There’s an episode of South Park, “Cartoon Wars Part II,” where Eric Cartman and Bart Simpson team up take down Family Guy. Cartman suggests terrorism. It’s “manipulation at its highest lever,” he says. “You should let me handle this.” When Bart asserts that he’s a pretty bad kid, Cartman asks what’s the worst thing he’s ever done. “I stole the head off a statue once,” Bart responds. Cartman pretends to be impressed, before adding, “That’s like this one time, when I didn’t like a kid, so I ground his parents up into chili and fed it to him.” Bart rolls away on his skateboard, like a little cry baby.
That episode aired in 2006. Ten years later, Bart is a sociopath.
This Sunday’s new episode of The Simpsons, “Dad Behavior” (with special guests! Dan Fouts and Matt Leinart?), begins with a couch gag where each member of the Simpson family, sans Bart, meets an untimely end. Homer swallows an inanimate carbon rod (they always did have their difficulties), Lisa has a fatal head injury, and Maggie drives Marge’s car off a cliff and into a lake. Bart makes it home safe and sound, but rather than mourn his dead parents and sisters, he turns on the television and exhales, “Finally, I get the remote.” Even Cartman is impressed by his devil-may-care attitude.
The rest of us are just horrified.