MY TWO CENTS

An image of a Simpsons NFT next to Bill Cipher and Lisa planting a tree.

In honor of Disney+ Day on November 12, the NFT collectible platform VeVe has announced an NFT collection featuring golden digital statues “inspired by” Disney properties. The first two, featuring Homer and Bart choking each other and Bart’s skateboard, will drop tomorrow.

My limited understanding is that NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are digital artworks that people spend lots of cryptocurrency (pretend computer money) on just so it says on a website somewhere that they are the “owner” of said artwork. Of course, since they’re digital artwork, anyone can just right click and save them, which to a normal person would make “ownership” seem pointless and the whole enterprise seem scammy. They also have the added bonus of being incredibly harmful to the environment. “Hey, don’t have a cow, man, these ones are actually carbon neutral!,” you might say. First, that’s greenwashing. Second, most NFTs look like absolute shit. A massive corporation like Disney getting involved with their giant portfolio of iconic characters helps legitimize the entire cryptoart marketplace.

Are these NFT statues the most immoral pieces of Simpsons merchandise to exist? Probably not. Nevertheless, The Simpsons has been awarded 9 Environmental Media Awards over the years. They should return them if they’re going to choke the planet with this garbage.

MEANINGLESS MILESTONES, SPRINGFIELD SHOPPER

An image of the Simpsons Season 1 DVD cover.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of The Simpsons: The Complete First Season DVD boxset in North America (tip of the hat to illustrator Bill Mudron for mentioning this). It was, for a time, the best selling TV show on DVD until it was eclipsed by Chappelle’s Show a few years later. Now that physical media has been rendered a relic by streaming services, let’s take this opportunity to look back at what’s been lost.
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NEWS BRIEFS

An image of Mrs. Krabappel reading a book while a fucked-up Bart-like creature writes on the chalkboard. Also, there is a Smarch calendar.

  • Simpsons writer Marc Wilmore, whose credits also include In Loving Color, The PJs, and F is for Family, passed away from COVID-19 complications at the age of 57. Before joining the show, he participated in a prank on a writer where he pretended to be an irate mayor. [New York Times]
  • The late Marcia Wallace will be making a posthumous g-g-guest appearance in an upcoming episode where Bart finds Mrs. Krabappel’s diary. [TheFutonCritic.com]
  • What’s going on with Bongo Comics, Matt Groening’s all-but-defunct comic book publishing company, and what does it mean for Simpsons Fun Calendars? The situation is unclear, but the hosts of the podcast Talking Simpsons tried to make sense of it. I remember one year (2001) they included a page for Smarch, and it’s those little touches that set them apart from other calendars. [Talking Simpsons (25:52)]
  • Former Instagram tech nerd Thomas Dimson used AI to create a horrible nightmare Simpsons character generator. [This Fucked Up Homer Does Not Exist via Adam B.]
SPRINGFIELD SHOPPER

simpsons x hello kittyIn news sure to excite lovers of brands, The Simpsons Brand Entertainment Franchise is joining forces with Sanrio’s Hello Kitty, a Japanese anime cat who exists mostly as merchandise, which seems fitting. As the press release states, this HISTORIC collaboration is to “celebrate” two meaningless milestones:

Announced today, the two iconic pop culture brands are partnering to introduce a product line in 2014 in celebration of two milestone anniversaries: the 40th Anniversary of Hello Kitty and 25th Anniversary of THE SIMPSONS.

As a reminder, The Simpsons once insinuated Hello Kitty products were made from actual cats.

Apparently Sanrio will be making “supercute” versions of the Simpsons that will delight “fans of every age” to be sold alongside its other flagship characters Hello Kitty, Dear Daniel, Badtz-Maru, Chococat, and Mutated Panda.

Frankly, I’m disappointed The Simpsons didn’t go with Lisa Frank. Maybe for the 30th anniversary?

[Fort Mill Times]

COMING ATTRACTIONS

simpsons legoland2014 is shaping up to be a banner year for The Simpsons, with not one but two crossovers, and now a spin-off!

*whatever the digitial media equivalent of a record scratch sounds like*

Well, sorta. Last month, it was announced LEGO was coming out with a line of Simpsons-themed LEGO Group Companies brand colored toy brick plaything objects†. Now, more details are coming out, and according to Nerdly, there will be a TV special:

On top of that, this new LEGO range will also be supported by a special Simpsons LEGO TV episode (much like the LEGO Star Wars specials) in May 2014!

So, a TV special, and that’s all we know so far. Maybe a series of specials if it’s successful…? This seems like a different animal from previous Simpsons specials like the Springfield’s Most Wanted thing (which was just a tie-in to “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”) and The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special – In 3-D! On Ice! in that it will presumably have an actual story. Since we don’t know if The Simpsons has been renewed yet (we should find out by November), this would be a weird, unexpected way to keep the franchise alive post-cancellation.

Also, no word yet on which Simpsons voice actors have agreed to do this (I’ll bet a zillion bitcoins Harry Shearer won’t participate). It seems a given that current Simpsons writer Michael Price, who’s written the Star Wars LEGO specials and tweets about them a lot, will participate.

