Disenchantment creator Matt Groening appears to have quietly launched a YouTube channel last night. Currrently its sole video is “Trumpy’s Rhapsody,” a short cartoon directed by Dwayne Carey-Hill featuring Donald Trump singing a song, with the lyrics credited to Groening and Dan Castellaneta (TV’s Homer Simpson) providing the voice.
This raises some questions:
Why now? For someone who’s arguably the most famous cartoonist of the era, it’s remarkable that Matt Groening has maintained almost zero internet presence. His personal website was supposedly “under construction” for years (the domain name appears to have lapsed) and outside of the rare promotional Q&A, he’s had no official social media account or means of communicating directly to fans. Which is fine, because it’s always disappointing when you follow someone and discover they have a weird axe to grind against Cuba or whatever, and it’s also really funny to me when people – sometimes people he works with – unknowingly tag phony accounts.
What the hell did I just watch? This Trump Jib-Jab thing with Putin jokes is, uh, not my cup of tea, to put it politely. Groening is a rich, aging baby boomer Democrat (albeit one who donated to orb queen Marianne Williamson during the primaries) who works in the entertainment industry, which partially explains why he’s succumbed to Trump derangement syndrome like the rest of his peers. But I still can’t quite wrap my head around a line like “Sorry I ruined the Republican party!” coming from the same guy who drew this.
Why do it independently? The Simpsons has been putting out godawful Trump shorts since he announced his candidacy. Why Groening chose not to use the existing Simpsons infrastructure is a real head-scratcher. Was it somehow considered too edgy???
What’s next? Was this a one time thing? Could this be the start of his own version of Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy? Who knows!
[Matt Groening on YouTube via Bob Mackey]
Pistol Pete, a 1996 pilot for a Western spoof written and produced by legendary Simpsons writer John Swartzwelder, has surfaced for the first time thanks to a mysterious benefactor on YouTube:
The show centers around Pistol Pete, a fake cowboy starring in a New York City Wild West stage show who becomes the real sheriff of a Western town, played by the impeccable Stephen Kearney. It’s kinda like the Adam West Batman series set in the West with absurd Swartzweldian gags.
Like its mysterious creator, Pistol Pete gained some notoriety because pretty much nobody outside the people who produced it had ever seen it. Will Harris of Antenna Free TV wrote a comprehensive account – or at least as comprehensive as you can be about something you’ve never seen – about it last year, scoring interviews with Kearney and co-star Mark Derwin. Apparently, Swartzwelder was in such high demand that the studio pretty much gave him whatever he wanted. Unfortunately, the Fox network declined to pick it up as a series, possibly because Rupert Murdoch was feeling sleepy when the executives screened it.
Upon discovery (…?) of the video, Swartzwelder e-mailed it to Harris, who then tweeted it to the world. Now, perhaps the only big Simpsons writer “holy grail” that remains is George Meyer’s script for an unproduced movie that was to star David Letterman.
[YouTube via Twitter]
I don’t want to oversell this, but I’ve seen a lot of weird Simpsons videos, and this Armenian parody is one of my favorites. It starts out with four lads morphing into the Simpsons singing “Yesterday” in Armenian atop Stonehenge and gets stranger from there.
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Oprah Winfrey ended her show today, y’all! Back in 1992, she interviewed the Simpsons in a dopey 2-minute animated segment. Later, she refused to grant Fox the rights to include it on a Simpsons DVD, preferring to throw it down the memory hole. Luckily, someone taped it and uploaded it to YouTube:
First, some background: in fall 1990, Fox moved The Simpsons to Thursday nights in a heavily publicized move to compete head-on with The Cosby Show, which was then the reigning television champion. Eventually, The Simpsons managed to overtake Cosby in the ratings, and in June 1991, Bill Cosby announced the following season would be the show’s last. The final episode of The Cosby Show aired on April 30th, 1992. The Simpsons paid its respects with a hastily-assembled homage added to that night’s episode, a rerun of “Three Men and a Comic Book,” with Bart issuing an awfully prescient warning for viewers. It only aired that one time and was thought by many to be lost to the sands of time. Luckily, anything that has ever aired on television in the past fifty years will eventually resurface on YouTube:
Yes, Golden Age Simpsons managed to burn the current incarnation of the show from years in the past. The ownage levels are off the charts. [YouTube via No Homers Club]
Earlier this year, some radio show noticed that singer-songwriter Usher’s chart-topping hit song “OMG” sounds remarkably like a song Homer Simpson tried to compose in the particularly awful 2003 episode “Dude, Where’s My Ranch?” Judge for yourself:
I don’t believe Mr. Usher intentionally committed songtheft. Like most of us who watched that episode, he must have tried to block it from his mind, but no matter how hard we try to repress our memories of Current Simpsons, bits and pieces still manage to escape. Try as I might, I can’t forget about Sideshow Bob Jr., or that Snowball II is actually Snowball V now, or the time Homer was Kurt Cobain for some reason. In Usher’s case, that little ditty somehow seeped through his mental blockade, years later and drained of its context, and because of cryptomnesia, he thought he’d come up with the tune himself and then proceeded to turn it into a hit single.
Unfortunately for him, this is not the first time he has been accused of plagiarizing a non-human. Last year, a devastating expose revealed he had stolen the opening of “Papers” from a goat. [YouTube via @ShawnElliot]
If you were one of the people watching The Simpsons last night (sucker), you may have noticed something a little different about the opening sequence!
The “couch gag,” if one could call it that, was storyboarded and directed by the pseudonymous Britain street artist known as Banksy, whose distinctive graffiti has shown up across the UK and the US, and whose work has been auctioned off for millions of dollars to limousine liberal luminaries like Brangelina.
Showrunner-for-life Al Jean told the New York Times he seeked out the ostensibly underground (despite having a publicist) “art terrorist” and asked him, via a series of messengers, if he’d do the opening, later receiving the storyboards without ever meeting the mystery man. Although 5% was cut out by request of Fox Broadcast & Standards, Jean insists the final product was as close as possible to Banksy’s original intention.
The response has been enormous – Banksy became a “Trending Topic” on Twitter last night (which is, like, super-important and stuff) and there are currently hundreds of news stories about it – which I’m sure makes up for the 29% decline in ratings from last week. It’s to quantify these things, but I think it’s safe to presume this will get more attention than other recent Simpsons “viral” stunts, from the godawful Ke$ha thing to the Itchy & Scratchy parody of Koyaanisqatsi (in the old days, The Simpsons usually generated buzz with actual episodes instead of context-free YouTube clips, but I guess that’s the way things are now in the New Media Landscape).
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