kottke.org posts about The Simpsons
The Simpsons is the longest-running series in primetime TV history. The show’s 27 seasons hold much potential treasure for data scientists. Todd Schneider downloaded the scripts from every show and analyzed which characters spoke the most and where. The results reveal a heavy focus on Homer and a large gender imbalance in terms of dialogue.
The colors of the bars in the above graphs represent gender: blue for male characters, red for female. If we look at the supporting cast, the 14 most prominent characters are all male before we get to the first woman, Mrs. Krabappel, and only 5 of the top 50 supporting cast members are women.
Women account for 25% of the dialogue on The Simpsons, including Marge and Lisa, two of the show’s main characters. If we remove the Simpson nuclear family, things look even more lopsided: women account for less than 10% of the supporting cast’s dialogue.
See also Film Dialogue from 2000 screenplays, Broken Down by Gender and Age.
Vox recently took a look at every single job that Homer has ever had on The Simpsons in an attempt to see where his average salary falls on the economic spectrum in America.
Over the show’s 596-episode run, Homer has had at least 191 jobs. They’ve ranged from executive positions to service jobs, and have dotted the entire economic spectrum, from ultra-rich to the poverty line.
In the list below, we’ve compiled the real-life salaries for 100 of these jobs. Seasonal jobs (like “mall Santa”), and jobs that were virtually impossible to find salary data for (“beer smuggler”) were excluded, as were any repeats (he was an Army private twice, for instance). His full-time gig as a safety inspector is highlighted in yellow, for reference.
He gets a lot of flack, but Homer is actually the most interesting person in America by a wide margin, even though he’s not well compensated for it.
See also Homer Economicus: The Simpsons and Economics.
There are tons of movie references in The Simpsons, but the show leans more heavily on referencing Stanley Kubrick’s films than perhaps any other director. As you can see in the video, there are dozens of references to 2001, Dr. Strangelove, The Shining, and even Eyes Wide Shut sprinkled throughout the series.
The couch gag on last night Simpsons episode was illustrated in the style of an Ikea instruction manual. See also the Ikea instructions for making Dick in the Box.
When a show spans 27 seasons and almost 600 episodes, you’re bound to hit your futuristic mark at least some of the time. Here are ten instances in which The Simpsons predicted inventions which have since come to pass, including smartwatches you can talk to, baby translators, and left-handed stores.
Hot Wheels released a die-cast version of The Homer, the “everyman” car designed by Homer Simpson in season two episode of The Simpsons. Designed for his half-brother’s car company, the car was so bad and expensive that it drove (ha!) the company out of business. And now it can be yours!
In this Simpsons couch gag, the show pays homage to some classic Disney animation styles. Featured are Steamboat Willie, Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Jungle Book and Fantasia. The animation was done by Eric Goldberg, who worked at Disney on films like Aladdin and Pocahontas.
From Celia Gomez, a supercut of some of the most notable movie references from The Simpsons. The Simpsons came out when I was 16 and while I loved it immediately, the show started making a whole lot more sense after I watched The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Citizen Kane, and Dr. Strangelove in my 20s. Lots of Kubrick in the Simpsons.
Frinkiac searches through the subtitles from every episode of The Simpsons (in the first 15 seasons) and returns screencaps of all the times when the search term was used. For example, inanimate:
Update: Hi diddley ho! The Frinkiac now does animated GIFs. Like this one. (via @buzz)
That’s Yoann Hervo’s tribute to The Simpsons in the form of a glitchy opening scene. I watched this last week and wasn’t going to post it but found myself thinking about it over the weekend so heeeeeere you go.
The opening credits sequence of The Wire done using clips from The Simpsons. The theme song and clips are from the third seasons of the respective shows.
Harry Shearer, who voices dozens of characters on The Simpsons including Mr. Burns, Smithers, and Ned Flanders, announced on Twitter that he will be leaving the show. A few things:
1. The Simpsons is still on?
2. Shearer also voices Principal Skinner, Otto, Lenny, McBain, Reverend Lovejoy, Kent Brockman, Scratchy, Dr Hibbert, and dozens of smaller characters.
3. Will they replace him? Or just not use those characters anymore? How can you do the show without Burns, Smithers, Flanders, and Skinner? But if they sound different, how can you do the show with them?
Update: Aaaaaand Shearer is back on the show.
Shearer has signed the same contract as did the other five primary voice actors — Dan Castellaneta, Yeardley Smith, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, and Hank Azaria — keeping the show’s original cast fully intact, EW has learned. These deals, which run for four seasons (including a network option for seasons 29 and 30), are estimated at more than \$300,000 per episode. Fox recently renewed The Simpsons for a 27th and 28th season, which will bring its episode tally to 625.
