Saturday, July 15, 2006

Reader's Diary #126- Nancy Cartwright: My Life As a 10-Year-Old Boy (up to "Good Grammer")

Good: Cartwright is undeniably successful. One of those fortunate few have have fame without the recognition. Sure lots of Simpson fans know the name, some would even recognize her- but still, she's not the face of Jennifer Aniston or Paris Hilton or any other tabloid mug. Cartwright gets her fair share of privacy, which is quite an accomplishment in Hollywood- especially for someone associated with a show as successful as The Simpsons. How did she get to that point? Read the book. As a "How-To" book, My Life As a 10-Year-Old Boy shines, and the most important lesson seems to be: Network. For the more cynical, it's akin to saying "It's not what you know, it's who you know." But Cartwright has made her career getting to know people, the right people, and there's no denying that it's worked for her.

Bad: Autobiographies are never easy. It's hard not to be biased and self-serving. (If you can think of any exceptions, let me know. Lucky Man by Michael J. Fox comes to mind). Cartwright unfortunately is no exception. She toots her own horn a little too loudly for my taste. It's not over-the-top bragging, she does acknowledge luck at times and does praise the other castmates. But it's one other castmate in particular that should be mentioned here; Dan Castellaneta. Cartwright mentions a Time magazine article that places Bart among the "Top Artists and Entertainers of the Twentieth Century". As a Simpsons fan, it's bugged me that magazines like Time still refer to Bart as the icon. In the first couple of seasons, Bart was the star. He made the cover of Rolling Stone, 20/20 did a show on him, etc. It was well deserved. But it was also short lived (or should have been). As any true fan knows, Homer (voiced by Castellaneta) has long since eclipsed the popularity of Bart. People watch for Homer. People quote from Homer. Cartwright seems a little in the dark on that fact. No doubt that would be a tough thing to acknowledge, but it's true. But to give credit to Bart, I've tried to come up with my three favourite Bart moments, (and I'd like you to do the same):
1. In "Lisa The Beauty Queen" when he's giving Lisa tips on how to become Little Miss Springfield
2. In "Lisa Vs. Malibu Stacy" When Lisa, Homer and Marge are talking with Stacy Lavelle, the original creator of Malibu Stacy to come up with a name for the Lisa-inspired new doll. Bart is in the background shouting out insulting names (ex. "Stupid Lisa Garbage Face") and just about goes nuts when no one acknowledges him whatsoever.
3. In "Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie" when Bart is entertaining Lisa with Grandpa's dentures. (Though Homer trumps Bart's act with the quote, "Young man, since you broke Grandpa's teeth, then he gets to break yours.")

Undecided: Cartwright has a very unpretentious style of writing. That's one way of putting it. Cartwright has a very fluffy, overly simplistic style akin to emails. That's the other. In the words of Becky, a Bart fan, she "writes the way people talk!"


John Mutford said...

I know "Grammer" should have an "a" not an "e" but that's the way it's spelled in the book.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

It's tough to narrow down, but off hand, I would say when:

Bart becomes a ballet star: "See that? I started to do a little arabesque but then I just fully went for it and pulled off the semi-entrechant. Not that I'm into that kind of thing."

Bart get Stampy the elephant.

Bart has to go on a playdate with Ralphie Wiggums (although that's almost more about Ralphie)

John Mutford said...

The ballet episode came to my mind too.

I loved the Stampy episode as well. But my favourite moments were Homer moments- getting caught in the tar pit. And head-butting the sanctuary guy at the end.

Though other Bart moments came to mind since I posted- ripping the head of Mr. Honey Bunny and instantly regretting it and in the same episode, i.e., "Lisa On Ice", when he (Bart) tries to intrude on Lisa's turf by answering every question at school- Alas, he answers them wrong.

Anonymous said...

I breezed through the book last year ... it has interesting bits for Simpsons fans, but it is undeniably slight.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I also quite like the one where they go to the Indian casino and Bart has a vision of the future where Lisa is the US President, and "smell you later" has officially replaced goodbye.

John Mutford said...

Hah. Just read the "Good Grammer" chapter- it's about Kelsey Grammer, hence the spelling.

John, So far there's not even a whole lot for fans. I can't say there's a lot I didn't already know- though I guess it is interesting to read about them in the beginning when they had no idea it was going to be the smash it was.

Barbara, I'm surprised with the Simpsons pull that "Smell You Later" didn't actually catch on for a short while after- well, more so than it already had, I guess.