Monday, October 24, 2011

Lesson #1: From "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" [S01, E01]

How exciting, our first (real) blog entry!

Lesson #1: Adults will lie about anything to keep people happy.

As children, many of us were taught that lying was wrong under any circumstance. Many parents tell their kids lying will make them a "bad person." Even the Bible states that lying is a sin and doing so would be breaking a commandment. Yet, somehow, the farther away from childhood we get, the more lying becomes acceptable and even necessary to get by in society.

Season 1, episode 1 provides many examples of our first life lesson. From the beginning of the episode, Homer and Marge lie to Bart and Lisa about the existence Santa Claus. We know, we know, many parents do this for their children to enhance the holiday and make it more fun for their kids. Bart, who is older than Lisa, already knows Santa is a myth; Lisa, however, still believes that Santa will bring her a pony, which has been a request for three years in a row, causing Marge to tell her to "take a hint." Marge lies to Lisa again, saying the pony "won't fit in Santa's sleigh," even though they really just can't afford to buy a pony, let alone house and care for the animal. Parents tell a small, fun lie in the beginning of their children's lives to further a holiday tradition, but might not realize how big or messy the lie could get. The majority of the children find out the truth from someone other than their parents, be it self-discovery (waking up to find out their parents are putting presents under the tree), a school friend (thank a lot, Gosselin children!), the media/internet, etc. Even though it might seem petty, learning Santa Claus wasn't real was devastating, for me at least. I realized my parents were Santa Claus when I compared the handwriting on two gifts. Insert crying-for-days here.

After Marge is forced to spend the family's savings removing Bart's tattoo and Homer learns the unfortunate truth about not receiving his Christmas bonus, Homer chooses to deceive to his family about their financial status to keep spirits high and happy, instead of telling them the more painful reality. Forced to take a second job, Homer's mountain of deception keeps getting bigger. Many of us, especially in a downward economy with high unemployment rates, know how easy it is to pad a resume or expand upon the truth in job interviews. We learn, as applicants, that we are often forced to tell interviewers what they want to hear as opposed to what we really think. Homer is no different. In an interview to become a mall Santa, he fibs about liking children in order to procure a position. Even this job involves telling lies! Homer is instructed to tell any child questioning his authenticity that Santa is a very busy person and he is simply "one of Santa's helpers."

Many of today's lies seem to come from the desire to to keep up positive appearances. In the beginning, Homer doesn't tell anyone else about even having the second job, which makes him fabricate his whereabouts all of the time. When he returns home from work, he bites his tongue and goes out of his way to make Marge's sisters feel welcome, complimenting them even when they are rude and snarky. We know this is probably true for many people who don't get along with their in-laws; people act cordial to one another even though, secretly, they feel like heads should roll...but, back to the point. Since Homer can't even afford a Christmas tree, he goes to someone's private residence, cuts one down, and steals it in the middle of the night to save face in front of his family. When Bart comes to see the mall Santa and realizes it is his father, Homer then forces Bart to keep his secret, bringing his child into his web of lies.

Bottom line? People lie. Adults lie to their kids, kids fib to their parents, people tell white lies and untruths in job interviews, family members deceive one another, all in the name of preserving dignity and, often, with good intentions in mind. "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" shows us that, while his life is seeming spinning out of control, Homer does everything he can to keep his family content on believing that Christmas is still within their grasp, even if it means putting up a front to do so.

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