Obviously any course that addresses issues of science, technology, and society uses the 4th Season Simpsons masterpiece, Marge v. the Monorail (unfortunately, this episode capsule doesn’t have the full transcript). It is hallowed as a pitch perfect take on the technology-society relationship. That much has already been established. I’m just telling you what you know.
But there are serious weaknesses in its classroom use. These should not go unaddressed, even though the great and inglorious downfall of the Simpsons enterprise after their seventh season or so should (and, to that end, I think Matthew Baldwin at Defective Yeti has spoken well).
Those weaknesses can be summarized as follows: students will often rightly laugh at a line, but then unwittingly continue laughing so as to miss the next line, said next line also being deserving of laughter. They overlaugh. They miss the follow-up. It mucks the whole thing up.
Case in point:
Marge finds Sebastian Cobb, the haircut-needing designer of Lyle Lanley’s “crappy” Monorail, and brings him to Springfield to help Homer. Homer, as we know, is dealing with a runaway train situation. She calls Homer in the Monorail:
Marge: There’s a man here who thinks he can help you.
Marge: No, he’s a scientist.
Homer: Batman’s a scientist.
Well, so the transcript doesn’t do it service and I wonder if better punctuation would help. Nevertheless, we find that students laugh when Homer asks if the man there to help is Batman. They laugh out loud They do. (I have it recorded. I’m very empirical.) But then they miss the better line, which is when Marge says no, and Homer answers without pause that Batman’s a scientist.
My question to the audience: what kind of scientist is Batman?