|"The Joy of Sect"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Episode no.||Season 9|
|Directed by||Steven Dean Moore|
|Written by||Steve O'Donnell|
|Original air date||February 8, 1998|
|Chalkboard gag||Shooting paintballs is not an art form.|
|Couch gag||Tiny versions of the Simpsons climb on the couch, and a normal-sized Santa's Little Helper comes up to the couch, takes Homer in his mouth, and runs off with him.|
|Commentary|| Matt Groening |
Steven Dean Moore
"The Joy of Sect" is the thirteenth episode of The Simpsons ' ninth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 8, 1998. In the episode, a cult takes over Springfield, and the Simpson family become members.
The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical depiction of working-class life, epitomized by the Simpson family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The show is set in the fictional town of Springfield and parodies American culture and society, television, and the human condition.
The Simpsons' ninth season originally aired on the Fox network between September 1997 and May 1998, beginning on Sunday, September 21, 1997, with "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson". With Mike Scully as showrunner for the ninth production season, the aired season contained three episodes which were hold-over episodes from season eight, which Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein ran. It also contained two episodes which were run by David Mirkin, and another two hold-over episodes which were run by Al Jean and Mike Reiss.
The Fox Broadcasting Company is an American free-to-air television network that is a flagship property of the Fox Corporation. The network is headquartered at 1211 Avenue of the Americas in New York City, with additional offices at the Fox Broadcasting Center and at the Fox Television Center in Los Angeles.
David Mirkin conceived the initial idea for the episode, Steve O'Donnell was the lead writer, and Steven Dean Moore directed. The writers drew on many groups to develop the Movementarians, but were principally influenced by Scientology, Heaven's Gate, the Unification Church ("Moonies"), the Rajneesh movement, and Peoples Temple. The show contains many references to popular culture, including the title reference to The Joy of Sex and a gag involving Rover from the television program The Prisoner .
David Mirkin is an American feature film and television director, writer and producer. Mirkin grew up in Philadelphia and intended to become an electrical engineer, but abandoned this career path in favor of studying film at Loyola Marymount University. After graduating, he became a stand-up comedian, and then moved into television writing. He wrote for the sitcoms Three's Company, It's Garry Shandling's Show and The Larry Sanders Show and served as showrunner on the series Newhart. After an unsuccessful attempt to remake the British series The Young Ones, Mirkin created Get a Life in 1990. The series starred comedian Chris Elliott and ran for two seasons, despite a lack of support from many Fox network executives, who disliked the show's dark and surreal humor. He moved on to create the sketch show The Edge starring his then-partner, actress Julie Brown.
Steve O'Donnell is an American television writer. His credits include Late Night with David Letterman, The Simpsons, Seinfeld, and The Chris Rock Show.
Steven Dean Moore is an American animation director. His credits include 65 episodes of the television series The Simpsons, as well as several episodes of the series Rugrats. Moore was also one of four sequence directors on The Simpsons Movie. He was nominated for an Emmy award in 2002.
"The Joy of Sect" was later analyzed from religious, philosophical, and psychological perspectives; books on The Simpsons compared the Movementarians to many of the same groups from which the writers had drawn influence. Both USA Today and The A.V. Club featured "The Joy of Sect" in lists of important episodes of The Simpsons.
Religion is a social-cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?
Psychology is the science of behavior and mind. Psychology includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an academic discipline of immense scope. Psychologists seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, and all the variety of phenomena linked to those emergent properties, joining this way the broader neuroscientific group of researchers. As a social science it aims to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases.
At the airport, Bart and Homer meet recruiters for the new religious movement, Movementarianism. They invite Homer and many Springfield residents to watch an orientation film. The film explains that a mysterious man known as "The Leader" will guide Movementarians aboard a spaceship to the planet Blisstonia. The lengthy film brainwashes the attendees into worshipping The Leader.
A new religious movement (NRM), also known as a new religion or alternative spirituality, is a religious or spiritual group that has modern origins and is peripheral to its society's dominant religious culture. NRMs can be novel in origin or part of a wider religion, in which case they are distinct from pre-existing denominations. Some NRMs deal with the challenges posed by the modernizing world by embracing individualism, whereas others seek tightly knit collective means. Scholars have estimated that NRMs now number in the tens of thousands worldwide, with most of their members living in Asia and Africa. Most have only a few members, some have thousands, and a few have more than a million members.
