Last week’s Simpsons episode featured a Fox News helicopter adorned with the slogan “Not racist, but #1 with racists.” Everybody liked this joke so dang much, especially smug schmucks who proudly buy coffee mugs that say “FAUX NEWS” on them, so The Simpsons just had to do it again this week. If you haven’t seen the show after they went high-def, they now have a “cloud gag” where something WACKY flies by show’s title, destroying Matt Groening’s original intention of it being a transition from the real world to the Simpsons’ world. This time, another Fox News helicopter flew by, with the slogan “Unsuitable for Viewers Under 75.”
But if you’re too cool to watch TV shows on TV at their correct bat-time, and opted instead to watch it Monday morning on Hulu (which is directly helping keep the show on the air, so knock it off), you didn’t get to see this ever-so-precious sight gag; instead you got Homer as King Kong (one of those depressing “hey guys, remember this thing from back when we were funny?” callback gags for the “old school” fans).
Blogs like Mediaite and Think Progress were immediately suspicious: did Fox News, which according to the liberal hivemind is responsible for Everything Bad In The World, exert their vast influence within News Corporation to force their corporate cousins The Simpsons and Hulu censor a mildly critical jape at their expense??? Is Fox News leading an assault on comedy??? Is Bill O’Reilly going to tear out Doonesbury from everybody’s newspaper???
No, says The New York Times‘ ArtsBeat blog, which actually bothers to ask the show’s producers about these things:
The “Simpsons” producers could not let that remark stand, so they rushed their second Fox News joke into Sunday’s episode — so late in the production process that the gag could only be inserted into the version shown in North America, but not into versions shown in foreign markets or on the Internet.
I remember feeling super-special when I watched “Trilogy of Error” for the first time and noticed that the closed captioning was occasionally different from the spoken dialogue, because they had changed jokes at the last minute, after the episode had already been sent to closed-captioning factory (or whatever, I don’t know it works). I was getting bonus jokes! This silly non-conspiracy is just the same thing, just on a larger scale. So while it’s tempting to believe Fox News, the Koch brothers, and Satan are all cruising around in a Halliburton blimp, snatching up people in their tractor beams and throwing them down the memory hole because they criticized Sarah Palin’s choice of eyewear on their Tumblr, it’s important to remember The Simpsons hasn’t been controversial in about a decade. [ArtsBeat]