Artist JK Keller has digitally widened1 episodes of The Simpsons and Seinfeld to fit a 16:9 HD aspect ratio. Watching the altered scenes is trippy…the characters and their surroundings randomly expand and contract as the scenes play out.
Keller also HD-ified an episode of the X-Files and slimmed an old episode of Star Trek into a vertical aspect ratio. (via @frank_chimero)
An Hermes Birkin bag costs between $10,000 and $150,000, and women of a certain income bracket who own Birkin bags are putting their babies in them.
There are babies in blue Birkin bags, babies in green Birkin bags, babies in patterned Birkin bags, babies in unknown original color Birkin bags, and babies in bougainvillea ostrich Birkin bags.
This woman made her daughter a Birkin bag Halloween costume.
Who started the Baby-in-a-Birkin trend?
It appears Maggie Simpson is the culprit.
These crayon sculptures by Hoang Tran are amazing.
Select sculptures are available on Etsy. (via ignant)
On Reddit, a fan of The Simpsons recently outlined his theory that Homer Simpson has been in a coma for the past 20 years and everything on the show since mid-1993 has taken place in Homer’s head. Here’s the argument…
In the series’ first clip show, which aired in the fourth season, Bart pranks Homer by shaking up his beer can in a paint shaker. The beer explodes and knocks Homer into a coma. At the end of the episode, Homer is shown waking up from the coma. But maybe he didn’t? As possible evidence, the theorist suggests that’s why the Simpsons never age:
This is why the characters don’t age. Homer remembers Bart, Lisa, and Maggie as 10, 8, and 1 year old, so they will always appear that way in his dreams. He is subconsciously aware of time passing, so his mind will often “update” his memories so that the year they occurred matches up with the age he thinks he is.
And it’s also why the plots on the show became more outlandish after the coma episode:
This is clearly Homer’s imagination running wild. With no real world restrictions, Homer’s mind is able to dream up scenarios of him and his family in fantasies involving him winning a Grammy, his father fighting his boss for buried WW2 treasure, his wife getting breast implants, his infant daughter saving him from drowning, etc.
That’s pretty clever. It immediately reminded me of two things:
1. The entirety of St. Elsewhere took place inside the mind of an autistic kid named Tommy Westphall. And since St. Elsewhere was referenced on other TV shows like Homicide: Life on the Street, that means those shows (and the shows referenced on those shows) also took place in Westphall’s mind.
2. From 1991 to 1994, a show called Herman’s Head aired on Fox. The show took place partially in the main character’s head. Among the cast are two regular Simpsons cast members: Hank Azaria (Moe, Chief Wiggum, Apu, Comic Book Guy, etc.) and Yeardley Smith (Lisa). Super-crazy theory: perhaps Herman’s Head inspired Homer’s coma?
Update: Of course this theory isn’t true. Al Jean, a writer and show runner for The Simpsons during season four, told TMZ that Homer hasn’t been in a coma for the past 20 years. (thx, greg)
Acclaimed science and math writer Simon Singh has written a book on the mathematics of The Simpsons, The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets. Boing Boing has an excerpt.
The principles of rubber sheet geometry can be extended into three dimensions, which explains the quip that a topologist is someone who cannot tell the difference between a doughnut and a coffee cup. In other words, a coffee cup has just one hole, created by the handle, and a doughnut has just one hole, in its middle. Hence, a coffee cup made of a rubbery clay could be stretched and twisted into the shape of a doughnut. This makes them homeomorphic.
By contrast, a doughnut cannot be transformed into a sphere, because a sphere lacks any holes, and no amount of stretching, squeezing, and twisting can remove the hole that is integral to a doughnut. Indeed, it is a proven mathematical theorem that a doughnut is topologically distinct from a sphere. Nevertheless, Homer’s blackboard scribbling seems to achieve the impossible, because the diagrams show the successful transformation of a doughnut into a sphere. How?
Although cutting is forbidden in topology, Homer has decided that nibbling and biting are acceptable. After all, the initial object is a doughnut, so who could resist nibbling? Taking enough nibbles out of the doughnut turns it into a banana shape, which can then be reshaped into a sphere by standard stretching, squeezing, and twisting. Mainstream topologists might not be thrilled to see one of their cherished theorems going up in smoke, but a doughnut and a sphere are identical according to Homer’s personal rules of topology. Perhaps the correct term is not homeomorphic, but rather Homermorphic.
This happened a few days ago, but I just got a chance to check it out: FXX launched Simpsons World, a site where you can stream every Simpsons episode ever aired. You just need a cable login, as with HBO GO. There are apps too: iOS and Android. To get you started, here are the top 10 episodes of all time, from a 2003 Entertainment Weekly list.