Springfield is a fictional town in the American animated sitcom The Simpsons, which serves as its main setting. A mid-sized town in an undetermined state of the United States, Springfield acts as a complete universe in which characters can explore the issues faced by modern society. The geography of the town and its surroundings are flexible, changing to address whatever an episode's plot calls for.
After Homer joins the cult, he moves his family to the Movementarian compound. Though defiant at first, all the Simpson children are converted to Movementarianism. Marge is the only family member to resist, and escapes from the heavily guarded compound. Outside, she finds Reverend Lovejoy, Ned Flanders, and Groundskeeper Willie, who have all resisted the Movementarians, and with their help, she tricks her family into leaving the compound with her. At the Flanders' home, Marge deprograms her kids by baiting them with fake hoverbikes and then works on Homer with a glass of beer. However, as a drop of beer lands on his tongue, he is recaptured by the Movementarians' lawyers.
Nedward Flanders Jr. is a recurring fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Harry Shearer, and first appeared in the series premiere episode "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire". He is the extremely religious, good-natured, cheery next-door neighbor to the Simpson family and is generally envied and loathed by Homer Simpson. A scrupulous and devout Evangelical Christian, he is among the friendliest and most compassionate of Springfield's residents and is generally considered a pillar of the Springfield community. Ned Flanders appearance is based on Great Britain's Stuart Parker.
Dr. William MacDougal, better known as Groundskeeper Willie, is a recurring character on The Simpsons, voiced by Dan Castellaneta. He is the head groundskeeper at Springfield Elementary School. Willie is almost feral in nature and is immensely proud of his Scottish origin. He is easily identifiable by his red hair and beard, as well as his aggressive temperament and thick, unrealistic Scottish accent.
Deprogramming refers to measures that claim to assist a person who holds a controversial belief system in changing those beliefs and abandoning allegiance to the religious, political, economic, or social group associated with the belief system. The dictionary definition of deprogramming is "to free" or "to retrain" someone from specific beliefs. Some controversial methods and practices of self-identified "deprogrammers" have involved kidnapping, false imprisonment, and coercion, which have sometimes resulted in criminal convictions of the deprogrammers. Some deprogramming regimens are designed for individuals taken against their will, which has led to controversies over freedom of religion, kidnapping, and civil rights, as well as the violence which is sometimes involved.
Back at the compound, Homer reveals to a crowd of Movementarians that he is no longer brainwashed and opens the doors of the Forbidden Barn to expose the cult as a fraud, but he and the crowd are surprised to find an actual spaceship. However, the crude spaceship disintegrates as it takes flight, revealing The Leader on a pedal-powered aircraft fleeing with everyone's money. He then crashes into Cletus Spuckler's front yard, where Cletus forces him to give over the money at gunpoint. The Simpsons return home to watch Fox television.
Cletus Delroy Spuckler, commonly called Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel is a recurring character in the Fox animated series The Simpsons, voiced by Hank Azaria. Cletus is Springfield's resident hillbilly stereotype, and speaks with a Southern United States accent. He is usually portrayed wearing a white sleeveless shirt and blue jeans.
The episode was the second and last episode written by Steve O'Donnell and was based on an idea from David Mirkin. Mirkin had been the show runner during seasons five and six, but had been brought back to run two episodes during the ninth season. He said he was attracted to the notion of parodying cults because they are "comical, interesting and twisted".He conceived the episode after hearing a radio show about the history of cults whilst driving home one night. The main group of writers that worked on the episode were Mirkin, O'Donnell, Jace Richdale, and Kevin Curran. The episode's title "The Joy of Sect" was pitched by Richdale. Steven Dean Moore directed the episode.
Aspects of the Movementarians were inspired by different cults and religions, including Scientology, Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple, the Heaven's Gate group, the Unification Church, the Oneida Society, and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.In particular, the leader driving through the fields in a Rolls Royce was partly inspired by the Bhagwans, and the notion of holding people inside the camp against their will was a reference to Jim Jones. The name "Movementarians" itself was simply chosen for its awkward sound. The scene during the six-hour orientation video where those who get up to leave are induced to stay through peer pressure and groupthink was a reference to the Unification Church and EST Training. The show's producers acknowledged that the ending scene of the episode was a poke at Fox as "being the evil mind controlling network". The episode's script was written in 1997, at roughly the same time that the members of the Heaven's Gate cult committed mass suicide. The writers noticed strange parallels between Mirkin's first draft and Heaven's Gate, including the belief in the arrival of a spaceship and the group's members wearing matching clothes and odd sneakers. Because of these coincidences, several elements of the episode were changed so that it would be more sensitive in the wake of the suicides.
