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Bansky Directs Simpsons Intro. Fox says “Watch it on Hulu”

10.11.10   |   Posted in: Art & Design   |   By: Toshi Jones
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Today we might ask ourselves, “What exactly amounts to selling out?” or “How street can you be when your directing the most main stream thing on TV?” or perhaps “What is the social commentary worth if the “MAN” airs it for you?” We are of course referring to the most recent work of the illusive Banksy, a scathing criticism of Fox and its outsourced abuses in the form of the Simpsons Intro. Human rights and cultural criticisms aside, I think this whole ordeal brings up other extremely good points. Almost none of us would have known that this piece ever aired because no one stays home on Sunday nights to watch the Simpsons, a point raised earlier today by Alexia Tsotsis of TechCrunch.

The Bansky camp uploaded the clip to Youtube late Sunday (October 10th) and incited an incredible amount of viral momentum with some 42,000 views in less than 24 hours. Fox strategically gave it about a day before removing the video from YouTube for IP violations. What they were openly hoping to do was transfer the momentum over to Hulu and harness some of Bansy’s street cred on their own monetized terms. It doesn’t quite work that way when Hulu forces viewers not only to consume ads but to view the less send friendly 21 minute episode.

Entertainment Weekly missed the mark by asking “How did the show get away with airing this? It puts both Fox and The Simpsons in a bad light, whether or not the reports about South Korea are true. Is this simply the rebuttal? Is this supposed to be funny? Are we supposed to laugh at this? Should The Simpsons be co-opting criticism of their show and making light of it?” The root of this was never about these very apt issues. Fox really doesn’t care if Bansky openly criticizes them on air, or calls them out for their outsourcing. Fox needs all of the free advertising it can get. And because many of us old loyal fans of the Simpsons now watch on Hulu, there’s really no excitement in it any more. This was targeted directly at us. A sea of twenty and thirty somethings who have a soft spot for the Simpsons and who are intrigued by Bansky and his work.

Again Bansky reminds us that there is a consequence to our consumption. But one cannot step away before asking, “Is this the end of Banksy?” In this his second main stream association in recent months, the first being a few vague references in the 30 Seconds to Mars video for Kings + Queens. We totally get the Simpsons, they get to associate themselves to an emerging trend and Banksy gets a little old school cred. But when you pair the two appearances together it all seems too commercial.

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