Simpsons show intro directed by Banksy

Video Link. The opening sequence for tonight's episode of The Simpsons was storyboarded and directed by famed British street artist Banksy.

(via Wooster Collective and banksyfilm, thanks to all who suggested this!)


  1. That was actually quite awesome :D

    Never quite sure what to think about Banksy, have a somewhat love/hate view of him…

    On one hand, much of his actual art is really very good and often quite clever.
    but then again he still resorts to just tagging stuff with his banksy name, which is just mindless vandalism in my book.

    Same goes for all graffiti really: The art is nice but just writing your name on stuff is idiotic vandalism.

    1. I wrote a paper 15 or 20 years ago about tagging, and in it wondered if cultures where calligraphic signatures were revered would be more likely to see it as art (I was thinking of the Tughra of the Ottoman sultans at the time: than us in the West, where public calligraphy is not as culturally central. I’m not arguing that all tags are high art, just that tags can be appreciated as art – some good, some bad.

      Certainly graffiti in the West seems to be more accepted when it more clearly connects with Western artistic tradition – Banksy is an almost Platonic example of someone who creates art that’d probably be relatively unremarked if done on canvas, but has gained attention due in part to the contextual edginess ascribed to the fact it’s done unsolicited on other people’s property, in a way which makes it harder for the artist to sell it.

      Returning to tags, I’m not a fan of Banksy’s either, but given his obvious artistic ability, his bland, almost anti-calligraphic tag pretty much has to be a deliberate statement rather than “mindless vandalism”. I don’t care for it either, but while it may be vandalism, it’s definitely not mindless.

  2. Wow. Surprisingly dark.

    Face it, kids. America can’t get by without slavery of one kind or another. We just exported it.

    Why does industry need SO MUCH profit that it willfully ruins lives worldwide?

    Oh, well. That Bart sure is funny!

    1. If we didn’t send jobs over there, then those jobs might not exist at all. Or they might have similar pay and similar conditions, or worse. Our companies are cultivating those conditions, not creating them. That country is to blame for allowing it to happen in the first place and to continue. I welcome a good argument against what I’ve just stated.

      1. So, you read to #2 but did you read to #6?

        Cue libertarians apologizing for sweatshops.

        I suppose (hope) you’re not apologising, merely welcoming debate, but why debate something so ridiculous?

        1. I’m no libertarian, but I’d like verification that the Korean animators actually work in sweatshop conditions before I start ranting about slave labor. Just because they can do the job for less money than their American counterparts does not necessarily mean that it’s an act of cruelty for Fox to employ people overseas for its animation division.

          In the very least check the tags on the clothing you’re wearing before you start throwing stones.

          1. I hear you bro – my comment was more in regards to the wheel barrows of merch being carted to and fro. On the whole I’d say any working conditions in Korea would be better than in China where much of the merch is made. Also, checking tags is the most powerful thing we can do as consumers and I believe it’s important to check the tag of every item when considering possible purchases. The supermarket takes forever!

            A friend of mine mentioned once over a street beer that even in Tokyo the animators do it tough. He said most animators or illustrators end up working in erotica because that pays a few hundred yen better per hour than the regular stuff – but even then they’re only earning 1,400 yen ($17USD) an hour or so.

            I know it is hard to argue against companies taking jobs to countries where otherwise such employment wouldn’t exist, because they also usually pay significantly more than similar jobs in the same country.

            The fact remains that Western companies are there to save money and they don’t really care how it happens. In a fair world the companies would be made to negotiate a wage for employees in developing nations which is somewhere in between what they are getting paid now, and what the companies would have to pay the same worker in a western country.

            Also Western OH&S is a bit of a wank sometimes, but OH&S is unheard of in many of these factories and this is also problematic. I remember reading something once about factory workers being branded with corporate logos after accidentally slipping while burning logos onto products, but can’t seem to dig it up right now.

            Interesting analysis here:

            Food for thought about what Western countries adopting such deals will mean for the world in the long run (China just rose to world #2 in nominal GDP, remember):

          2. Actually, that may be where Banksy’s satire falls a bit. With the panda and textile/toy merchandising, my first thought was “Chinese sweatshop”. Odds are the Korean ones are at least tolerable. Korea has had several decades of industrialization and even some unionization. Unless of course it’s a NORTH Korean sweatshop.

          3. French-Canadian Comic Artist Guy Delisle did two comic books on his time working as head animator in animation shops in
            and Pyongyang

            They are both very insightful and funny.
            There is also a new one out about time ge spent in Burma, but I haven´t read that one yet.

          4. Not to mention the dead dolphin, since the Chinese fished the Yangtze River dolphin into extinction.

            I don’t mind the low wages so much as the OH&S conditions, as said above.