Chris Turner's book Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Defined a Generation describes the Movementarians as a cross between the Church of Scientology and Raëlism, with lesser influences from Sun Myung Moon and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. ' approach to deprogramming in the episode, noting groundskeeper Willie's conversion to the philosophy of the Movementarians after learning about it while attempting to deprogram Homer. Author Chris Turner suggests that Marge should have instead gone with the "Conformco Brain Deprogrammers" used in the episode "Burns' Heir" to convince Bart to leave Mr. Burns and come back home.Planet Simpson also notes the Simpsons' chant at the conclusion of the episode as evidence of a "true high-growth quasi-religious cult of our time", referring to television. The book refers to a "Cult of Pop", which it describes as "a fast growing mutation ersatz religion that has filled the gaping hole in the West's social fabric where organized religion used to be". Martin Hunt of FACTnet notes several similarities between the Movementarians and the Church of Scientology. "The Leader" physically resembles L. Ron Hubbard; the Movementarians' "trillion-year labor contract" alludes to the (Scientology) Sea Org's billion-year contract; and both groups make extensive use of litigation. The A.V. Club analyzes the episode in a piece called "Springfield joins a cult", comparing the Movementarians' plans to travel to "Blisstonia" to Heaven's Gate's promises of bliss after traveling to the comet Hale–Bopp. However, it also notes that "The Joy of Sect" is a commentary on organized religion in general, quoting Bart as saying, "Church, cult, cult, church. So we get bored someplace else every Sunday." Planet Simpson discusses The Simpsons
In The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer , the authors cite "escaping from a cult commune in 'The Joy of Sect'" as evidence of "Aristotle's virtuous personality traits in Marge." ... but through the process of escalating behavioral commitments." The Psychology of the Simpsons explains the key recruitment techniques used by the Movementarians, including the charismatic leader, established authority based on a religious entity or alien being (in this case "Blisstonia"), and the method of taking away free choice through acceptance of the Leader's greatness. The book also analyzes the techniques used during the six-hour Movementarian recruitment film. In that scene, those who rise to leave are reminded that they are allowed to leave whenever they wish. They are, however, questioned in front of the group as to specifically why they wish to leave, and these individuals end up staying to finish watching the film. The book describes this technique as "subtle pressure", in contrast to the "razor wire, landmines, angry dogs, crocodiles and evil mystery bubble Marge confronts to escape, while being reminded again that she is certainly free to leave". The Psychology of the Simpsons writes that "the Leader" is seen as an authority figure, because "he has knowledge or abilities that others do not, but want". Instead of traditional mathematics textbooks, the children on the compound learn from Arithmetic the Leader's Way and Science for Leader Lovers.As the title suggests, the book The Psychology of the Simpsons: D'oh! examines "The Joy of Sect" from a psychological point of view. It discusses the psychology of decision-making in the episode, noting, "Homer is becoming a full-blown member of the Movementarians not by a rational choice,
In Pinsky's The Gospel According to the Simpsons, one of the show's writers recounted to the author that the producers of The Simpsons had vetoed a planned episode on Scientology in fear of the Church's "reputation for suing and harassing opponents".Pinsky found it ironic that Matt Groening spoofed Scientology in spite of the fact that the voice of Bart Simpson, Nancy Cartwright, is a Scientologist, having joined in 1996. Pinsky notes that Groening later "took a shot at Scientology" in Futurama with the fictional religion "Church of Robotology". Groening said he received a call from the Church of Scientology concerned about the use of a similar name.
The episode contains several references to popular culture. The title of the episode is a spoof of the book The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort.[ original research? ] When Marge attempts to leave the compound, she is chased by the Rover guard "balloon" from the 1967 television program The Prisoner . Neal Hefti and Nelson Riddle's theme music to the 1960s Batman series is used in the episode to indoctrinate Homer, while "I Love You, You Love Me" sung by Barney the Dinosaur on the Barney and Friends / Barney and the Backyard Gang series is used to brainwash babies. When Mr. Burns introduces his new religion, most of the sequence is a parody of the promotional video of Michael Jackson's 1995 album HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I . Willie scratching his nails along the church window to get Marge and Reverend Lovejoy's attention is a reference to the 1975 film Jaws , in which the character Quint performs a similar action. The Springfield Airport contains the "Just Crichton and King Bookstore", referencing Michael Crichton and Stephen King, authors famous for their airport novels, carrying only their works.
