Get Rid of the Little Bastards

Kamp Krusty12

“Don’t look in my closet!  In fact, stay out of my room altogether.” – Bart Simpson
“If the pets die, don’t replace them.  I’ll know!” – Lisa Simpson

The A.V. Club’s massive and (very) long running series of reviews of what they call “Classic” episodes picked up this week with “Kamp Krusty”.  The article is justifiably glowing (“still feels bracingly dark and sharp and uncompromising”), and it makes much of the wonderfully subversive theme of kids revolting against the unjust and incompetent adults who run their lives.  But it glosses over one of the best scenes in the episode: when the bus to camp finally departs and the adults celebrate like they just won a war.

Part of what makes this scene so great is the unmitigated joy the parents feel, with that one anonymous mother even yelling, “Don’t come back!”.  Parents disliking their kids isn’t exactly a new idea in fiction, anyone who’s ever encountered a Grimm fairy tale can tell you that, but on The Simpsons it isn’t just some parents, it’s all of them.  The implication to any kid viewer is loud and clear: your parents don’t actually like you.

Another great part of this is the way the kids understand that and don’t trust  their parents.  There’s Martin’s disgust that his parents are forcing him into “fat camp”, but there’s also Bart and Lisa’s last second pleas as the bus departs.  Even the children who are going willingly know that the adults are up to something. 

But what makes it one of those perfect moments The Simpsons was incomprehensibly good at creating is that the worst instincts of both sides are true.  The kids are indeed right to distrust the parents, and the episode makes much of their rebellion.  But the parents are also right to want to get rid of their spawn.  Life is better without the little monsters, and there’s nothing in the episode that suggests otherwise. 

That thought is hilariously grim, in no small part because given even a moment’s consideration it’s also self evidently true.  Having kids is expensive and stressful, and while most popular culture will fall back on lighthearted jokes and platitudes about love and indefinable value when confronting that, The Simpsons just leaves it there to stand on its own.  That rapturous cheer when the bus pulls away is made even funnier because, as far as this episode is concerned, it isn’t a joke. 

Kamp Krusty11

9 Responses to “Get Rid of the Little Bastards”

  1. 3 April 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Another scene I like in this epsiode is when Homer is watching the news from Kamp Krusty and he is saying in his head ‘Don’t be the boy, don’t be the boy’ This just emphasises some of the points you made

  2. 2 Patrick
    3 April 2012 at 7:36 pm

    I really there was a clip of Bill Hicks talking about why he loved this show.

    • 3 Patrick
      3 April 2012 at 7:37 pm

      I really wish…*

    • 10 April 2012 at 7:36 am

      I constantly wish for some new unearthed Bill Hicks clips that suddenly appear. Besides the Halloween special thing that got uploaded a few years ago onlne, and his final-interview-ever on Texas public television, it’s been hard to find much. somE GUY just uploaded like 10 dvd’s on myspleen of every hicks-related thing ever known to exist and 99% of it was largely available already. Fuck.

  3. 6 kloipy
    3 April 2012 at 11:30 pm

    ‘Gentlemen, to evil!’

  4. 7 Chris
    4 April 2012 at 3:06 am


  5. 9 FireFlower
    4 April 2012 at 9:21 am

    Great article!

    There are several reasons why I never want to be a mother and calling kids–even animated ones–little bastards and little monsters highlights two of them.

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