Friday, January 15, 2010

Bigger Than Jesus

Friends, colleagues, and other acquaintances may be surprised to learn I have written practically nothing on The Simpsons. One does not have to know me for long to learn I'm one of THOSE geeks who has a vast array of quotes ready for any occasion, but, other than making a couple of minor edits to the Wikipedia entry, my contribution to online Simpsons communities has been nil. The recent 20th anniversary celebration, and a shout out on my favorite podcast, the Slate Culture Gabfest, have prodded me to action. Also, my friend Barry recently asked his Facebook community to list their all time favorite quotes from television, and I realized when considering his question that I would really have to do two lists. That is, I would need to make a separate, non-Simpsons list, because otherwise...

At any rate, "quotes" would end up being a slight misnomer, since most of these examples require at least a bit of context. There may be, in each, a perfect line, but the context is generally needed, to support the brilliance of the line. If I can find the clips, I will provide them. [Looks like I only found a couple of actual clips, so I will try to give some written context for the rest.]

So, in countdown form, these are some of my favorite moments, or quotes (not necessarily favorite episodes, although a couple of them are):

#6 - All in the Family Intro

#5 - "Just, just say 'slavery'" [3F20]

#4 - From "Homer and Apu" [1F10]

At an airport in India, several people departing a plane are (by appearance) Hare Krishnas. Some Western-looking people, dressed in suits, are singing at them, very Flanders-like, "If you're saved and you know it, clap your hands!"

Hare Krishna traveler [annoyed, rolling eyes]: Oh, great, Christians.

#3 - From "The Bart of War" [EABF16]

Bart and Milhouse have discovered (and damaged) a vast cache of Beatles memorabilia in the Flanders basement. Homer arrives.

Homer: Gee Ned, I had no idea you were such a Beatles fan.
Ned: They were bigger than Jesus!

#2 - From "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish" [7F01]

Burns has just lost the election, after being served the three-eyed fish.

Burns: Ironic isn't it, Smithers? This anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes has cost me the election, yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail! That's democracy for you.

#1 - Sacrilicious

A couple of quick observations. Yes, there does appear to be a religious, or even Christian, theme, to my favorite quotable moments. I think it may have to do with the fundamental spirit of irreverence, of truly holding nothing sacred.

And while I honestly cannot choose a favorite episode, two referenced above are among the greatest: "Two Cars in Every Garage, and Three Eyes on Every Fish" and "Much Apu About Nothing." Here too, I notice a theme of sorts--both episodes are sharp, cynical, political satire. Combined with the aforementioned irreverence, yet also ultimately with a deep, abiding love for America, in all its flawed excess, these episodes capture the show at its greatest. In particular, I still find the opening segment of "Much Apu About Nothing" to be the most brilliant piece of American political satire I have yet seen. (Starting with a bear wandering into Springfield, and closing with Quimby blaming illegal immigrants.) And this I say with all due respect to SNL, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, the Smothers Brothers, et al. If you haven't seen it in a while, it is very much worth it.


Blogger Marsosudiro said...

The Slavery link at Hulu is not functioning correctly, so here's the quote:

Proctor: All right, here’s your last question. What was the cause of the Civil War?
Apu: Actually, there were numerous causes. Aside from the obvious schism between the abolitionists and the anti-abolitionists, there were economic factors, both domestic and inter–
Proctor: Wait, wait… just say slavery.
Apu: Slavery it is, sir.

I found the quote as part of a cool essay on Apu.

January 16, 2010 8:47 AM  
Blogger wRONgainey said...

Thanks Phil! It is working again at this moment, but it never hurts to have redundancy.

January 16, 2010 7:56 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home