The Cartridge Family

Anton Sherwood (
Thu, 6 Nov 1997 18:08:39 -0800 (PST)

"Guns have three functions: defending your family, killing delicious
animals, and keeping the King of England out of your face."

This week, Homer Simpson bought a pistol ... and folks who enjoy
watching _The Simpsons_ after a day at the target range are
debating in talk.politics.guns what, if anything, it all means.

Marge tells Homer that she heard on television that a gun in the
house is 58% more likely to be used against a family member than
against an intruder. Homer is briefly shocked almost into giving
up the gun. Is the point here that the statistic is accurate and
meaningful, or that Homer will believe anything TV says?

Lisa (traditionally the social conscience of The Simpsons) says the
Second Amendment is an outdated relic. Does she favor repealing it
(or wishing it away), or is she merely telling dad that a right
to do something doesn't necessarily mean it's a good idea?

Homer breaks every safety rule in the book, causing Marge to take
the kids to a motel. Does that mean guns are bad, or is the point
merely that Homer's judgement here is as bad as Homer's judgement
everywhere else?

Local NRA members are shown as having a creepy obsession with
firepower. Krusty says, "We need these new guns to hunt the modern,
more advanced animals, like the flying squirrel and the electric
eel." Moe shows off a shotgun to which he has welded four pistols
(the triggers linked by strings) for a bigger bang. But then when
Homer uses his pistol to open a beer can, they give him a chewing-out.
Is this a sop to the NRA's tradition of running safety courses,
or an attempt to show shooters somehow as hypocrites or cowards?

Chastised, Homer goes to make amends with Marge, telling her he has
gotten rid of the gun. But then Snake (a petty thug) appears, to rob
the motel's cashier, and Homer pulls the gun. While Marge is chewing
him out, Snake grabs the gun. Then three of the NRA members turn up
and chase Snake away (without ever firing), having heard the motel's
silent alarm on their police scanners. Are they good neighbors, or
losers who have no life?

Finally, Homer confesses that the gun has a terrible grip on him,
and surrenders it to Marge to dump it. But after Homer leaves the
room, Marge sees her reflection holding the gun, grins, and puts it
in her purse. Has she recognized that a gun can be a good thing in
good hands (as the foiled robbery shows), or has she, like Homer,
fallen under its spell?

(In at least two previous episodes, Marge handled a pistol quite well--
but perhaps we're not meant to remember those.)

Anton Sherwood *\\* +1 415 267 0685 *\\*