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Simpsons Movie: The News Behind the News

In olden days, before transparency and interactivity and the wisdom of the crowd and all that stuff, press releases flowed in and we passed them around the office for yuks and we went about our business of warping your minds and twisting reality into our convenient little constructs.

But now the fashion is to let you in on the process, let you see how the proverbial omelette is made, for which purpose I present you with the full text of a splendid little offering by our friends in the wide world of public relations. Just in time for the premiere of The Simpsons movie, here's a pitch letter from a flak at Seton Hall University:

Dear Colleagues,

Based on the hit television series of the same name, The Simpsons Movie, is set to be released on Friday. As you continue your coverage of this highly anticipated cartoon comedy, please keep Christopher Sharrett, Professor of Communication and Film Studies at Seton Hall University, at the top of your expert contact list.

Sharrett believes the following about the upcoming film, The Simpsons Movie:

"The Simpsons are the archetypal dysfunctional family - they put the fun in dysfunctional. But with all the fine humor goes some caustic criticism of contemporary middle-class life. But there seems to be a flipside to this criticism. The Simpsons, with their large toy and spin-off industries, project a strange message--alienation can be warm and fuzzy."

"The Simpsons Movie comes at an odd time. The TV show seems to have lost its cutting edge - so the film is a way of reclaiming it? - in an age when umpteen shows deal satirically with dysfunctional families and the crisis of the suburbs (Desperate Housewives is one small example). Many Simpson fans have complained that the show's art has become too slick, and CGI-driven. The primitivism of the early version of the show, its mordant social satire and wit, have been replaced by incessant appearances by cartoonized pop stars and politicians. Questions: Is social satire possible within the new realm of mass media? Is social criticism co-opted by media?"

Sharrett is an expert in film and its influence on culture and politics. Media savvy, he has been interviewed by such widely known news media as The History Channel, USA Today, Dallas Morning News and

If you'd like to interview Christopher Sharrett, please call him at [details deleted for the protection of the poor fellow]. You may also e-mail him at [more unexpected kindness from a news hack].

Feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance. Thank you!

Assistant Director of Media Relations
Seton Hall University
[contacts deleted so we don't make life any harder for her than it need be]

Ok, now you don't even need to see the flick.

By Marc Fisher |  July 26, 2007; 4:47 PM ET
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Interesting -- how do reporters usually identify knowledgeable people to comment on obscure subjects? Obviously there are prominent folks in prominent areas, but how would you go about identifying a Simpsons expert?

Posted by: ah | July 26, 2007 5:35 PM

The Assistant Director of Media Relations can't write for s**t. I hope someone there is teaching the students to do better.

Posted by: arlington | July 26, 2007 6:53 PM

I realize that there probably aren't any editors in the PR department, but did anyone else in the office even bother to read this release before they sent it out??

Posted by: Hong Kong Hack | July 26, 2007 11:55 PM

The flak is just doing his job. But how did Christopher Sharrett get to be a Professor of Communications and Film Studies at Seton Hall University?

Most of the communication is a direct quote from the esteemed professor who uses academic language like "umpteen". Strike Seton Hall from the list of schools my kids will be applying to.

Posted by: KK | July 27, 2007 7:38 AM

I wonder how well it is going to do. I barely remember to watch the 30 minute version on Sunday's why would I remember to go to a 90 minute episode I have to pay 10 bucks for?

Posted by: KTB | July 27, 2007 9:40 AM

BTW, I'm glad to see the post's review of the movie actually used the same line in its heading -- fun in dysfunctional. Good work!

Posted by: ah | July 27, 2007 11:50 AM

Academics need to remember that people consume entertainment for purposes of enjoyment first. Like I did, when I was at one of the many midnight Simpsons movie showings earlier today. The movie is awesome.

Posted by: Lindemann | July 27, 2007 12:59 PM

Posted by: Internet pharmacy | August 31, 2007 10:26 AM

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