In its original broadcast, "The Joy of Sect" finished 27th in ratings for the week of February 2–8, 1998, with a Nielsen rating of 9.6, equivalent to approximately 9.4 million viewing households. It was the fourth highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following The X-Files , King of the Hill , and Ally McBeal .
In a 2006 article in USA Today , "The Joy of Sect" was highlighted among six other episodes of The Simpsons season 9, along with "Trash of the Titans", "The Last Temptation of Krust", "The Cartridge Family", "Dumbbell Indemnity", and "Das Bus".The A.V. Club featured the episode in its analysis of "15 Simpsons Moments That Perfectly Captured Their Eras". The Daily Mirror gave the episode positive mention in its review of the Season 9 DVD release, calling it "hilarious". Isaac Mitchell-Frey of the Herald Sun cited the episode as the highlight of the season. The Sunday Mail highlighted the episode for their "Family Choice" segment, commenting: "Normally, a show about religious cults would spell doom and gloom. Only Bart, of The Simpsons, could make a comedy out of it but then, he and his cartoon family are a cult in their own right anyway!"
Jeff Shalda of The Simpsons Archive used the episode as an example of one of the "good qualities present in The Simpsons", while analyzing why some other aspects of The Simpsons make Christians upset.The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide commented that the episode was "an odd one" with "a lot of good moments", and went on to state that it was "a nice twist to see Burns determined to be loved". However, the book also noted that "The Joy of Sect" is "another one where the central joke isn't strong enough to last the whole episode". In a lesson plan for St Mary's College, Durham titled An Introduction to Philosophy: The Wit and Wisdom of Lisa Simpson, the episode is described in a section on "False Prophets" as applicable for "... studying the more outrageous manifestations of 'religion' or those simply alert to the teachings of Christ on the subject".
Homer Jay Simpson is a fictional character and the main protagonist of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. He is voiced by Dan Castellaneta and first appeared on television, along with the rest of his family, in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Homer was created and designed by cartoonist Matt Groening while he was waiting in the lobby of James L. Brooks' office. Groening had been called to pitch a series of shorts based on his comic strip Life in Hell but instead decided to create a new set of characters. He named the character after his father, Homer Groening. After appearing for three seasons on The Tracey Ullman Show, the Simpson family got their own series on Fox that debuted December 17, 1989.
Lisa Marie Simpson is a fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons. She is the middle child and most intelligent of the Simpson family. Voiced by Yeardley Smith, Lisa was born as a character in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Cartoonist Matt Groening created and designed her while waiting to meet James L. Brooks. Groening had been invited to pitch a series of shorts based on his comic Life in Hell, but instead decided to create a new set of characters. He named the elder Simpson daughter after his younger sister Lisa Groening Bartlett. After appearing on The Tracey Ullman Show for three years, the Simpson family were moved to their own series on Fox, which debuted on December 17, 1989.
Abraham Jebediah "Abe" Simpson II, better known as Grampa Simpson, is a main character in the animated television series The Simpsons. He made his first appearance in the episode entitled "Grampa and the Kids", a one-minute Simpsons short on The Tracey Ullman Show, before the debut of the television show in 1989.
Reverend Timothy Lovejoy, Jr. is a recurring character in the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Harry Shearer, and first appeared in the episode "The Telltale Head".
"Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie" is the sixth episode of The Simpsons' fourth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 3, 1992. The plot follows Bart continually getting in trouble, and how Homer is unable to give him any suitable punishment. Marge gets Homer to agree to make a punishment stick, and he forbids Bart to see the new Itchy & Scratchy movie, a punishment that Homer takes very seriously. It was written by John Swartzwelder and was directed by Rich Moore.
"Lady Bouvier's Lover" is the twenty-first episode of The Simpsons' fifth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 12, 1994. In the episode, Abe Simpson falls in love with Marge's mother, Jacqueline Bouvier, and they start dating. However, on a night out in town, she is charmed by Mr. Burns. Abe is broken hearted when he learns that Jackie is going to marry Mr. Burns.
