Bart-Mangled Banner

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"Bart-Mangled Banner"
The Simpsons episode
Bart-Mangled Banner.png
Bart accidentally moons the flag
Episode no. 334
Directed by Steven Dean Moore
Written by John Frink
Showrunner(s) Al Jean
Production code FABF17
Original air date May 16, 2004
Couch gag The couch is replaced by a giant microwave. Someone puts a tray inside and presses a button. The Simpsons rise from the tray as it cooks.
Al Jean
John Frink
Matt Selman
Don Payne
Dana Gould
Michael Price
Tom Gammill
Max Pross
Steven Dean Moore

"Bart-Mangled Banner" is the twenty-first episode of The Simpsons' fifteenth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 16, 2004.


Homer and Marge take the kids to get their shots. Just before Dr. Hibbert is about to inject Bart, he escapes. After a chase through town, Hibbert finally outsmarts Bart, by having Barney wear a latex mask, and finally injects him. The shot, however, causes Bart's earholes to swell shut, making him temporarily deaf. Hibbert also tricks Homer into signing a malpractice waiver. Marge wanted Bart to stay home; however, Bart wants to play in the donkey basketball game.

While at the Springfield Elementary School donkey basketball game, Bart taunts a donkey with a carrot, unaware that the school is reciting the national anthem. After he places the carrot in his shorts, the donkey takes it and rips off Bart's shorts. While Bart is bent over to keep his privates covered with his shirt, the US flag is put up behind him and a photo is taken, which results in the crowd assuming that Bart is mooning the US flag. Shortly afterwards, the Springfield Shopper takes the story and completely turns it around, making it seem as if Bart had deliberately mooned the flag. Marge and Homer tried to tell Skinner that Bart was deaf at the time; however, because Bart's history of pranks Skinner doesn't believe it. He and his family soon are hated by all of Springfield. Homer and Marge try to clear up this misunderstanding, knowing that it was an accident, but everybody refuses to listen, mistrusting Bart and his family.

The Simpsons are later asked to appear on a talk show and tell their side of the story. Homer advises Marge to not take it too far. However, the host asks, instead, "What part of America do you hate most?" (an example of the fallacy of many questions). Marge says that, if leading questions such as that are the only forms of discussion in the United States, then she does hate the United States. She also said that she is well liked in Springfield, prompting the host to say that Springfield hates the US. The US then turns their back on Springfield (though there's widespread celebration in praise of Springfield in the Middle East), so Mayor Quimby frantically decides to change the name of Springfield to "Liberty-ville." Everything in town is quickly patriotized; the traffic light colors are changed to red, white, and blue, and everything costs $17.76. While at church, Lisa speaks her opinion about patriotism, and the Simpsons are taken into custody, in violation of the "Government Knows Best Act."

The Simpsons are taken to the "Ronald Reagan Re-education Center", which houses Michael Moore, the Dixie Chicks, Elmo (who accidentally went to the wrong fundraiser), Al Franken, and Bill Clinton, as well as a man who moans "My only crime was driving a van full of explosives in from Canada!". Marge feels bad that she took it too far after Homer warned her not to. With some help from the last-registered Democrat, the Simpsons escape the prison (in a parody of the escape scene from The Blues Brothers), but realize that the re-education center is actually Alcatraz Prison. While they are swimming to land (choosing to swim to Oakland instead of San Francisco because they "aren't made of money"), they are picked up by a French freighter and are brought to France. They are well adjusted, but still miss the United States, mainly because it is where all their stuff is. They then move back to the US dressed as 19th century immigrants from Europe where Homer speaks of plans of integration into the United States.

Cultural references[edit]

  • The episode title is a play on the title of USA's National Anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner".
  • The scene where Dr. Hibbert chases Bart in a cropduster mirrors a scene in the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock thriller, North by Northwest.
  • When Homer is playing minigolf, a man at the golf court calls him Benedict Arnold.
  • As Homer is leaving the golf court, he smashes the United States Capitol and the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
  • When thinking about changing Springfield's name, Mayor Quimby refers to "Hitler City, NC", which (according to him) also changed its name to Charlotte.
  • The "Government Knows Best" act satirizes the controversial 2001 legislation, the Patriot Act, aimed at fighting terrorism in the United States and abroad.
  • Those imprisoned include Michael Moore, The Dixie Chicks, Bill Clinton, and the Sesame Street muppet character Elmo.
  • As the Simpsons are watching the re-educational cartoon, Lisa mentions that she has been given Sodium pentothal which is sometimes used during interrogations as a truth serum.
  • President Clinton's attempt to smoke 100 cigarettes at once is a reference to the Guinness World Records.
  • The Simpsons are scheduled to perform at the prison talent show after Al Franken.
  • At the talent show, the Simpsons start singing "America the Beautiful" and then switch to their own song.
  • During her performance, Lisa burns an ACLU card.
  • The entire performance is a parody of "The Sound of Music" where the cast escapes from the Nazis.
  • As the family is swimming away from the prison, the Golden Gate Bridge is visible in the background, implying that the prison itself was Alcatraz (though Alcatraz stopped being used as a prison in 1963). The family also debates whether to swim towards San Francisco, likely because of its socially liberal policies, or towards Oakland because of affordability.
  • As they are being rescued by the French sailor, Marge makes a reference to Catherine Deneuve, a French actress.

Previous episode references[edit]

  • The dress worn by Marge in Paris is the one she bought from the Chanel shop (after the one she found at the outlet shop got chewed up in the sewing machine) on season seven's "Scenes From The Class Struggle in Springfield".
  • The term "Bart-Mangled Banner" was previously used in the episode "Bart vs. Lisa vs. the Third Grade" when Bart destroys Lisa's flag project.