1. Last Exit to Springfield
3. Cape Feare
4. Marge vs. the Monorail
5. Homer’s Phobia
6. Mr. Plow
7. Itchy & Scratchy Land
8. A Fish Called Selma
9. Treehouse of Horror V
10. The Last Temptation of Homer
Update: Got a bunch of complaints that the “free” in the title is misleading because a cable subscription is required, even though I explicitly called that out in the second sentence. Fair enough. But then again, if you’re going to nitpick, nothing is free. Even if you didn’t need a cable login, Simpsons World would hardly be free. You need access to an expensive computer or mobile device, high-speed internet access, and enough free (there’s that word again!) time to watch. And even if you’re viewing using a computer at the public library, you’re paying with your attention by watching advertising.
But all that is red herring nonsense. I was using “free” in the sense that for cable subscribers, they’re getting something they did not have for the same price they were previously paying. You know, free.
This Lego version of the Simpsons house looks amazing. Not sure if it’s $200 amazing, but still. These minimalist Lego Simpsons characters are much cheaper.
From Mallory Ortberg at The Toast, an appreciation of Ralph Wiggum.
Ralph is not a rule-follower like Lisa, nor a rule-breaker like Bart; Ralph does not observe the rules because he is almost completely unaware of them. More than any of the other students at Springfield Elementary, Ralph is a child. Bart and Lisa and Milhouse and Nelson and Janey are kids, and therein lies the difference. Ralph sees things that aren’t there (“Ralph, remember the time you said Snagglepuss was outside?” “He was going to the bathroom!”), eats paste, picks his nose, volunteers unprompted, nonsensical declarations (“My cat’s breath smells like cat food”) disguised as Zen koans. His character is sometimes written as dim-but-profound, sometimes borderline-psychotic, and occasionally developmentally disabled, but more than anything else, Ralph like what he is: a child who hasn’t yet aged into a kid, which is one of the most embarrassing things a child can be.
Goes nicely with this video of some of Ralph’s finest moments:
Homer Economicus is a new book which uses the fictional world of Springfield on The Simpsons to explain the basic concepts of economics.
Since The Simpsons centers on the daily lives of the Simpson family and its colorful neighbors, three opening chapters focus on individual behavior and decision-making, introducing readers to the economic way of thinking about the world. Part II guides readers through six chapters on money, markets, and government. A third and final section discusses timely topics in applied microeconomics, including immigration, gambling, and health care as seen in The Simpsons. Reinforcing the nuts and bolts laid out in any principles text in an entertaining and culturally relevant way, this book is an excellent teaching resource that will also be at home on the bookshelf of an avid reader of pop economics.
Chris Pattle has constructed Simpsons characters completely out of CSS.
We’ve come a long way from #cccccc and <font color=… And it looks like Pattle avoided the Simpson No-Nos.
Artist JK Keller took an episode of the Simpsons, ran the entire thing through some audio and video filters, and somehow it retains the full character of the show while also seeming like, as Keller puts it, “a frenetic mess of sight and sound”.
After ripping all the frames, I used software to turn the ripped images into vectors. Then I processed the files through Illustrator using the default Alignment & Distribution tools (23 different combinations). With the audio, I used a similar process, making a spectrogram image of the audio from each cut in the episode. Then I applied a variety of processes to the image to mimic the alignment/distribution used.
There’s a blizzard bearing down on the northeastern United States and here’s some essential information you need to know if you live in an affected area:
But seriously, you should follow @EricHolthaus for the latest storm info. (Ok, so we have our first celebrity Twitter weatherman. Weather and climate are going to become a lot more important in American pop culture…at what point do Gawker or Buzzfeed launch their climate verticals?)
Update: Gawker now has a climate vertical, The Vane. (via @bgporter)
A selection of good Ralph Wiggum moments from The Simpsons.
Pretty good, except that they missed “I’m Idaho”, “This tastes like burning”, and “Oh boy, sleep! That’s where I’m a viking!” (via @erikmal)
With the Olympics about two weeks away, consider this a final you-can’t-unsee-it reminder that the 2012 London Olympics logo looks like Lisa Simpson performing oral sex.
It’s not as bad as some of the others on this list (oh, that Mon-Sat logo), but it’s still exceptionally unforgettable. Enjoy the wall-to-wall Olympic coverage for the next two weeks!
If you’ve never seen the early seasons of The Simpsons, a good way to catch up might be to watch this:
Just a quick hack to experiment what happens if you watch a lot of The Simpsons episodes at the same time. It just took 10 lines of code and a few hours of processing.
About the video:
-Top to bottom: each row shows a season (from season 1 to season 10)
-Left to right: each column shows an episode (from episode 1 to episode 13)
A total of 130 episodes is displayed, framerate is 25fps, thumbnails have been captured at 80x60px
I also enjoyed this minimalist representation of the Simpson family in Lego: