Remember when Matt Groening said Springfield on “The Simpsons” was named after Springfield, Ore., and even though he did not in any way say the fictional Springfield on the show was actually in Oregon, the entire Internet went very crazy acting like he had actually said that? Well, Groening and executive producer Al Jean clarified to TV Guide today that all he said was that Springfield was named after the town in Oregon, but the show itself does not take place in Oregon. In other words, he said his initial words were wildly misinterpreted. I’m sure this clarification will get just as much attention as the initial non-reveal did.
Matt Groening, creator of “The Simpsons,” was recently interviewed by Smithsonian (your one-stop shop for all “Simpsons”-related news, obviously). The interview produced the following exchange:
OK, why do the Simpsons live in a town called Springfield? Isn’t that a little generic?
Springfield was named after Springfield, Oregon. The only reason is that when I was a kid, the TV show “Father Knows Best” took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown. When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name. I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, “This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield.” And they do.
You’ve never said it was named after Springfield, Oregon, before, have you?
I don’t want to ruin it for people, you know? Whenever people say it’s Springfield, Ohio, or Springfield, Massachusetts, or Springfield, wherever, I always go, “Yup, that’s right.”
So just to be clear: Groening never specifically says “The Springfield we see on ‘The Simpsons’ is in Oregon.” He just says it was named after the Springfield in Oregon. I’m emphasizing this because the reactions I’ve seen online indicate that a lot of people think he actually said yep, the show is set in Oregon. Because he never actually said that. The A.V. Club seems to be one of the few places pointing out what Groening actually said, which is that the Springfield in Oregon is what inspired the name, rather than actually being the Springfield of the show.
Also, this isn’t exactly a huge shock. Not to be the crotchety old man who dismisses new and exciting information, but the show has long been filled with references to Oregon. That’s where Groening grew up. The show has also spent years making jokes about (a) Springfield’s mysterious home state and (b) the bevy of weird things all coexisting in Springfield that couldn’t actually coexist in any real city. (I mean, it’s a cartoon, so we all know it’s not a real city, but you know what I mean.)
So what do we know that we didn’t know last week? We know that Groening officially went on the record confirming that yes, the city of Springfield is in fact named after one specific Springfield. (And he also says he liked the name because it’s so common.) That’s nifty, if only because new information about “The Simpsons” after 12,000 episodes and about 27 seasons is rare. Let’s celebrate it! In fact, the best way to celebrate this is for all of us to go to Springfield, Ore., right now. We’ll tell them Matt Groening sent us.
Hey, “The Simpsons” won’t be unceremoniously canceled over a contract dispute! How nice for everyone involved. The cast is willing to take a pay cut, albeit a slimmer one than the network demanded, and won’t get any cut of the show’s back end profits, report Kim Masters and Alex Ben Block at the Hollywood Reporter. Yes, this means the network won, because a corporate behemoth which financially benefits no matter how the negotiations turn out always wins over a group of artists less likely to find similar remuneration elsewhere. The show has been renewed for another two seasons, which will see the series run at least 25 seasons.
Fact: “The Simpsons” is a beloved institution. Commonly accepted opinion often trotted out as fact due to obviousness (but not technically verifiable): “The Simpsons” is not nearly as good as it used to be. Fact: New episodes of “The Simpsons” are watched by far fewer people than watched older episodes.
People freaked out about this whole thing because (a) it meant “The Simpsons” would end, and even those of us who no longer watch new episodes still take comfort in the knowledge that new episodes are out there, (b) it meant “The Simpsons,” the greatest television show in history, would go off the air in an unfitting and sad fashion (rather than with a well-crafted, intentional series finale), (c) it reminded us that, ultimately, the art we consume (movies, television shows, etc.) are in fact just business properties and come down only to the financial facts (a fact we knew, but a fact that remains jarring and discomfiting when laid bare, particularly as it relates to a beloved show we like to think of as above all that), (d) it featured, essentially, a corporation threatening several employees with salary reductions or terminations despite years of faithful and productive service, which (even though this particular instance deals with huge amounts of money most of us could never dream about earning) still sticks in our collective cultural craw, and I mean, a company basically saying whether you take the cut or not, we’ll still make our money one way or the other, and that stings, right? and (e) that company, Fox, is part of News Corp., not exactly the most beloved organization insofar as multinationals go, but particularly scorned this year in the wake of the whole hacking scandal.
“The Simpsons” will eventually end. The show, and the actors, were spared the indignity of being shoved aside over a money issue. The facts of the matter remain undeniable: The show will end. It will end many years removed from its glorious prime. Whenever that happens, all of the people involved will walk away with plenty of money, while the network in particular will continue to rake in a lot of additional money. But at least there are another couple of seasons (at least) before we confront this reality again.
“The Simpsons,” the best television show in the history of the medium (obviously) and one of the crowning cultural achievements of the late 20th century (I’m going to go with obviously again), has long seemed like it would just keep producing new episodes forever and ever. But the latest contract dispute between the actors and Fox means that the 23rd season, which just started airing, might be the last one. Continue reading
In one of those happy little discoveries that makes me glad the Internet exists, it turns out those “McBain” movie clips shown on “The Simpsons” years and years ago actually tell a story. If watched in chronological order, they show an action film. Plot: “McBain hunts corrupt drug kingpin Senator Mendoza and tries to exact revenge for his murdered partner while battling red tape at police headquarters.” Amazing. Enjoy.
Following up on this, The Daily What also posted this animated GIF showing the folks who give voice to “The Simpsons” characters:
Like most people, I haven’t watched “The Simpsons” in about 12 years. I will still catch episodes in syndication and, very rarely, I will even catch snippets of new episodes. I happened to flip by “The Simpsons” last night as the show was starting, and decided to stick around to see the couch gag, having no idea that the artist Banksy had taken over the opening credits.
I was flabbergasted by the cleverness and darkness of what they showed, and I was pleased to see the show still had some creativity left. (Of course, the video started popping up like crazy in my RSS feeds and on Facebook, so even if I hadn’t happened to be watching, I’d have seen it anyway.)
Here’s the clip:
Former “Simpsons” showrunners Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein recently found a document on an old hard drive, loaded up with unused stories and premises. Some of what they found made it onto the show (“Homer gets Smithers’s job”), other stuff didn’t (“Sinkhole”), but it’s all a deeply interesting look at the creative process behind the show’s best years. [Splitsider]
Katy Perry, who has quite the nice singing career on the side of whatever her main profession is, will be on “The Simpsons” this year. It’ll be the holiday episode, she will appear as herself, the cartoon characters will appear as puppets and you can pretty much guarantee there will be cleavage involved. So, that’s happening. [The reason for this.]