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March 01, 2006

BBC: Simpsons Trivia Trumps US Govt. Knowledge

Can you name the five main Simpsons characters? (You knew it was Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, right?) Well, the BBC thinks that you probably can't recite the five rights guaranteed you by the first amendment to the US Constitution quite so easily. In fact, if you could recite those five rights, you would be a small minority - numbering one in every thousand.

(And to be honest, I didn't get them all either. I said "right to bear arms" before my wife, a social studies teacher, shot me a withering look from across the room... Right... second amendment, I knew that.)

But civics lessons aside, I think knowledge of the Simpsons may actually have more applicability to today's modern life than does the Constitution's first amendment. We're said to have freedom of the press, but the press is almost exclusively owned by massive conglomerates, and our taxpayer dollars have been known to fund administration pay-outs for positive stories... and our freedom of assembly is threatened when we've learned that there are government employees infiltrating peaceful organizations under the guise of Homeland Security or the Patriot Act.

What the BBC missed is not that we can name the Simpsons' main characters - big deal. It is more impressive if you can remember who shot Mr. Burns (Maggie), who Bart sold his soul to (Milhouse) and for how much ($5.00). Now into the show's 17th season, it is increasingly difficult for even the most ardent Simpsons historians to remember the characters, their plot twists, punch lines, and many capers. Luckily for us, we can study up by using a myriad of online resources and fan sites - or even better, go to the source. With the first seven seasons of the Simpsons on DVD, you can watch every episode commercial-free, and gain insight through included commentary.

It's practically your civic duty.