496. Politically Inept with Homer Simpson

Original airdate: January 8, 2012

The premise:
A viral video of Homer going nuts about mistreatment on an airplane gets him his own political talk show, where he blusters on about traditional values and small town American rights. His nonsensical, ill-informed rhetoric becomes so influential that he gets tapped to pick the Republican presidential nominee, famous rocker and insane person Ted Nugent.

The reaction: Boy, this is a real time capsule of an episode. Sort of. Some elements of it still feel depressingly relevant in our current dumpster fire of a political climate, but boy oh boy, Homer as Glenn Beck? Once again, despite Krusty’s cries two episodes ago about looking dated and hacky, the show doesn’t seem to care. And also once again, South Park beat them to the punch by two years. But let’s look into this a bit more. That episode featured Cartman becoming the new morning announcer at the school, and abusing his power by attacking the student body president because he doesn’t like her personally. He became a Glenn Beck expy, but all in a way that was in line with his character; Cartman loves attention and relishes being in a position of power, and he’s also a huge asshole. So what do we have from The Simpsons? Well, Homer goes nuts on an airplane, grabbing the intercom and spouting some nonsense about customer’s rights. He then goes on a cable news show and shouts that he speaks for the honest Joe American, which then leads to him getting his own show, where he becomes Glenn Beck Lite. Why is he doing this? He’s talking out his ass extolling good ol’ boy American values, but as Castellaneta marries his Homer voice with a Beck impression, I just don’t understand what Homer’s point is or his goal. Through the episode, he flip flops between his original impassioned airplane speech, then claiming he’s just playing a character, to an advocate for the little guy, to actually wanting to implement change, and the ending involves him not able to buy into his own bullshit anymore and giving up his fame. So much of this episode is nonsensical and unfunny, but the core of it absolutely does not work when I can’t figure out the main character’s motivation throughout the entire episode. They wanted to do a Glenn Beck parody, and they squeezed Homer into that box so they could do it. So topical. Except not.

Three items of note:
– The opening at the airport feels even more dated than the Glenn Beck plot line. Making fun of TSA regulations and security checks in 2012?
– The whole gravy boat thing I guess is referencing the Tea Party? Except the show doesn’t do anything with that. The show had some juicy material at their disposal lampooning that movement, or just the idea of a TV loudmouth holding that much influence and using it irresponsibly, but they reduce it to just one line that Lisa says to push the plot forward. The gravy movement thing is pretty much squandered, with screen time instead used for some elaborate fake dream to sway Homer back to reality. Bleh.
– I feel pretty stymied by this episode, it’s hard to come up with what to talk about. When we get to the point where Ted Nugent seems to be living at the Simpson house for some reason, I just don’t even know where to begin. Why is he here? What’s he promoting? He shoots an arrow into Flanders’ forehead, and then later shoots a bunch of kids into the air from his bow, and nobody bats an eye. I guess he’s just craaaaaayyy-zeeeeee so it’s fine? I dunno. This one was just really fucking confusing.

One good line/moment: Oh, I don’t know… Brockman’s headline for the gravy moment “Au Jus-tice For All!” was cute. …that’s all I got.

13 thoughts on “496. Politically Inept with Homer Simpson

  1. There were a few scenes that got a chuckle outta me:
    -Homer’s mask (just a Shrek one painted yellow)
    -When Ted finds out Lisa’s a vegetarian (“That’s OK, she can just munch on an antler. That ain’t meat!”)
    And some that were just bad:
    -The fact that Bart tags the vid as “Classic Simpsons”- like, they KNOW it’s not good now
    -When Lisa talks about how symbols rile people up (“the Swastika, the New York Yankees logo”)

  2. Yeah, this episode sticks out in a pretty bad way because it instantly dates itself. I mean, some of the things here mirror what’s going on in the country now, but it’s not like anyone could have seen this coming. The show is actually lucky that all this ended up happening in some bizarre way because this episode was made for a very specific time so the replay value isn’t really high at all.

    Also, Bart and Lisa are both fans of Ted Nugent’s music? I mean, I guess Lisa would know who he is due to his political views but Bart? And I honestly don’t get why anyone would listen to Homer at all. He’s just an insane man saying crazy things that he doesn’t even believe himself, and he’s apparently trusted enough to have his own TV show and endorse the next Republican presidential candidate? That’s too big of a stretch.

  3. Okay, I have to speak up in defense of this episode. Not because it’s a good episode, but more with what you said.

    I personally couldn’t care less what South Park covered nor when they covered something. South Park is not The Simpsons. The Simpsons is not South Park. Both are free to cover the same content and cover whenever they so choose to do so. If I cared what South Park did, I would watch South Park.

    Now with that said, I also don’t see how this episode is any more or less dated than any other episode. Every episode has a joke in them that dates them whether intentional or not. Why was it okay with the good seasons of the show (1-9ish) but it’s an issue with the not so good ones? Shouldn’t it be held up to the same standard regardless of what season it is?

    Now with that said, I don’t remember much about this episode other than Homer’s rants, so it’s biggest crime is that it was just plain forgettable rather than making outdated jokes.

  4. Being English I have no idea who Glenn Beck? is or what this was parodying, other than some of those loud American talk debates where everyone yells slogans that make no sense.

    I’m no fan of the American republican party, much less now I’m married to an American who doesn’t care for them either, but really aren’t there better ways to write satire than by just pretending people are utterly nonsensical?

    This hole story felt like a kid on the playground parodying someone by making incoherent noises because they can’t actually argue in the “Yeah, but bleh bleh bleh bleh?”

    Sort of way.

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