A Constructed Community within American Pop-Culture and the Nature of Identity

By A. Justin Del Giudice (2009)

NOTE: Below is only an excerpt from the paper. The full version of this paper is available as a PDF file.
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"I'm never going to find that tree, this whole raid's been as useless as that yellow-shaped rock over there...hey, there's a lemon behind that rock...the tree"-Bart Simpson

 As Bart so eloquently put it, the uselessness of the yellow shaped rock can be used as a metaphor to represent the Simpsons as a cultural phenomenon. If we take the Simpsons at face value, simply being a childish cartoon show that is nothing more than comedic entertainment, of no concern to nationalist study, it becomes a “useless rock” like the one found by Bart. But if we delve deeper using analytical tools of nationalism to deconstruct the Simpsons, looking beyond the façade of the “rock” which impedes our analysis, it is soon evident that the Simpsons as a case-study is as useful as the concealed lemon used to symbolize the identity of Springfield as a constructed community. Whether the show was intentionally filled with nationalist rhetoric by the writing staff or if it is by pure coincidence, it makes no difference, the examples are abundant.

There are four notable episodes which provide examples of Springfield as a constructed community – a land area with defined boundaries whose people share a common identity, traditions, symbols, and ceremonies of commemoration used to support these idealized notions of who the people of Springfield are and what their town represents to them in terms of nationalist principles. These four episodes being: Lisa the Iconoclast; Lemon of Troy; The Telltale Head; and Whacking Day. Using theoretical concepts of nationalist study, this paper will engage the content of the above episodes in analysis in order to first and foremost determine if Springfield is a nation, in the sense that its inhabitants share a common (though constructed) identity, history, symbols and traditions. Upon discovering if Springfield is a nation, the paper will then turn to analyze the idea of a constructed community, namely what nationalist processes are ongoing within this community in order to solidify its national identity. For example what sort of identity-building activities or ceremonies of commemoration are continuously present in the life of Springfield, ensuring Springfield’s national solidarity by continuously reminding its’ citizens of their identity as Springfieldianites and loyalty to the nation as citizens.

After the split between Springfield and Shelbyville, the people of Springfield planted a lemon tree to commemorate that “Sweet, sweet day…lemons being the sweetest fruit available at the time”.

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Last updated on November 1, 2009 by Jouni Paakkinen (