  3. It always amazes me what Fox allow their animated shows to get away with. Not that it weighs up for cancelling Firefly though…

  4. Obligatory comment:

    It’s the funniest thing they’ve done in ten years!

    No, wait…it’s the only funny thing they’ve done in ten years.

  5. Awesome, ballsy. I love the unicorn.

    Just finished watching the whole episode. The credits include:

    Couch Gag

    Cue libertarians apologizing for sweatshops.

    1. “Cue libertarians apologizing for sweatshops.”

      There are libertarians in favor of sweatshops but sweatshops are not aligned with libertarianism just like there are conservatives in favor of abandoning the constitution but abandoning the constitution is not conservatism.

  6. uh. what just happened?
    uh um.

    i’d gotten tired of the “couch gag.” until now…

    and, yes, it always surprises me what fox will let them get away with: i mean, don’t bite the hand that feeds you – corporatism knows that anti-corporatism sells

  7. What Bart should have been writing on the chalk board, “I guess Banksy is not overrated” “I guess Banksy is not overrated”

    The decapitated dolphin head made me LOL.

  8. I wonder if it went a bit too far with the unicorn and dolphin head. Like up until that point, it was a satirical, if ultimately truthful view of how cel-animation is produced… and then they crank it up to 11, and it becomes a satire of itself? I think that if it went back to credits just before the lone child dunks the cel in chemical waste, there would have been no way fox would have run it.

    Not saying this to be humourless, because it was funny in a Tim and Eric style– but it sort of makes me think about a sort of Bourdieu-an symbolic violence against the criticism itself. Does the exhausted unicorn accuse Fox and the terrible production conditions of the show and its merch, or does it skewer the bleeding hearts of the people who would criticise it in the first place?

  9. I have to say I was expecting to see something along the lines of his graffiti art, which I think is really good. I didn’t know he actually spraypaints his name as well, though, that’s kind of lame…

    That said I’m sure we’ve all wondered what those Korean animation shops look like, and what a brilliant way to make people who hadn’t noticed the “Rough Draft Korea” credit to finally realize it. Not that I think the real animation shops are like this, but they’re probably not particularly great either ;)

    It’s obviously a Temple of Doom reference, but specifically the design of the ladders really reminds me of something – I think the Temple of Doom arcade game maybe.

  10. The kick into the Danny Elfman theme at the very end was infra-black comedy.

    That’s what I love about Banksy’s work, he’s writing a clever joke on the tombstone of the world.

  11. @Tofagerl & godfathersoul:

    Fox operates according to the exact same principle that all American TV networks follow:

    If a show is popular/profitable for the network, it can say and do anything it wants. But if a show is not popular/profitable for the network, nothing it says or does can save it.

    As long as The Simpsons puts money in the pockets of the folks who run Fox, it can get away with just about anything that doesn’t cause the show to lose viewers. But a show like Firefly (may it rest in peace), which never had a huge audience, and was never profitable for Fox, is totally at the mercy of the network, and is forced to submit to the network’s every demand. Yet that doesn’t help it much because, unless it starts pulling in high ratings pretty soon, it’s doomed to cancellation.

    Sad, but true.

  12. overrated “artist” uses a dying show/dying show uses an overrated “artist” to feel relevant.

  13. I live in bristol (banks”s home town) and have never seen a plain tag by him around, only his satirical work. Though I may just be looking through rose tinted glasses.

    Also if you’ve ever been to one of his art exhibitions his canvas work is even better than his illicit graffiti.

  14. penguinchris • #13


    Donkey Kong ? (originals)
    Prince of Persia ? (original)
    Pitfall (rungs were just blurry/shade ansi though.)

  15. There’s been quite a few excellent couch gags on The Simpsons so far this season and last. And I really loved the Flight of the Conchords in the season premiere. It’s not great TV but it definitely gives me more of a chuckle than most of the sitcoms out there.

  16. WTF? The Simpsons has always been given a bit of wiggle-room when it comes to criticism of the mothership, but I cant for one sec figure out how/why the same scum that employ Glenn Beck could have the intelligence to allow such self-examination in one of their shows.

    Maybe they just love the $ so much that they would F themselves in the A if it would make them an extra dollar?

    Re: Banksy. For the haters I have just one challenge: Name me one other contemporary artist with such fame and demand for their work who comes close to the exposure and impact Banksy’s work generates. One may not always agree entirely with the message or the medium (illegal grafiti), but it has to be said that his work is consistent, succinct, thought-provoking, enduring and most of all amusing.

    One of my faves:

    1. This has a preservation order, along with another in the most counter-culture area and self-proclaimed – ‘The People’s Republic of’ Stokes Croft – a location now ‘unofficially’ an open-air art gallery. Not sure if Banksy is preaching the virtue of monogamy or has a sense of humour as this was/is on a sexual health clinic!
      In 2009 the defaced wall was defaced – this one just before home-boy Banksy’s biggest, longest and free exhibition up the road, supposedly after he announced he was a Bristol City football fan that upset Bristol Rover supporters.