"Homer the Vigilante" is the eleventh episode of The Simpsons' fifth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 6, 1994. In the episode, a crime wave caused by an elusive cat burglar plagues Springfield. Lisa is distraught to find her saxophone has been stolen, and Homer promises to get it back. The police are ineffective, so Homer takes charge of a neighborhood watch. However, under his leadership it becomes more like a vigilante group, and fails to catch the burglar. With the help of Grampa, Homer discovers that the burglar is a charming senior named Molloy. Molloy is arrested, but he outwits the citizens of Springfield and escapes.
"Bart Gets an Elephant" is the seventeenth episode of The Simpsons' fifth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on March 31, 1994. In this episode, Bart wins a radio contest and is awarded a full-grown African elephant that he names Stampy. After Stampy wrecks the Simpsons' house and eats all the food, Homer decides to sell Stampy to an ivory dealer. Bart runs away with Stampy to save his pet, but the family finds the two at a museum exhibit, where Homer sinks into a tar pit. Homer is saved by Stampy, and so gives the elephant away to an animal refuge instead.
"Bart Sells His Soul" is the fourth episode of The Simpsons' seventh season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 8, 1995. In the episode, while being punished for playing a prank at church, Bart declares that there is no such thing as a soul and to prove it he sells his to Milhouse for $5 in the form of a piece of paper with "Bart Simpson's soul" written on it. Lisa warns that Bart will regret this decision, and Bart soon experiences strange changes in his life. Thinking he has really lost his soul, he becomes desperate to get it back. Lisa eventually obtains it and returns it to a relieved Bart.
"Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" is the third episode of The Simpsons' seventh season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 1, 1995. In the episode, the Simpson children are put in the custody of Ned and Maude Flanders after a series of misadventures. Homer and Marge are forced to attend a parenting class so they can get their children back. Learning that none of the children have been baptized, Flanders sets up a baptism, but Homer and Marge are able to stop him just in time.
"Bart's Girlfriend" is the seventh episode of The Simpsons' sixth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 6, 1994. The plot of the episode follows the secret romance of Bart and Jessica Lovejoy, Reverend Lovejoy's daughter. Bart tries to end the romance when he discovers that, behind her innocent façade as a preacher's kid, she is an even bigger troublemaker than he is. Jessica then steals the money from the collection plate, leaving Bart to take the blame until Lisa exposes the truth.
"Homer vs. Patty and Selma" is the 17th episode of The Simpsons' sixth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 26, 1995. In the episode, Homer loses all his money in pumpkin stocks and must turn to Patty and Selma for a loan. Meanwhile, Bart takes up ballet lessons, and his instructor is voiced by actress Susan Sarandon.
Religion is one of many recurring themes on the American animated television series The Simpsons. Much of the series' religious humor satirizes aspects of Christianity and religion in general. However, some episodes, such as "Bart Sells His Soul" and "Alone Again, Natura-Diddily", can be interpreted as having a spiritual theme. The show has been both praised and criticized by atheists, agnostics, liberals, conservatives and religious people in general for its portrayal of faith and religion in society. The show can function as a mediator of biblical literacy among younger generations of irreligious viewers.
"The PTA Disbands" is the 21st episode of The Simpsons' sixth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on April 16, 1995. In the episode, Edna Krabappel calls an emergency strike on behalf of the Teachers' Union of Springfield Elementary, to protest against Principal Skinner's miserly school spending.
"The Springfield Connection" is the 23rd episode in the sixth season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 7, 1995. In the episode, Marge deals with corruption and crime when she joins the Springfield police force.
"Hell Is Other Robots" is the ninth episode in the first season of the American animated television series Futurama. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 18, 1999. The episode was written by Eric Kaplan and directed by Rich Moore. Guest stars in this episode include the Beastie Boys as themselves and Dan Castellaneta voicing the Robot Devil.
"Bart Carny" is the twelfth episode of The Simpsons' ninth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 11, 1998. Homer and Bart start working at a carnival and befriend a father and son duo named Cooder and Spud. It was written by John Swartzwelder, directed by Mark Kirkland and guest stars Jim Varney as Cooder the carny. The episode contains several cultural references and received a generally mixed critical reception.
Media is a recurring theme of satire on The Simpsons. The show is known for its satire of American popular culture and especially television culture, but has since its inception covered all types of media such as animation, journalism, commercials, comic books, movies, internet, and music. The series centers on a family and their life in a typical American town but the town of Springfield acts as a complete universe. The town features a vast array of media channels—from kids' television programming to local news, which enables the producers to make jokes about themselves and the entertainment industry.
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