The Simpsons | Popular show at centre of worker ageism row

Popular show at centre of worker ageism row

Alf Clausen is a name that all fans of the iconic yellow TV family The Simpsons will know well.

The 78-year-old composer was an integral part of creating the hit show, having composed and directed the orchestral incidental music and songs for over 560 episodes. However, Clausen is now suing the show after being dismissed in 2017 for what he calls ‘ageism and disability’ discrimination.

The iconic composer was responsible for many of The Simpsons’ most memorable musical moments including ‘The Stonecutters Song’, ‘We put the spring in Springfield’ and Kirk Van Outen’s magnum opus ‘Can I borrow a feeling’.

After a decorated career composing scores for films such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Naked Gun, Clausen was approached by The Simpsons creator Matt Groening in 1990 to compose for the show. His first episode, the season two Treehouse of Horrors special, aired the same year.

The show’s bosses, the US-based FOX network, disputed Clausen’s claims and stated that it wanted to take the music for The Simpsons ‘in a different direction’ when Clausen’s dismissal was confirmed, states Variety.

However, in the following lawsuit, Clausen challenged these claims. The lawsuit states: “(The ‘different direction’ claim) is pantextual and false. Instead, Plaintiff’s unlawful termination was due to perceived disability and age.” 

A statement issued at the time of Clausen’s dismissal stated: “Alf Clausen will continue to have an ongoing role in the show. We remain committed to the finest in music for The Simpsons, absolutely including orchestral music. This is the part where we would make a joke, but neither Alf’s work nor the music of The Simpsons is treated as anything but seriously by us.”

What is ageism?

Ageism is judging or dismissing a worker unfairly based on their age; this can include the way that older people are treated in the workplace and can impact worker wellbeing and job stability. 

Research from Jobrapido cited age discrimination as the top obstacle for Brits when returning to work. 24% of the 2,027 survey respondents felt that the main barrier preventing them from getting a job was their age and that the jobs they were applying for had been given to younger candidates instead.

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