To Crop or Not to Crop: The Dilemma of 'The Simpsons' Marathon and More

The problematic issues surrounding presenting 4:3 aspect ratio television shows as widescreen.
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In airing the mega-marathon of The Simpsons (consisting of every episode of the long-running show plus The Simpsons Movie), FXX was faced with a dilemma: how to present the pre-2009 episodes which were created in a 4:3 standard television aspect ratio. They decided to crop and stretch them to HD TV's 16:9 aspect ratio to spare viewers from having black bars on the sides of their images. However, complaints have been coming in that the cropping has compromised the integrity of the episodes, including eliminating certain jokes.

On the heels of that--and the rumors that HBO will be doing something similar for a remastered version of The Wire--Jason Bailey of Flavorwire makes an impassioned plea for why this practice is problematic. He writes, "Now obviously, The Simpsons isn’t going away. But it’s a work of art, and works of art should be properly preserved and exhibited. And this leads us to The Wire, which is roughly the television equivalent of Lawrence of Arabia, a five-season knockout that countless television aficionados (this one included) consider the very finest program the medium has ever given us. The news that HBO is remastering the program in high-def is good. The rumor that said HD upgrade would mean cropping the show from its original 4:3 aspect ratio is very troubling."

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