writing 100 lines all over the walls, “I must not write all over the walls.”

Banksy x The Simpsons Couch Gap. Season 22, Episode 3, Image copyright The Simpsons

Then, we see the Simpson family returning home and sitting on the couch. But then, the camera zooms out to reveal that the scene is a picture hanging on the wall of a fictional, overseas Asian animation and merchandise sweatshop. The animation quickly becomes drab and grey, and the music turns dramatic à la Schindler’s List.

Image copyright January 2011

The sequence then shows a large group of exhausted and sickly artists drawing animation cells for The Simpsons amidst piles of human bones and toxic waste. A female artist hands a barefoot child employee an animation cell, which he washes in a vat of biohazardous fluid.

Image copyright January 2011

The camera then tracks down to a lower floor of the building, where small kittens are thrown into a woodchipper-type machine, providing the filling for Bart Simpson plush dolls. The toys are then placed into a cart pulled by a sad panda driven by a man with a whip.

Image copyright January 2011

A man shipping boxes with The Simpsons logo on the side uses the tongue from a severed dolphin head to fasten the packages. Another worker uses the horn of a sickly unicorn to smash the holes in the centre of The Simpsons DVDs. The shot zooms out to reveal that the sweatshop is contained within a grim version of the 20th Century Fox logo, surrounded by barbed wire, searchlights, and a watchtower.

Image copyright January 2011

The sequence was a stark departure from the usual, lighthearted opening, leaving viewers shocked and impressed. Banksy’s opening sequence was a poignant commentary on the animation industry’s exploitation of cheap labour and disregard for environmental and human rights. The sequence also highlighted The Simpsons’ own dependence on outsourcing animation to foreign countries, a practice that has been criticised for its negative impact on the animation industry.

In January 2011, Banksy published the original storyboard on his website. It appears that a poster of Murdoch has been left out of the final cut.

Original Story Board by Banksy

Image copyright January 2011

MoneyBart Couch Gag

The opening sequence of “MoneyBart,” directed by Banksy, left an indelible mark on The Simpsons’ history. To witness this iconic moment, viewers can tune in to the ” MoneyBart ” episode from Season #22, Episode #3, and watch Banksy’s directing of The Simpsons Intro Couch Gag, which premiered on October 10, 2010. The episode was a huge success, reaching 6.74 million households and remains a fan favourite.

Please find below the opening sequence of the ‘MoneyBart’ episode via BanksyFilm.

via BanksyFilm



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