There’s also no word what channel it will be on. I’m pretty sure Cartoon Network has aired all the Star Wars things, and its corporate sibling Warner Bros. is coming out with a (The) LEGO movie earlier that year, so that seems like a safe bet. Maybe FOX, since it’s their franchise, but would they really air a commercial for a children’s toy masquerading as a TV show during their Crude & Rude Toons With ‘Tude programming block?

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BART ART, SPRINGFIELD SHOPPER

Possible Banksy? Last season there was a Simpsons episode where Bart becomes a street artist with the help of special guest star Shephard Fairey, because it’s impossible for a Simpson to develop a new skill without meeting the most famous people associated with that skill. Fairey’s perhaps best known nowadays for making that weird Soviet propaganda-ish Barack Obama “Hope” poster in 2008, but back in “the day” his claim to fame was the OBEY Giant campaign where he’d plaster stickers or spraypaint images of deceased wrestler Andre the Giant (later redesigned to avoid copyright infringement) everywhere – without permission! – with the word “OBEY” under it, which may have provided the inspiration for such cultural touchstones as internet memes and Microsoft advertising. For the episode, The Simpsons cleverly “mashed up” Fairey’s two pieces into a “parody” (using the term very lightly) featuring Homer’s face and the word “Dope.”

Anyway, the Associated Press sued him over the “Hope” poster (apparently they own the rights to Obama’s likeness??) and won. Last September a federal court sentenced him to two years’ probation and fined him $25,000. Now where’s an avant-garde street artist supposed to get scratch like that??

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SPRINGFIELD SHOPPER

homer simpson is the face of slaveryHey, uh, do you own that pair of slippers that look like Homer’s face? Are you perhaps wearing them right now?? Well, you’ll no doubt be thrilled to learn they were produced with state-sponsored Chinese slave labor.

Al-Jazeera has a 30-minute documentary on their site (use YouTube if it’s not loading) that uncovers how China throws political and religious dissidents into prison camps and forces them to manufacture consumer goods. It specifically highlights these Homer slippers, which were manufactured in Nanjing Prison near Shanghai for the New Jersey company SG Footwear. The company claimed (via Fox for some inexplicable reason) “it has never knowingly utilized involuntary labor.” Ha ha not only do they not deny it but they made their comment through a second company. Anyway, just something to think about next time your browsing the novelty slipper aisle at your local shoe store.

[Al Jazeera via Tumblr]

GROEN DRAIN, SPRINGFIELD SHOPPER

matt groening dollSimpson creator Matt Groening went to Egypt to check out the pyramid and he foolishly ignored all the hieroglyphic warnings and trespassed into the forbidden zone when all of a sudden The Mummy appeared and cast a big curse on him. As karmic retribution for all his brazen merchandising and capitalist crimes, Mr. Groening was turned into a piece of merchandise himself, how ironic. Now he is no longer human, he is just a doll and can’t do human things anymore, rip.

OK but seriously now, for just fifty American dollars you can buy a toy version of the guy whose signature appears on all your other Simpsons toys. Here’s what the solicitation says:

Created by legendary “Life is Hell” cartoonist Matt Groening, THE SIMPSONS is celebrating its 500th episode in February 2012, and Kidrobot is honoring the father of primetime animation in the only way we know how – making him into a 6-inch vinyl toy! Complete with goatee and glasses, director’s jacket, and pad and pencil accessories, it is the first EVER Simpsons Matt Groening toy.

Essentially, if you cut out the middlemen, you can pay a guy money and he will give you a doll version of himself. This is so weird and messed up that I needed to lie down to fully contemplate the many levels of Meta this object encapsulates.

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GROEN DRAIN

life in hell shirt
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 Little 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]

NEWS CORP. NEWS

homer screamShocking news from AOL’s DailyFinance… terrorists are infiltrating beloved national conglomerates and using them to fund terrorists… even News Corp., parent company of Fox News and The Simpsons has fallen prey to their wily schemes… it’s too late to stop it… they’re already here…

For example, News Corp.’s second-largest shareholder, after the Murdoch family, is Prince Alwaleed bin Talal (pictured at left, and above right), the nephew of Saudi Arabian King Abdullah, and one of the world’s richest men.

Through his Kingdom Holding Co., Alwaleed owns about 7% of News Corp., or about $3 billion of the media giant.

Saudi Arabia, which is ruled by Alwaleed’s uncle King Abdullah, is, of course, an authoritarian petro-monarchy that actually is governed by Sharia law and is known as one of the top global sponsors of terrorism. A spokesperson for the Saudi embassy in Washington says that while Alwaleed is part of the royal family, he isn’t a member of the government, but rather a private citizen.

Could this so-called media mogul be lining his coffers with the profits from Simpsons merchandise, and then giving that money to his terrorist pals??? It’s not unpossible and we can’t take any chances.

It’s time to strike back. Nielsen families, stop watching The Simpsons. Internet video-watchers, stop watching The Simpsons on Hulu. Stop purchasing products advertised during The Simpsons. Next time you’re at the store, walk right past the aisle filled with Krusty alarm clocks and Maggie plush dolls, don’t even look at the Simpsons fruit snacks: they’re not worth the risk. No more Homer t-shirts, no more Simpsons DVDs, no more Milhouse asthma inhalers. Do your patriotic duty: buy bootleg Black Bart Simpson t-shirts at swap meets. We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day! [DailyFinance via AlterNet]