I've already regaled you with the details of my early childhood exposure to The Simpsons (and, by extension, the Grace Films logo that tags along at the end of every episode), so I thought I'd open this case study with an anecdote from a much more recent point in my existence. Earlier this month, I went to see the film Nocturnal Animals, and had the misfortune of being seated in the row behind three fellow cinema-goers who were being rude and inconsiderate as fuck. Patrons who tap away at glowing phone screens in the naive assumption that this can be done at all discreetly in a darkened auditorium have unfortunately become so commonplace that I've almost grudgingly learned to ignore them, but these three were certainly the first I'd come across who had the audacity to watch unmuted YouTube videos while the screening was in process. About twenty minutes or so into the film, a man directly behind them leaned over and hissed in hushed but still very forceful tones, "Will you switch that bloody thing off?! No, don't just lower it down a couple of inches and think that I can't still see it! Turn it off!" Forty minutes or so into the film, they apparently decided that he'd no longer mind if they whipped out their phones and resumed their disruptive behaviour, so he responded in the exact same manner. I bloody loved this man.
Actually, I found the spectacle doubly cathartic due to an experience I'd had a couple of weeks prior when, during a Halloween screening of Train To Busan, a girl with the most unbelievably atrocious-sounding cough came and sat right next to me. The screening was hardly a sell-out and there were plenty of vacant seats she could have chosen where she would have been able to minimise any potential disturbance she might have caused, but instead she opted to park her strep-ridden self at my side and, every two minutes, subject my ear drums to the sounds of the total phlegm orgy happening way down in the depths of her throat. I put up with it for about ten minutes before I scarpered for one of those vacant seats myself.
Fresh from those two experiences, I suddenly find myself with a renewed appreciation for the "Shush Lady" from the Gracie Films logo. She lives in a far quainter world, where the only disturbance she has to contend with is the indistinct chattering of her fellow movie theatre patrons, but one has to admire the proficiency with which she can command an entire theatre into silence with a simple shushing. I salute you, Shush Lady.
Gracie Films was founded in 1986 by producer James L. Brooks and was so named as a tribute to the comedian Gracie Allen. Their first production, and the first to feature the characteristic "shush" logo, was The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987, although naturally that series is forever doomed to wallow in the shadow of the little devils it breast-fed, and nowadays the logo is primarily associated with that Tracey Ullman Show spin-off you've probably heard of. Through that association alone, the Gracie Films logo has received exposure to kill for and now ranks among the most popular and widely-recognised of television logos. Other Gracie Films productions to carry the logo include Sibs, Phenom, What About Joan? and The Critic, although odds are heavy that it's thanks to The Simpsons that you know this one. (We'll be talking about The Critic - a flawed but nevertheless highly underrated series - in a lot more depth in 2017).
Personally I've always had a massive weakness for it. Even back when the entirety of my Simpsons-viewing experience consisted of the measly six episodes my family had on VHS, this logo stood out as being pretty marvelous. It's unique, quirky and charming, and on top of that there's something distinctly warm and comforting about its leitmotif. I don't recall ever getting any freakiness vibes from this one either - unless you happen to have a thing about people appearing in silhouette form, then I don't see why you would detect anything at all sinister here. The only variation which I could see proving reasonably frightening to some viewers would be the "Treehouse of Horror" variant, below, which includes the sounds of a woman (and presumed imminent murder victim) screaming, followed by a spooky organ version of the Gracie Films theme (over the course of the series, The Simpsons has had a heck of a lot of fun with this logo, and numerous variations have cropped up, my personal favourite being "Homer The Great" (2F09) of Season 6, where Carl's "Shut up!" is grafted onto the usual shushing). If there's any general scare factor to be had from the logo, at least as it appears in The Simpsons, then it's in the startling contrast between the gentleness of the Gracie Films logo and the blaring, bombastic 20th Century Fox one that follows.
A few particularly observant folks have noted the similarity of the Gracie Films theme to the hook of the 1990 song, "The King of Wishful Thinking" by British pop duo Go West, which became a hit after being featured on the Pretty Woman soundtrack. The resemblance is apparently so convincing that the Grace Films theme is sometimes incorrectly credited as deriving directly from the Go West song, although as you can see the dates don't quite add up. Still, once you've made the (seemingly coincidental) connection, it becomes awfully challenging not to have those lyrics running through your head on encountering the logo.
Finally, you should check out the official Gracie Films website. Not much there but an extended (and interactive!) flash version of the logo, but damn it, how on earth could you pass as pure a delight as that by?