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Simpsons Pitch Tent in Anti-War Camp

Radar | October 20 2006

Anyone who thinks Hollywood is run by a liberal cabal won't change his mind after watching The Simpsons' annual Halloween special. The episode, which airs Nov. 5, concludes with an Iraq war satire that may rank as the most pointed political statement the show has ever made. In the segment, aliens invade Springfield to prevent mankind from obtaining "weapons of mass disintegration," but their mission, called "Operation Enduring Occupation," turns into a quagmire. "You said we would be greeted as liberators!" accuses one alien.

"We were looking for an ending to the episode, and it just kind of suggested itself," says Simpsons executive producer Al Jean. "I'd like to take credit for being adventuresome, but I think we're expressing a viewpoint 69 percent of the country agrees with."

Perhaps—but in the past, the show's writers have usually been careful to maintain an ironic distance from the hot-button issues they've tackled, including abortion and evolution. The Halloween segment, in contrast, feels remarkably earnest, right up to its final line: "This sure is a lot like Iraq will be." That line may not make it to the air; some of the writers want it cut, says Jean, though not because it's politically loaded. "The debate is whether people already get it and we're being too obvious," he adds.

Jean makes no apologies for the sobering tone of the segment: "When you read the headlines, it's just so sad for everybody over there."
He says there was little concern about alienating conservative viewers, and no interference from Fox (whose conservative corporate chairman, Rupert Murdoch, has lately been accused of drifting to the left). "They didn't have any objection to this," he says.

In fact, he says, if The Simpsons doesn't weigh in on more political controversies, it's partly because it takes a full year for a script to get filmed and broadcast. "It's actually a good inner check on us."

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