[Notes] Watching the Simpsons by J. Gray.


  • “To some degree or other, all texts transcend their textual homes, also becoming part of common culture and of everyday life. Thus, television texts do not exist solely in their moments of transmission.” [Gray. 2006:119]

  • “Arguably, media and cultural studies’ first major (if only implicit) step towards a theory of intertextuality came with Stuart Hall’s (1980) encoding/decoding model and intervention, and subsequent work into decoding by what Alasuutari (1991) has dubbed the ‘first generation’ of reception analysts (see Ang 1985; Buckingham 1987; A. Gray 1987; Hobson 1987; J. Lewis 1986; Morley 1980, 1986; Radway 1987).” [Gray.2006:21]
  • “Where influence theory sees a limited, unidirectional network of texts, Bakhtinian intertextual theory sees a textual universe of criss-crossing wires, and focuses on ‘the life of texts’ (Bakhtin 1986:114). Texts are always talking to each other, this theory suggests, and any new text as utterance will find its meaning only by adding its voice to the already existent dialogue. Yet since the individual reader will come to understand a text only by ‘listening’ to this dialogue, and since, therefore, we can comprehend one text only by using others, Bakhtinian linguistics and textual dialogism suggest a profound fluidity of textual boundaries.” [Gray.2006:26]
  • “Intertextual theory provocatively asks us to what degree a text as entity can exist outside of itself as physical object, and live through other texts. Bennett and Woollacott (1987), for instance, observe that popular heroes or characters can become matrixing principles or ‘dormant signifiers’, awoken by, but preceding, the individual text. Parallel work on Batman in the collected essays in Pearson and Uricchio’s (1991) The Many Lives of the Batman and on Judge Dredd by Barker and Brooks (1998) points to a similar conclusion (see also T. Miller 1997). And popular heroes are not alone, for as John Fiske (1989b) finds of Madonna, and Barker and Brooks (1998) find of Sylvester Stallone, performers/stars also exist intertextually, as do whole stories through remakes (Chin and Gray 2001), and, as I will soon discuss, genres. Writing on Batman in the superhero’s 1989 filmic reincarnation, Bennett states that the ‘early Gothic Batman, the Cold War Batman of the 1950s and his 1960s parodic successor: these are all there, like so many sedimented layers of plot, narrative and characterization which the text works with – or against’ (Bennett 1991: ix emphasis added), but, of course, Bennett’s there and his sedimentary layers are not actually in the text as location. Instead, as Fiske (1989a:66) writes of intertexts, they are ‘ghost texts’, but these ghosts come from the reader, and from other texts the reader has encountered. Resilient in refusing death, any text that we read can potentially live on forever – ageless as Bond and Batman have proven to be – to ‘haunt’ future texts. Ultimately texts stay with us, alive in our memories.” [Gray.2006:26-27]


Gray, J. (2006) Watching with The Simpsons: Television, Parody, and Intertextuality. Taylor & Francis: New York.


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