It seems like every time I turn on the computer, someone is arguing that The Simpsons “predicted” something or other. Most recently, people are pointing to an episode (“Brother’s Little Helper”), in which the Cardinals spy on people. This is being sold as evidence that The Simpsons has some kind of predictive power.
The MLB satellite
Of course, in that episode, Major League Baseball is spying on all of us–a Cardinal player (Mark McGwire) is just the representative shown. In that case, The Simpsons predicted McGwire’s cheating and every other baseball related scandal too.
One of the more annoying articles about this came last year, when people “discovered” that The Simpsons made an Ebola joke in 1997. This was evidence, apparently, that The Simpsons knew there would be an Ebola outbreak in 2014, rather than being evidence that The Simpsons made a joke about an earlier outbreak (which is why we all go the joke in 1997).
I’m tired of it. The Simpsons writers are brilliant; they’re great at tapping into the zeitgeist. And, with 26 seasons of episodes, there’s bound to be a lot of overlap between the fictional and the real.
However, we need to stop jumping to conclusions that any of this is intentional, especially without doing some research first.
For example, some of my students watching “Duffless” thought an ad for Duff Beer was a parody of Red Bull ads. The Duff Beer ad was created way before the Red Bull ones, so it would be more logical to assume that Red Bull owes The Simpsons some money. However, both ads are playing off of old-fashioned ads for cigarettes.
It’s tempting to see things and to try to create a pattern. I did it years ago when I noticed that three Simpsons episodes about spiritual quests feature the song “Short Shorts” (“The Mysterious Voyage of Homer,” “She of Little Faith,” and “Homer the Heretic”).
Homer the Heretic
She of Little Faith
The Mysterious Voyage of Homer
Thus, I did what any Simpsons’ scholar would–I asked someone on the show. Chris Ledesma, music editor extraordinaire, took my question to the writer/producers. They were floored by the coincidence. They were also floored that nerds like me are paying that much attention.
I would still like to believe that the show has a subtle message: To achieve enlightenment, wear skimpier clothes.
All that said, I’m surprised I haven’t been bombarded by articles about something The Simpsons may actually have anticipated.
Remember back to a few years ago, when bacon with chocolate was new? When it seemed odd, but you decided to try it?
In 2003, Homer Simpson commands God (through prayer) to come up with a new taste sensation–a new snack. Homer’s prayer then inadvertently (or advertently–God works in mysterious ways) causes an accident between a bacon truck and a fudge truck.
Homer thinks it’s awesome.
So do I.
That’s bacon covered fudge flying to him!