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'The Simpsons' Turn 20, Though in TV Land They Haven't Aged a Day

A listener question about how Americans teach children about money. And the playful music of Katy Perry. Transcript of radio broadcast:


Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.


I'm Doug Johnson. This week:

We listen to music from Katy Perry …

Answer a listener question about how parents teach their children about money …

But first, we look at the television family "The Simpsons," still funny after a historic number of seasons on air.


The Simpsons


A popular American animated television show began its twentieth season last month. "The Simpsons" now ties the old show "Gunsmoke" in number of seasons broadcast. "Gunsmoke" was a Western dramatic show. It was on television from nineteen fifty-five until nineteen seventy-five. "The Simpsons" was first broadcast in nineteen eighty-nine. It is the longest running situation comedy series on television. Faith Lapidus tells about the show and how it stays current.


"The Simpsons" is about a white, working class family in an average American town called Springfield. The mother is the intelligent and responsible blue-haired Marge. The father, Homer, works at the nuclear power center. Homer is lazy, fat, stupid and selfish but still lovable.

The Simpson children are Bart, Lisa and baby Maggie. Bart gets into a lot of trouble and does poorly in school. Lisa is an excellent student and deep thinker, as well as a great saxophone player. Maggie does not talk, but expresses herself with the baby pacifier that never leaves her mouth.

Cartoonist Matt Groening created "The Simpsons." He has said that Bart is partly based on himself. Groening named some of the Simpson characters after his own family members.

The cartoonist has said no one expected "The Simpsons" to become such a huge success. One reason for its popularity is the large number of funny characters in Springfield. They provide a good, if sometimes extreme, representation of America. Another reason is because the show explores current issues in American life. They include freedom of speech, election corruption, rights for homosexuals, environmental destruction and common family problems. The show makes fun of many social, religious, political and cultural issues.

Because it is a cartoon show, the Simpsons can go anywhere and do anything, so the writers never run out of ideas. Critics say the show is still interesting, intelligent and funny after almost twenty years. "The Simpsons" has won more than twenty Emmy awards. Critics have called it one of the best American television shows in history. Listen now to a little from "The Simpsons."

BART SIMPSON: "Yo. Who's this?"

DENNIS LEARY: "Dennis Leary, you little puke. I'm gonna rip out your heart with two fingers. They taught me how to do it for my show."

BART: "Which show? The one that got canceled or the one that's gonna get canceled?"

DENNIS: "You are so dead."

(Bart and friend Milhouse laugh)

MARGE SIMPSON: "That laughter sounds like the result of misbehavior. Bart! How did you get a cell phone?"

BART: "Same way you got me … by accident, on a golf course."

MARGE: "Mmmph … whose phone is this?"

BART: "You'll never get it out of me."

MARGE: "O.K. Milhouse?"

MILHOUSE: "It's Dennis Leary's! I'm sorry, Bart. I'm desperate for any signs of adult approval."


Because of its popularity, hundreds of famous people have been heard on "The Simpsons," playing themselves or other characters. They include actors, athletes, journalists, musicians and even astronauts.

Teaching Children About Money


Our listener question this week comes from Chirawan Chidchob who wants to know how American parents teach their children about money.

To answer this question, we talked to several parents and a teacher. Many parents said they give their children small amounts of money each week called allowances. Some parents ask their children to do work around the house to earn the money. Having this small income helps children learn about the cost of goods and the value of money. It also helps them learn what it is like to have a job and earn money for doing it well. Many parents give their smaller children "piggy banks." Children collect their coins in these containers and learn about saving money.

Suze Orman is a well-known American financial expert. She gives advice about money on television and in her articles and books. She suggests that parents set clear limits with their children when shopping. And she says parents should explain where their money comes from to show children the value of working and earning money. Miz Orman also says it is important for parents to show their children how they pay for living expenses such as energy, telephone and water each month. This will help the child understand what it costs to live. And, she suggests teaching young adults about credit cards and the dangers of owing too much money.

Christy Levings has taught elementary school children in the state of Kansas for over thirty years. Her money lessons include teaching students about financial centers like the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City. She also helps her students create imaginary businesses. She gives the children an amount of money for wages. She helps them imagine what it would be like to run a business and plan a budget. She also advises her students to have good habits like counting their change when make a purchase.

Christy Levings says many students have asked their teachers questions about the current financial crisis. She says children hear their parents talk about the failing economy. She says the role of teachers is to be calm and supportive. Miz Levings says teachers are telling students that Americans must make careful choices and help each other during this difficult economic period.

Katy Perry


Twenty-three year old singer Katy Perry sings playful and energetic songs about the ups and downs of love. Her album "One of the Boys" has become a hit around the world. This singer from southern California says that all of her songs have a sense of humor whether they are happy or sad. Barbara Klein has more.



That was the hit song "I Kissed a Girl." It is a good example of Katy Perry's smart, funny and often surprising songs. She started her singing career with a much less wild kind of music. The daughter of two religious workers, Katy grew up listening to and singing gospel songs. Her parents did not permit non-religious music.

When Katy Perry was staying at a friend's house, she discovered the music of the English rock group Queen. She says she was greatly influenced by their colorful style and musicality. As a teenager, she began writing her own songs with experts in the music industry. At the age of sixteen she even produced an album of Christian music.

Here is her new album's title song, "One of the Boys."


Katy Perry is known for her fun clothes. Her clothing is influenced by the styles of the nineteen forties and the bright colors of the nineteen eighties. Many clothing designers have praised her special sense of style. We leave you with the energetic song "Hot N Cold."



I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program today.

It was written by Dana Demange and Caty Weaver, who was also the producer. Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.