The Simpsons guest star Shepard Fairey and more street artists

March 6th, 2012 | By | 9 Comments »

Last night The Simpsons aired the highly anticipated episode “Exit Through The Kwik-E Mart”, which guest starred a few of street art’s all-stars: Shepard Fairey, Ron English, Kenny Scharf, and Robbie Conal. The episode has Bart covering Springfield in wheat-pastes of Obey-esque posters of Homer, which eventually leads him to the likes of the street artist guest stars. If you want a full recap of the episode go here.

What struck me was actually something we all already knew- street art is on the market and has seen some fast and steep increases in its value. It’s just weird to see it satirized on The Simpsons: Bart’s street work leads him to show work in a gallery. Bart jumps on Homer’s car and tags the hood, and as Homer starts to yell at him for doing this, Bart points out that he just increased the car’s value by 50x.

Being on the Simpsons is definitely noteworthy for street art history. But this isn’t the first time art vandals have rocked the cartoon world:  Obey Giant was on Family Guy. Invader was referenced on Futurama. Shepard Fairey’s Obama poster was featured on South Park. Banksy directed this cool Simpsons’ intro.

If you’ve seen the episode what did you think? If you haven’t, but still feel the need to insert your opinion, what’s your take on street art getting Simpsonized?

Photos thanks to The Dude Box


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  • http://blog.vandalog.com/ RJ Rushmore

    The episode can be described in one word: Boring.

    If there’s one saving grace, the show was nice publicity for the artists. Hopefully some new people go and seek out work by some talented artists.

  • Markcookham81

    So you spend 0ver 20 years on the street expressing your angst and frustration towards corporations, greed etc…
    and then throw all integrity you may ever have built for yourself by allowing yourself to be satirized into a cartoon for the fox network?

  • http://punchingonpaper.com/ Ryan Gattis

    Nice post, Caroline.  Thanks for this.

    RJ: I’m curious, do you think it was boring in terms of the narrative, or boring in terms of the street art used and how it was incorporated into the story?  And the flipside question: what would have made it exciting, and/or interesting?

  • http://punchingonpaper.com/ Ryan Gattis

    Nice post, Caroline.  Thanks for this.

    RJ: I’m curious, do you think it was boring in terms of the narrative, or boring in terms of the street art used and how it was incorporated into the story?  And the flipside question: what would have made it exciting, and/or interesting?

  • http://blog.vandalog.com/ RJ Rushmore

    A bit of both. I found narrative pretty boring and then the street artist cameos seemed forced (as cameos often do). Plus, like most recent episodes of The Simpsons, it seems to just be rehashing old story lines. Like the one where Homer became an outsider artist for example.

    I think one simple improvement would have been to significantly shorten the scene where all the street artists are together and introducing themselves to Bart. So cheesy and forced.

  • http://punchingonpaper.com/ Ryan Gattis

    Cheers, RJ.  I just watched it and I agree, but I wonder if that was necessary purely as explanation for the average viewer.  A couple of other things stuck out to me. 

    One: Bart climbing down the beanstalk at the beginning with the golden
    goose–which seems a comment on street art, at least at the moment. 

    Two: that Shepherd Fairey was willing to play the bad guy and turn Bart in; somehow cynically
    justifying it with only wanting to make money off of posers, not help them. 

    The easy answer is: it’s satire; don’t worry about
    it.  Yet doesn’t it pose a more difficult question for street art as it evolves–spending more time in the main stream than ever before–at what point do the ‘don’t talk/don’t snitch’ values cease to be vital?

  • http://punchingonpaper.com/ Ryan Gattis

    I hear where you’re coming from, Mark.  But in some ways does “The Simpsons” exist beyond the company that broadcasts it?  Isn’t it art, as well?

  • http://twitter.com/_SOLID_GOLD Caroline Caldwell

    Well put. And great question.It’s increasingly hard to tell. 

    The community has expanded beyond cops vs. vandals. Not to get nostalgic, but there was a time when it felt like everyone involved, even in speculating, was definitely on this side or that side of the line. Now its on The Simpsons and mainstream etc, is inviting hoards of people into this once private community and these people don’t really have a stance or feel particularly passionate about standing on either side of the line. So it’s getting hard to pick the heads out of the crowd of the people who are really involved.

    That’s what the satire is doing.

  • http://twitter.com/_SOLID_GOLD Caroline Caldwell

    Some people see that as a triumph. 20 years expressing yourself on the street and then a major network saying “we heard your voice, now we’re gonna put you behind a megaphone”.
    Bad thing or good thing? What’s your stance?