  17. If FOX actually gave a crap, this is just the easiest way to subvert any real criticism – subsume it into the very thing it purports to satirise. Toss those lefties a bone while you’re marketing to them. Bonus points for making it exaggerated and cartoonish.

  18. I like a lot of Banksy’s work, but not more-so than many other graffiti artists I’ve seen around. The thing about Banksy’s stuff is that people want it because it’s a Banksy, not on merit of it being any good.
    Anyway, the opening is good, & a bit of a jab at Fox, which is always funny, but I sincerely doubt a similar gag would be allowed to run on a show that doesn’t pull Fox as much revenue as The Simpsons.

  19. Thing is that – whether or not there are kids slaves – we’re all happy to see these “depressing” scenes and we even think “yeah FTW, revolution!”, but in the end we just go back to our little jobs and do nothing to change the world (and maybe even buy one of those DVDs for FOX’s joy).

    Prove me wrong and give a list of links of associations that help fighting minor labor and exploitation.

  20. @evol

    “Prove me wrong and give a list of links of associations that help fighting minor labor and exploitation.”

    I believe Google will even do that for you.

  21. Doesn’t look like sweatshop conditions to me on this CNN report:

    BTW, skip to 7:47 where the reporter mentions a Simpsons episode where South Korean animation studios were depicted as sweatshops. This report was several years ago.

    1. They’ve done gags about the Korean animators working in terrible conditions several times throughout the years. I remember a very early episode where a Korean animator was being whipped while working on an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon.

  22. I don’t know why so many people are surprised that ‘Fox let this air’. It’s well known that The Simpson’s have a clause in their contract which says that Murdoch can never interfere editorially with their content. It was a condition of the show being made in the first place.

    The only people they have to appease is the state censors of Network TV.

    Oh. And, awesomest intro ever (maybe).

    Oh. And, I’ve actually thought the last two seasons of The Simpsons have been *much* funnier that those made after the ‘great decline’.

  23. The Simpsons had a bad streak, but last season was amazing. The last Sideshow Bob episode is one of the funniest episodes of the whole series.

  24. I’ve noticed there are no Koreans are here but uneducated people that jump to the wrong conclusion. Japan produces more anime than anyone and it’s often partly made in Korea because it’s cheaper and faster. What is wrong with that? these Koreans that work are skilled artists and although they have deadlines like anyone else they are not working in sweat shops.

  25. Actually, this gag will seem positivly quaint in just a couple of years.

    Most of the colouring, clean up, in-betweening and other mundain parts of animation that were traditionally outsourced, is now beeing taken over by improved computer software, wich can be run from home. South Park, for instance, is 100% digital these days.

    Less toxic waste from the cels, paint and ink, cheaper and faster production of the cartoons, but also much less work opportunities for the guys overseas.

    1. Eeyore, my experience tells me that you are wrong.

      I was working in animation when Flash entered the process. “This is great!” we said, as we ground away on our little Internet series. “We’ll be able to do the whole process in-house for a lot less!”

      Two years later, the networks were farming out Flash shows to India.

  26. I had a Korean friend who worked as an inbetweener on the Simpsons for a short while after graduating. I got the impression that it was a typical entry-level job with long hours, hard work and mediocre pay but not an actual sweatshop, unless you have a very privileged view of employment.

    South Korea’s a civilised country; they don’t employ children, they have democracy and unions and a citizenry that isn’t afraid to protest against the government.

      1. Thanks for the link. I am honestly sweating because of trying to contain my fury at the Live 2 month old piglet being torn apart in protest of a military base being moved. Asia and South Korea in particular are barbaric fucktards when it comes to animal cruelty. Pick up your game, assholes. Funny how my comapssion for human suffering disappears when I see animals suffering at the hands of humans.

        I would happily, without guilt, kill any of the motherfuckers involved in the suffering of that pig. Morons for being in the military in the first place (although Korea has mandatory military service, I believe), and even more stupid for taking their anger out on an innocent animal.

        F that. It almost makes me happy that the North torpedoed a South Korean military ship in March.

  27. As much as I like Banksy, BLEK LE RAT [] created this style of graffiti 20 years before Banksy copied it. At least Bansy accepts this on the “Original Stencil Pioneer” DVD, but he does very little to give credit to the original author :/
    Also back in ’92[] on episode 6 of season 4 (“Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie”) the plot included a report on how American cartoons are made in Korea and it showed a room full of Asian slaves. Banksy needs an average of two decades to copy ideas.

