Hello, there! You have reached Day #11 in a series of twenty-five days of holiday goodness that I like to call THE POP CULTURE ADDICT'S ADVENT CALENDAR. This also happens to be TUBE TALK THURSDAY, so we are going to be talking about a Christmas special of some sorts.
In fact, we'll actually be talking about a particular Christmas episode of a long running series. Why I chose this one? Well, of all of the holiday specials that this show has aired, I think this one has to be my favourite of the bunch.
I am going to open this entry up with a question. Think back to your childhood for a moment. Was there one item that you wanted for Christmas that you really wanted, and would have done almost anything to get?
I can easily tell you what mine was. When the Super Nintendo was first released in 1990/1991, I was absolutely desperate to get my hands on one. It was definitely the hottest video game console on the market, and having seen previews of "Super Mario World" on television, I knew that it was going to be the game to have. Problem was that I had just purchased the original NES system with birthday money and tooth fairy money that I saved up for months, and my family didn't have the extra money to buy a new video game system when I had a perfectly good one to play with.
I had to settle for renting the Super Nintendo from the local convenience store and having the chance to play it for three days at a time (at that time, the store would let you rent the system and two games for a period of three days for ten bucks). And, you know, as much as I hate to admit it, there was a part of me that really wanted to not bring the system back after the three day period. I could have made up a story about how it malfunctioned or that it stopped working in a freak accident, and somehow would have found a way to keep it. But you know, I never could have gone through with it. For one, I was ten, eleven years old, and I knew that I never would have gotten away with it. But for another, I would have disappointed my family if I gained possession of a game system through unethical means, and I didn't want that. It would take some time, but I eventually did get a Super Nintendo as a Christmas gift a couple of years after it was released. And you know what? Waiting for it made me appreciate it a lot more.
That said, I am sure that we all have had that one toy or game that we really wanted to have, and I am sure that some of us have contemplated a bunch of different ways that we would get our hands on said item. And, while some of us might have the temptation to get the item by stealing it, most of us are strong enough to reject the temptation.
But what happens when the temptation becomes too great and you get into a situation where you're caught stealing that item? Would it be worth it then?
Well, Bart Simpson learned that lesson the hard way in The Simpsons. In particular, the seventh season episode "Marge Be Not Proud", which originally aired on December 17, 1995.
Now, granted, Bart Simpson has never really been the poster child for angelic behaviour. Prior to this episode, he injured Principal Skinner's mother with a cherry bomb, blew up a chemistry lab, assisted in cutting off the head of statue of the town founder, and got temporarily expelled from school for causing Groundskeeper Willie's lawn mower to run over Superintendent Chalmers!
And, certainly Bart has stolen before. I still remember the time he stole Homer's change jar which set the stage for an underwear clad Homer chasing Bart around the house in that throwback to Indiana Jones.
But in this episode, Bart does something that some would consider unthinkable. And Bart realizes after he gets busted that he hasn't only hurt himself, but someone who he loves very much.
The scene goes like this. Bart wants the latest video game on the market. It's a Mortal Kombat rip-off called "Bonestorm". Problem is, the game costs over seventy bucks (which admittedly has not changed that much in nineteen years, as "Grand Theft Auto V" costs $69.96 at the store I work at). And cost aside, Marge simply doesn't feel that a ten-year-old boy should be playing violent video games like "Bonestorm", and instead should be playing video games that teach kids how to play golf.
In the B-plot of the series, Marge is also despondent that the Simpsons have never been able to take a decent holiday portrait because Bart keeps ruining it, and Marge is determined to have the best family picture ever. I can't imagine where this B-plot is going.
Meanwhile, Bart tries everything to get his hands on the Bonestorm game, but to no avail. He finds himself at a Walmart-like store called the "Try-N-Save", where he is drawn to the video game section of the store, drooling over a copy of Bonestorm. And thanks to the negligence of the store worker there, the case is left open so that Bart has easy access to the game. Bart cannot resist temptation, swipes a copy of Bonestorm, hides it under his jacket, and leaves the store...only to get caught by security guard Don Brodka (voiced by Lawrence Tierney). Brodka warns Bart that if he ever sets foot in the Try-N-Save store again, he will make sure that Bart goes to juvenile hall. Certainly Bart is scared straight, and is determined to never go near the store again.
It's just too bad that Marge has booked the family portrait to be taken at the same Try-N-Save store that Bart only shoplifted from just days before! Naturally, Bart tries to do everything to get out of it, but Marge guilts him into going. And once they arrive at the store, Bart begins to get extremely nervous. But his method of thinking is, take the picture and run.
Unfortunately, Brodka catches up with Bart and violently grabs him just as the picture is being shot, leading to this...interesting photo opportunity.
Marge demands to know what the big idea is, and Brodka shows Marge the security tape of Bart taking the Bonestorm game, causing Marge's heart to break in two and Bart shoveling in an entire helping of humble pie.
Of course, when the family gets back home, Bart starts to notice that his mother becomes cold and distant with him. She refuses to sing him a song before bed, will not put marshmallows in his hot cocoa, and she even builds snowmen with the whole family while Bart is over at Milhouse's place arguing over a cup and ball. It becomes clear that Bart has really hurt his mother's feelings, and he makes a huge decision to try and fix things.
Unfortunately, while Marge and Lisa are spraying fake snow all over their Christmas tree, Bart comes home with something hidden in his jacket, leading Marge to jump to the wrong conclusion. And after Marge angrily confronts Bart and asks him to show her what he's taken this time, he shows her this.
Apparently Bart went back to the Try-N-Save, and got the photographer to snap a picture of him in a special frame. The best part of the frame? A receipt that reads "PAID IN FULL".
Bart decided that since his carelessness and selfishness ruined the portrait that Marge really wanted that Bart would try to make up for it by taking another photo - a good photo - to fix it. And the receipt was proof that he saved his pennies and bought it himself.
Well, naturally, this leads Marge to tears, and she forgives Bart, which makes Bart feel a lot better. And Marge even gives Bart a present early - the golfing game that Marge was told that all the kids were into - which Bart accepts.
Certainly, this was a great episode of "The Simpsons". Again, it is one of the better Christmas episodes. It shows how one small decision can cause a lot of pain, and how wrong stealing really is. And here's the interesting part of the story. The writer of this episode, Mike Scully, wrote this script based on an experience that he had shoplifting from a store and getting caught. The experience scared him straight and he vowed not to do it again. So, in a way, when you see Bart, you're really seeing Mike Scully.
Though, I don't think that Scully was shoplifting a Bonestorm game.