Teaching Kids via The Simpsons, Not the News

More than  ten years ago I was lecturing journalism students at AUT University in Auckland about the fast changing narratives in television.

I told them I would rather my children watch The Simpsons in prime time that the 6 o’clock news. They would learn more about society, and more about multiple layers of contexts in our world. The sophistocation of a Simpsons script far ouweighted that of the news.  I was commenting too about how so called fiction and so called fact blur in terms of our reality.

I was new to academia and wrote my lecture off the cuff, without much knowledge of theoretic concepts,  having come from an industry rather than academic background. A colleague told me my lecture had been all about postmodernism. News to me. The episode I had discussed had ripped off Rupert Murdoch and his controlling power over global media.

I bumped into a student who had attended this lecture recently at party. Now a senior public relations practitioner, they recounted the story I had told about my kids and The Simpsons. It had stuck with her for a decade.

A key part of the resonance in this case was the juxtaposition of fact and fiction, of a cartoon and a ‘reality’ programme, and the suggestion that ran counter intuitively that the fiction was more factual than the news.