Ahhh, remember the early 90's? The days when the biggest threats to our youth, in the eyes of parents and teachers ever were video games, alternative music, and Springfield Elementary's famous troublemaking fourth-grader, Bart Simpson? A newly unearthed ABC News clip from 1990, courtesy of pop culture aggregate site, Boing Boing, highlights exactly how insane the Bart-anic panic became following The Simpsons premiere in 1989, culimiating in the iconic character being banned in classrooms across the nation.
"Spike-haired, bug-eyed Bart Simpson, age 10, is the show's star and the family brat," anchor Chris Bury says, amid clips of Homer and Marge's eldest child zipping through the streets on his skateboard, calling some poor, unwitting Springfieldian's home a dump, and snark-ily denying any wrongdoing as his mother reads a note from school. "He is rude, mischievous, and often in hot water. This time, it was Bart's wise-cracking t-shirts that are in trouble. This one has been expelled from some schools for its profanity," Bury explained, an image of a t-shirt reading "I'm Bart Simpson, who the hell are you." '"Another, 'Underachiever and proud' of it has been kicked out of classes from Orange, California to Freemont, Ohio," he explained. On the heels of revealing the offending T-Shirts, Bury then takes to the streets of local elementary schools, asking kids for their take on the fiasco -- unfortunately, through a single microphone, as opposed to several stacked megaphones.
"It's just a cartoon, we won't act like Bart Simpson," one child told the anchor.
"If you're an underachiever, you shouldn't be proud of it," added another. Speak for yourself, pal, I'm sticking with Bartman on this one. Amid the brouhaha, Fox TV apparently issued a statement addressing the controversial character's t-shirt appearances, Bury noting that "The Simpsons' network, Fox TV will say only that Bart respects elementary school principals --even the ones who have nothing better to do than tell kids what to wear". I'm sure Principal Skinner would have some choice words about that claim right there ...
Potential disputes from Springfield Elementary school aside, no 90's panic-provoking package on cartoon characters corrupting our impressionable youth would not be complete without an adequate counterargument, coming towards the end of the approximately two-minute package. "This is something that they can grab onto and identify with," said Dr. Barbara Kadow, sporting a gloriously '90s pre-Friends, Friends blowout. "If Bart's having problems and making it and doing ok, maybe I can make it and do alright, too." Your Friday inspiration, folks!
So, readers remember, if some fogie disses your Bart Simpson digs, do as El Barto would do -- tell 'em to eat your commemorative T-Shirt.