Boys are in trouble, but who's to blame?
by Shawn Presley
In 2006, the New York Times declared that college women were leaving college men in the dust. The observation was well put. Two out of three college graduates are women. Women have better grades and receive more honors. As early as grade school, boys are more likely to be expelled and experience behavioral problems.
So, who's to blame? D'oh! It's The Simpsons. The long-running TV show first aired in 1989. It has glamorized Bart's foolishness and heralded Lisa's smarts for so long that today's youth can't remember a time when it wasn't cool for girls to be smarter than boys.
As the Bulletin examines the gender gap in higher education (see "An Indelicate Balance"), who better than Bart and Lisa Simpson to discuss their own influence on society. They recently agreed to an interview with the Bulletin.
Bulletin: Why are boys falling behind in school at such an early age?
Lisa Simpson: It's simple. They watch too much TV. It gives them shorter attention spans. Even I like to watch a little Itchy and Scratchy, but there must be limits.
Bart Simpson: No one in the family watches as much TV since Lisa banned Fox because they own chemical weapon plants in Syria. You can learn from TV. The Flintstones taught us that pelicans can mix cement.
Bulletin: Critics argue that the show is a bad influence on children.
Lisa: They aren't accounting for the fact that I've championed animal rights, the environment, and even the Free Tibet Movement.
Bart: Yeah, and don't forget she made us march in that stupid gay rights parade. I'm still taking flack for that.
Bulletin: Lisa, do you think your role as a feminist is a positive influence for girls?
Lisa: Oh, absolutely.
Bart: Hey, I support women's rights. I promised Principal Figgins not to snap bra straps and not to draw naked ladies on my desk.
Bulletin: Bart, you make bad grades and don't care. What kind of message does that send to boys?
Bart: Where's the john, man?
Bulletin: You're good at avoiding questions. Ever considered a career as a politician?
Bart: Dude, your questions are stupid. I haven't been this bored since Lisa made the family watch a foreign film.
Lisa: Any mention of politics sets Bart on fire. He's still angry at the conservatives who lobbied to ban Bart Simpson T-shirts in schools. I'm in favor of free speech, but even I thought the slogan "Underachiever and Proud of It" was a bit much.
Bulletin: Lisa, to what do you attribute your own academic success?
Lisa: I'm a voracious reader. I love all things literary. I could see myself at Kenyon one day.
Bart: Oh, Lisa, eat my shorts. Dad said he read To Kill a Mockingbird and it told him nothing about how to kill a mockingbird.
Bulletin: Well, Bart, don't you think your lack of scholarly pursuits may hinder your future career?
Bart: May I point out that I have been working for more than twenty years in one of TV's most successful shows? I deserve a little credit, man.
Lisa: You've been coasting on the talent of our animators for a long time. You better hope they never strike.
Bulletin: Why are women excelling in the workplace while men are losing their jobs?
Bart: I'll take this one. It's because unfair work practices are imposed on men. Remember the episode where Dad didn't go to work because they said if he was late one more time they would fire him? Men don't want to take those risks, so they don't show up at all.
Bulletin: Is the problem with boys something that starts at home or in school?
Bart: It starts at home. Parents are so caught up in encouraging their children they are blind to their child's stupidity.
Lisa: Bart, do you have any goals in life aside from making our parents less ashamed of you?
Bart: Staying out of juvie.
Bulletin: It's been such a pleasure visiting with both of you. Lisa, you don't look a day older than when the series debuted in 1989.
Lisa: Thank you. Despite my strong feminist views, I'm not above having a little work.
Bart: Oh, man, if you don't shut up, I'm going to staple a flag to your butt and mail you to Iran.
Art by Dan Shefelman '84