Recently with my class, I watched an episode of the Simpsons called, “Hurricane Neddy.” We have been talking about the Christian stereotypes in the media and their relevance to our image as Christians.
Some Christian stereotypes that we have discussed in class include:
- “Hip Pastor”
In the episode of the Simpsons, we see the stereotype of the perfect Christian neighbour at play. Always caring about the other neighbours, even when they don’t care for him back. Ned Flanders offers his Hurricane Proof house as shelter for the Simpsons, but the offer is turned down by Homer. But this stereotype is only relevant in the first half of the episode – right before the Flanders’ house gets blown down to the ground. We see that Ned breaks this stereotype after the hurricane by showing his real doubts as a Christian and eventually snapping at all his neighbours.
Ned Flanders, the Christian stereotype and the perfect neighbour finally snaps. He gets angry at his neighbours and goes around and points out every wrong part in each one of them. Where he fits the stereotype of the image of what the media portrays to be a Christian in the first half of the episode, the second half he shows his true self. He breaks this stereotype of perfection, love and harmony. He lets out his built-up anger and aggression out on everyone. But not only that, we see him have a moment of doubt. Doubt has got to be one of the hardest parts about being a Christian, having to put your full trust in someone. John 20:29 says, “Then Jesus told him,’Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.'” But in this episode, we actual see a portrayal of someone struggling in their faith – I find this very interesting that they would put that in this episode.
As a viewer, I feel like I get the message that Christians have struggles too. As much as it is still saying this message in a comical way – in that Ned Flanders cannot feel anger. It sort of shows the struggle of trying to be so perfect all the time, leading to an angry outburst.
I agree with this message to a certain extent. It does have some themes and content that I agree with – one being that Christians can struggle in their faith. I love how Ned takes his struggles to God first-hand and he actually talks to God about his doubts. I didn’t find the way it displayed Ned’s struggle too bad. The Simpsons has a way of displaying most of their messages in a satirical and mostly comical way – therefore I was expecting it to be a lot worse than it actually was. They did poke a little fun at the obedience and discipline that comes with Christianity and that a child has to be spanked for eight months straight in order to be kicked into shape. But other than that, I think that this episode showed an honest struggle that most Christians face. Obviously, as a Christian I don’t think it’s very nice to make fun of Christians, but I feel as if the Simpsons did it in a way that wasn’t too offensive – It’s message and roots go deeper than just the initial episode.