Sunday, February 11, 2007

Why I heart Lisa Simpson

There's really nowt going on. Well, there's lots going on but as I still can't tell you anything about my new series and I refuse to do the whole "there will NEVER be a fourth Diary Of A Crush book" speech for the umpteenth time, I've been trying hard to think of anything interesting to post.

But this week, I was searching through my hard disk and realised that I have a ton of articles that might amuse and entertain you. Most of them were written for UK magazines that have since closed. (Such is a writer's lot in life!) This is one of my favourite ever pieces, written for the wonderful Minx magazine, which was like a cross between Bust and old skool J17. There'll be more to come...

Head/ Minx of the month
Sell/ Lisa Simpson: she's yellow but she ain't yellow…

Lisa Simpson is a paradox. We're talking about a girl who's yellow, has weird pointy hair, favours strapless, orange dresses with uneven hems and has three fingers on each hand. She also has Homer Simpson as her paternal signifier. But despite (or maybe because of) these insurmountable obstacles, Lisa has triumphed.

Unswerving in her feminist beliefs, Lisa's still uncynical enough to believe that she can really make a difference. When her favourite doll, Malibu Stacey is marketed with a voicebox which utters such Pammyisms as "Don't ask me I'm just a girl, ha ha", it's Lisa who takes on the might of Malibu Stacey Inc and persuades the pseudo-Barbie's creator to make a new doll with a feminist conscience.

Lisa's righteousness - that same righteousness that we used to have before we discovered the magical diversions of expensive cosmetics and vodka - knows no bounds. She debunks the myth of Jebediah Springfield, even though her teacher labels her a PC thug. She trains Bart in the ways of Zen to make him a crazy golf champion. Hell, she even enrolls in a military academy when the second grade of Springfield Elementary School fails to stimulate her intellectual neurons.

The only blip in Lisa's otherwise faultless world is that she doesn't have many friends. Her yearbook is nowt but a collection of loser accolades and pristine pages lacking autographs, but after a fortnight at the beach (in the Summer Of 4ft 2), Lisa makes buds, not with her newly acquired wardrobe of happening threads, but because she teaches her new pals "about nature and why you shouldn't drink sea water."

Without wanting to be too tree-hugger about it, Lisa ain't afraid to get real - she doesn't shield her oddness, she wears her oddness like a shield. Like, Lisa's still young enough to write really bad poetry ("I had a cat called Fluffy, she died, she died/Mom said she was sleeping, she lied, she lied". But she's mature enough to realise that even brainiacs need to shake their thang too, whether she's duetting with Bart on The Theme From Shaft, guffawing at the slasher antics of Itchy And Scratchy or persuading her prototype riot grrrl acquaintances to capture Bart and slather him in make-up.

What makes Lisa so cool is knowing that when she grows up she's going to totally rock, either as a lipstick feminist with a controversial theory about date rape or as an angst ridden, guitar-wielding pop-type. OK, the reality is that Lisa is perpetually eight, but we can wish all our wildest teen ambitions on Lisa's sloping shoulders.

So, how come Lisa turns out to be such a Grade 1 wuss? In Lisa's Wedding, set in 2010, La Simpson's a "humourless vegetarian" post-graduate about to marry a Hugh Grant-alike who's had a copy of Burke's Peerage inserted up his rectum. And, way worse than that, she lost her virginity to Bart's terminally geeky pal, Millhouse. Sorry, Mr Groening, we just don't buy it.

We might have lost our faith but Lisa will always ooze conviction from every single one of her little, saffron pores. Maybe that's why we love her - 'cause there's a little bit of Lisa in us all.

Lisa Simpson, iconoclast, poet, idealist, feminist warrior - we salute you.

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