Awww — OG ‘Simpsons’ Director Shares First ‘Homer Strangles Bart’ Drawing
Just in time for the holidays, one of the OG Simpsons creators, director David Silverman, has shared what is likely the very first “Homer strangles Bart” illustration, dating all the way back to the Tracey Ullman days. Bart’s siblings don’t seem too broken up about the corporal punishment, mocking their brother with their own GAAAAHHHH! faces. This one is from a 1988 episode called “Family Portrait.”
It’s the latest throwdown in the Should He Strangle or Shouldn’t He? controversy surrounding The Simpsons. It started earlier this fall when the show aired an episode with Homer showing off his grip strength, enhanced by years of strangulating his son. “See, Marge? Strangling the boy has paid off!” But Homer seemed to be signaling a new era when he declared, “Just kidding, I don’t do that anymore. Times have changed.”
Media reported that a new day had dawned on the long-running comedy, but the show’s producers were quick to nix that idea. Not only was Homer still in the asphyxiation business, The Simpsons accused news outlets of exploiting Homer’s enlightened parenting skills for clicks.
Simpsons co-creator James L. Brooks jumped into the fray as well. “Don’t think for a second we’re changing anything,” he told PEOPLE. “Nothing's getting tamed. Nothing, nothing, nothing. He'll continue to be strangled—(if) you want to use that awful term for it.” It isn’t clear what less-awful term Brooks has in mind. Choked? Gagged? Throttled? Pick your euphemism but the bottom line remains the same: Bart will “continue to be loved by his father in a specific way.”
Despite creators’ insistence that neck grappling will continue to be a show staple, IGN pointed out that the show, consciously or unconsciously, has moved away from that particular aggression. In fact, Homer hasn’t strangled “the boy” since Season 31, which aired between 2019 and 2020.
Now it seems we’re guaranteed to see it again. It’s the same phenomenon that compels Dave Chappelle to keep telling trans jokes -- once the world says something is off-limits, a certain kind of comic mind has to go there. It’s in the DNA, that same gene that practically forced Gilbert Gottfried to tell those awful airline jokes just days after 9/11. “Maybe I’m self-destructive, maybe I’m just plain stupid,” he said on the Good One podcast. “But if someone tells me don’t do something, then I want to do it.”
Silverman appears to be cut from the same cloth as he doubles down on choking as comedy. “It won’t be the last time I draw this…”