How The Simpsons Movie Used Humor to Comply With Censors

The Simpsons, as a series, has covered multiple genres and topics since it debuted in the early ’90s. However, even in the modern age, the show’s creators have still managed to churn out fun ideas that make each episode a treat. But even now, they’ve yet to push the boundaries in a way that compares to what was done in The Simpsons Movie. From dealing with the hilarity of politics to serious issues like environmentalism and crowd mentalities toward it, The Simpsons Movie proved to be ahead of the curve once again. But the film also took advantage of one aspect that television couldn’t — nudity.

While The Simpsons Movie played and felt like an extra-length episode, certain moments made the film feel more cinematic than anything that came before. One of the best ways the movie did this was through its animation. With a higher focus on shading and even bolder colors, the film had much more visual depth than any of its episodes. However, The Simpsons Movie also pushed things farther when it chose to show Bart Simpson in his birthday suit with a brief focus on his unmentionables. However, Reddit user JDXAwe discovered that when the film would air on television, creators worked with the censors in the funniest way possible.

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What Happened to Bart in The Simpsons Movie?

The Simpsons Movie’s main plot was mostly about how the Simpsons would ultimately save Springfield from being destroyed after their wasteful habits forced the entire town to be domed off to keep the rest of the planet safe. However, like any episode, its B-plot led directly into the A-plot and showed how certain chains of events could affect the story. In this case, Bart was the subject of a host of dares between him and Homer that escalated until he was dared to skateboard through the town in the nude. After some quick deliberation, Bart agreed and skated through Springfield.

What made the scene so funny was how most of the scene was animated to keep Bart’s private areas covered, a gag that’s been used in movies and TV before. However, at the last possible second, there was a moment where everything could be seen. While the moment itself was played for laughs, it would further develop the film’s B-plot and have Bart look to Ned Flanders as a father figure, forcing Homer to be a better father as well.

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How Did Creators Comply With the Censors?

This particular scene that showcased Bart’s privates couldn’t be shown on television. That said, the scene couldn’t be outright cut either, as it played directly into the next scene that saw the police chasing Bart. So to comply, the film instead showed a massive black bar that stated: „European Version Only.“ Not only was this funny, as it’s obvious for North American audiences that this level of nudity couldn’t be shown, but it also played on Europe’s notoriously lax form of censorship on TV.

Another thing that added to the overall humor of the moment was that it perfectly showcased how versed in TV rules the creators of The Simpsons have been. However, it also showed how that history impacted just how far they could push the envelope. The Simpsons have been such a staple of TV for so many decades. As a result, what may seem like a gag that’s fitting for the series, represents just how aware its creators are and how they could take an otherwise controversial topic such as censorship and use it to place a fitting joke instead.