The Simpsons MoneyBART
MoneyBART Opening Sequence and Couch Gag
Banksy was credited with the opening couch gag for The Simpsons episode MoneyBART. Banksy‘s name appears several times throughout the episode’s opening sequence, spray-painted on assorted walls and signs.
Fox sanitized parts of the opening “for taste” and to make it less grim. In January 2011, Banksy published the original storyboard on his website. According to Banksy, the storyboard “led to delays, disputes over broadcast standards and a threatened walk out by the animation department.”
Executive director Al Jean jokingly said: “This is what you get when you outsource.”
“MoneyBart“ (stylized as “MoneyBART“) is the third episode of the 22nd season of The Simpsons. It first aired on the Fox Network in the United States on 10 October 2010.
In this episode, Lisa coaches Bart’s Little League baseball team to a record winning streak by using her book smarts in statistics and probability. However, when Bart questions Lisa’s coaching tactics and accuses her of taking the fun out of baseball, Lisa benches him from the championship game.
The episode was written by Tim Long. It features an opening sequence and couch gag written by Banksy, who stated he had been “inspired by reports that Simpsons characters are animated in Seoul, South Korea.”
The episode was watched in a total of 6.74 million households.
Critical reception was generally favorable, with praises towards the story and jokes but criticism towards the episode’s use of baseball-themed celebrity cameos.
It is the first time that an artist has been invited to storyboard the show. Executive Producer Al Jean first took note of Banksy after seeing his 2010 film Exit Through The Gift Shop. According to Jean, “The concept in my mind was, ‘What if this graffiti artist came in and tagged our main titles.”
The Simpsons Casting Director Bonnie Pietila was able to contact the artist through the film’s producers, and asked if he would be interested in writing a main title for the show. Jean said Banksy “sent back boards for pretty much what you saw.”
Series creator Matt Groening gave the idea his blessing, and helped try to make the sequence as close to Banksy‘s original storyboards as possible.
Fox’s standard and practices department demanded some changes, and Jean agreed to them “for taste”; Jean said that “95 percent of it is just the way he [Banksy] wanted,” but declined to say what was in the censored 5%, only saying that the original version was “even a little sadder.” In January 2011, Banksy published the original storyboard on his website. It appears that a poster of Rupert Murdoch could be the 5% that was left out of the final cut.
In the scene, immediately after the Simpsons sit down on the couch, the camera zooms out and it depicts a sweatshop full of people working in deplorable conditions to produce animation cells and Simpsons merchandise. A young boy dips one of the animation cells in some sort of toxic, hazardous material and then hangs it to dry. All around the fictional scene are piles of bones and human skeletons (presumably of the previous person that had his job). As the camera goes down a ladder, the trademark Banksy rat is seen dragging one of the bones off camera.
Down below, we see more children throwing live cats in a wood chipper to produce the stuffing for Bart Simpson dolls. These dolls are then loaded into a wagon begin carried by an exhausted looking, sad Panda bear. As the Panda walks off screen, we see a man sealing boxes of merchandise, but instead of a tape gun, he is using a severed dolphin head with its tongue sticking out to seal the boxes.
As the camera shifts again, we see another man punching holes in Simpsons DVDs and putting them in their box. To create the hole for the disc, he is punching the disk on a fictional unicorn’s horn – while it collapses from fatigue and mistreatment. It’s leg is chained to the wall and the conditions are bleak and depressing throughout.
The introductory scene is much longer than usual for a Simpsons episode, and is on brand for Banksy. In a lighthearted, silly comedy about “America’s Favorite, Fictional Family” we are reminded about the true human cost associated with what it takes to produce all the things Western society doesn’t give a second thought to. It is a depressing and somber opening, and the music fits the mood…
Original Story Board Released by Banksy