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Bart Simpson: Worker Rights Activist

If (like me) you’re not a regular viewer of The Simpsons show, you will have missed a controversial new opening sequence created by British graffiti artist Banksy, which aired this past weekend. The segment, which mocks the show for outsourcing much of its animation work through a South Korean company, began to go viral until yesterday, when Fox asking for the video to be pulled from YouTube and other venues (see here).

The scene begins much like the regular opening, but with "Banksy" scrawled strategically across the town of Springfield. Bart is seen writing punishment lines on the school blackboard, as usual, but this time "I must not write all over the walls" covers every wall of the classroom. The sequence continues almost as usual until we see the family is seated on their couch.

Suddenly, we shift to a dark, cavernous space where row upon row of sweatshop workers are seen to be laboring hard to produce this image. A small child ferries the film over to a vat of dangerous chemicals. We glimpse kittens being thrown into a woodchipper to make stuffing for Bart Simpson dolls. A shackled panda hauls a wagon loaded with the finished dolls, while a depleted unicorn is used to punch holes in the center of DVDs. The skeletons of expired workers litter the scene. It ends with a shot of the 20th Century Fox logo surrounded by barbed wire.

There are rumors that the segment caused quite a stir over at Fox, but producer Al Jean told the New York Times that 95 percent of Banksy’s work ended up onscreen, with Fox’s approval. Still, the blogosphere is suspicious of network for restricting access to the clip, even from Banksy’s own website. You can find most of it on Hulu, but as one post complains, "The effect feels akin to censorship, considering the very viral subject matter can no longer be viewed in Asia."

At least for now, you can still find the entire introduction here.

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