March 2011 Archives

Meltdowns Being Removed From The Simpsons

meltdownNetworks in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland are planning to edit Simpsons episodes that feature nuclear disasters, because evidently the Fun Police in those countries have decided it's not ok to laugh at cartoon meltdowns while real-life meltdowns are occurring. It's unclear how far these networks are intending to go; the episodes "Homer Defined" and "King-Size Homer" would almost certainly be severely cut down or removed from rotation altogether, but are appearances by Blinky the three-eyed fish ok? What about Homer throwing a bar plutonium in the sewer every week in the title sequence? Fortunately, the censors only have to go through eight seasons, after which Homer all but quits his job at the plant to take on a multitude of wacky new jobs.

Meanwhile, Diablo Canyon Power Plant in California, best known for being namedropped in "Bart on the Road," is facing increased criticism for violating safety regulations, as well as its close proximity to multiple fault lines.

[Hollywood Reporter via @dailysimpsons]
[Rachel Maddow]

Why in the World Hasn't Jackie-O Motherfucker Been on The Simpsons?!?

homer rockstarA music critic at Drowned in Sound has a beef with The Simpsons: for some inexplicable reason, that integrity-lacking coward sellout Matt Groening won't let Jackie-O Motherfucker be on his 8 o'clock sitcom.

He claims to be a fan, having booked them when curating ATP, yet asked recently by The Guardian if he'd consider having them on his show, he replied, "That would be pushing it". Given that Groening purports to have taste, it would make a refreshing change from the conveyer belt of populist, soft-rock cameo appearances from the dinosaur likes of U2, REM, Metallica, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, and Green Day.

Fair enough - Groening used to brag about inviting Spinal Tap and The Ramones over the objections of the Fox network back in the day; it's hard to imagine network bigwigs objecting to U2, Coldplay, and Katy Perry. But what about the controversial name? Jackie O died just seventeen short years ago, and America still needs time to grieve.

The needlessly provocative band name could be bleeped out, or they could abbreviate it to 'JOMF', as the group's more recent record sleeves have done. They could perform an impromptu gig at Moe's, with Lisa providing the free-sax solos.

Could Harry Shearer be the Next Aflac Duck?

harry shearerNow that Aflac has dumped Gilbert Gottfried as the voice (quack?) of its disyllabic duck character, who should replace him? timlowell, a commenter (commentator?) over at The Awl suggests Simpsons thespian Harry Shearer as a possible candidate:

Harry Shearer does a regular bit on Le Show where he mimics Gilbert Gottfried's Aflac duck, except he changes it to "AF-PAK", as in what the military calls the Afghanistan/Pakistan region. I e-mailed him, but he hasn't responded.

Here's the most recent "News of AFPAK" segment, so you can judge for yourself.

Matt Groening Finally Sells Out

Julian Assange
Close-up via NUMBER 3
Yes, it's true. For the first time ever, you will be able to buy t-shirts with Matt Groening characters on them.

How did we get here? For decades, Groening has been adamant in his refusal to merchandise his highly popular creations (outside of book collections and DVD releases). He has rejected countless offers to license his characters, turning down billions of dollars in the process. After spending years battling his syndicate, he announced his decision to end his long-running comic strip Life in Hell in 1995. Pent-up demand for officially licensed Simpsons merchandise lead to a boom in bootleg car decals featuring Bart Simpson urinating on various logos, which is now a million-dollar industry despite its questionable legality. The ever-reclusive cartoonist has made virtually no public appearances since the famous incident at the Fox network upfront presentations in 1998, when he declared money to be the root of all evil and ran out the auditorium during the announcement of Futurama.

His anti-commercial martyrdom took its toll on his personal life. After his divorce in 1999, Groening retreated to a yurt in central Oregon and cut off all ties with his close friends, including Lynda Barry, creator of the mega-popular Fox sitcom Marly's, and Gary Panter, who took over Peanuts in 2000. After seven years in isolation, Groening re-emerged with The Mean Kids, a dense 16 x 21 inch 20,000-page graphic novel that bankrupted its publisher, Buenaventura Press, upon its release.

So what changed his mind? "Well, I had a lot of time to think about it," he told The New Yorker. "I figure a few pieces of merchandise here and there couldn't hurt, as long as I oversee all aspects of their production and donate the profits to charity. I want my signature to become synonymous with high quality and social responsibility."

The "PLAY IN HELL" series of T-shirts will be available in Comme de Garcons stores starting next week. [On the Runway]

Werner Herzog Thought The Simpsons Was a Comic Strip

herzogAcclaimed German director Werner Herzog (Fitzcarraldo, Grizzly Man, Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2) was apparently unaware that The Simpsons was a TV show, if the shoe-eating auteur is to be believed:

An episode of The Simpsons is soon due to air in which Herzog's famous voice will make a cameo appearance. "I was very surprised when they approached me because I thought The Simpsons was a newspaper cartoon. So when they called, I said, 'Do a voice? I don't understand, it's a TV programme?' They thought I was joking," he continues, chuckling, "but I was not."

Well, it was a weekly comic strip for like a year, so he was partially right. [The Guardian]