    1. As much as I like Banksy, BLEK LE RAT [] created this style of graffiti 20 years before Banksy copied it.

      Thanks Banksy-hater. Your visceral dislike for him could not be more obvious.

      While we’re turning back the clock, why not accuse Blek of stealing the idea off Ernest Pignon-Ernest? I mean, he did throw up his first stencil in 1966, and I would even argue that Banksy’s message and style more closely reflect E P-E’s than Blek.

      E P-E was from the start about political and social commentary. His first stencil was the silhouette of a man, inspired by a photograph of the aftermath of the Hiroshima A-bomb. E P-E rarely labelled his work with his name and only started self-portraits more than 10 years after his first stencil (as far as I know).

      Meanwhile, Blek’s first stencil(s) were crude, self-promoting and deeply rooted in the tagging tradition (Note the clear prominence of his alias and the uninspired use of a rat image to allude to his alias). Blek’s first self portrait was 5 years after his first stencil. To date there is no known self-portrait of Banksy (though I guarantee you his face has to be on at least one of his stencils).

      The problem with throwing stones when it comes to art is that no idea is original. Anyone claiming to be the creator of a medium is a liar.

      Some links-
      Self portrait:

      Overview of his work:

      Translation of French interview with the artist:

      Also back in ’92[] on episode 6 of season 4 (“Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie”) the plot included a report on how American cartoons are made in Korea and it showed a room full of Asian slaves. Banksy needs an average of two decades to copy ideas.

      There have been plenty of references in The Simpsons to foreign cartoons being animated in Korea (under potentially less-than-ideal working conditions). Sorry bud, but making reference to a situation that exists IRL is not a form of plagarisation.

      Anyone else need me to tear ’em a new one?

  28. Classic! I love that Banksy has taken a lot of the 80’s anarcho / Crass Records look and Ideas ( his style owes G.SUS, who did all the Crass artwork, immense debt) Yanked it out of it’s context, but instead of selling video games and T-shirts with it has kept a lot of the satire, politic and ideals. Bravo!

  29. Whether the Simpsons itself is animated in a sweatshop is secondary to the real point: that first-world nations use sweatshop labor in “developing” countries to prop up their standard of living. And the meta-meta storyline here is even more subtle. People who object to that state of affairs see this Simpsons intro and feel vindicated. “Finally, the revolutionaries have a voice,” they (we?) cry. “Stick it to the man!” Their vigor thus expended, they are less likely to actually do anything meaningful to change the situation.

    Funneling the revolutionary voice into “approved” channels is a time-honored method of disarming it.

  30. I’m confused. Should I now boycott the Simpson because they exploit emaciated unicorns? Good thing I haven’t watched it in a decade.

  31. Depressingly awesome.

    I love Banksy and the street art I see going on. Way more interesting than silly gang (or just egotistic) tags.

    The way I see it, any corporate or government “property” is fair game for street art, regardless of the law. Of course the cops (paid by the govt and corps) don’t see it that way. But all such property is, according to Proudhorn, theft- and I tend to agree.

    The way I see it, street art is not vandalism. The later seeks to destroy rather than create.

    Never knew the Simpsons employed so many wage slaves.

  32. Hmmmm . . . what I got from this was that even though the Simpsons seems like an innocuous, pleasant little trifle, there is an awful lot of hard, grueling work that goes into it.

    And when people see all the throwaway product tie in crap at the store, there is a lot of pain and suffering that goes into making that stuff as well.

    I see the kitties (that are shredded to make stuffing for the Bart dolls) and the dolphin head and the panda and the unicorn, as all symbols of childhood naivete’ about the world of cartoons and the magic of television. They get the treatment in this short opening that your enthusiasm about working in the world of television gets the minute you start your first job. Perhaps they also represent the environmental impact that shipping all this rubbish around the globe represents, but the unicorn tilted me towards the former theory . . .

  33. Yeah, this is quite…something. Blimey. Banksy may indeed be overrated and a media darling but i think what he does is very much in the spirit of the simpsons. They are both like the jester in the king’s court as Planet Simpson put it; whether you can be truly subversive in that case is an interesting question.

  34. Umm, there is a certain genius here, but is it a bit of a party killer to point out that South Korea isn’t the same as North Korea, that it’s not even the same as China even, and that it seems doubtful that you can call something in its economy a “sweat shop” — at least not much more than you can something in the US. Or maybe its all a big satire of the Simpsons production critics… either way its funny, but perhaps a bit meaningless.

    1. No, there are definitely sweatshops– people working long hours doing tiring, repetitive, mind-numbing labour in tiny, dim shacks for subsistence pay. I see them every day walking around my neighbourhood, especially in the summer, when all the doors are open cause it’s sweltering inside with no aircon. And I live in Seoul. We’re not talking about the boonies, here.

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