(Make sure you read part one) It’s been over twenty years since I can remember the first time I saw Matt Groening’s “crudely drawn” family of five deal with the almost surreal problems that life seemingly presents on a daily basis. From that moment I laid my eyes on “The Simpsons” I became enamored and, eventually, a life-long fan (more than likely I’ll be re-watching episodes when I’m old enough to shout at clouds). During my time as a “Simpsons” viewer I’ve discovered many relatable life lessons that I plan to share with you. Welcome to “The Simpsons Life Lesson” series (season ten – part two).
Your Name Makes You No Better or Worst (Episode 13: “Homer to the Max”)
In a shocking turn of events, Homer Simpson became a television star during Fox network’s annual mid-season. Well, actually the Homer Simpson we had gotten to know, love and, by this point, start to hate (for being a genuine jerk) wasn’t shown on the television screen being watched by the Simpson family and almost everyone else in Springfield; but a stylish, Miami Vice-styled actor who happened to have the same name as Homer. With the people of Springfield too stupid to understand it was just a sheer coincidence, Homer became something of a local celebrity. Sadly for Homer, the character changed into a bumbling fool a week later featuring the catchphrase, “Uh-oh, Spaghetti-Os!” instead of the original character’s statement of, “And that’s the end of that chapter.”
Embarrassed about something that really had nothing to do with him, Homer opted to legally change his name to “Max Power” (the only name he spelled right on the list handed to the presiding judge). The phrase he got off of a hair dryer actually opened some impressively powerful doors for the former Simpson as he gained a shocking level of respect from his boss Mr. Burns, and befriended a man by the name of Trent Steel. Power’s “oldest and dearest friend” eventually invited Ho… er, Max and his family to a garden party that was attended by the likes of Woody Harrelson, Ed Begley, Jr. and even then-United States President Bill Clinton. But the party was nothing more than the first stop on a trip to save some redwood trees from being cut down en masse. Of course Max, still having the selfish, tree-hating mindset of Homer Simpson and bumbling actions of a numbskull, accomplished the work of several bulldozers by trying to run away from a mace swap after being forcibly chained to a tree. The end result was Homer being ostracized by the same people who thought he was something special due to his name.
Just because you change your name and people find you more dynamic because of it doesn’t make you any different from the person you were when you were simply “Homer Simpson”, “Handsome B. Wonderful” or even “Chesty La Rue”.
Money Can’t Buy You Love (Episode 21: “Monty Can’t Buy Me Love”)
It was a typically beautiful day in the town of Springfield when Marge Simpson convinced (or nagged; whatever works for you) her husband & children to take a long overdue family stroll through the neighborhood. Little did Marge know that on that very same day Springfield was welcoming the opening of a new mega store. Like Marge, local billionaire Monty Burns joined the festivities; walking into what he believed was his adoring public. But the Springfieldians weren’t cheering for Mr. Burns (or even saying “Boo-urns”). Instead, everyone’s eyes gazed upward to greet the owner of “Fortune Megastore”, Arthur Fortune. Winning over the crowd proved to be incredibly easy as Fortune tossed out money like it was going out of style – emphatically destroying the image of what a billionaire could and should be; an image greatly associated with Mr. Burns.
Realizing that he wouldn’t be universally loved in the same manner as Fortune if he continued to be the man he was, Mr. Burns hired the services of Homer Simpson to help him become the “people’s billionaire”. Unfortunately for Monty, Homer didn’t actually have good ideas when it came to winning people over; like throwing silver dollars from atop a small building, or being a guest on the Howard Stern-like show called “Jerry Rude and the Bathroom Bunch”. Eventually Mr. Burns realized that he’d need to complete one incredible, unbelievable act to gain the masses’ adulation – but capturing the legendary Loch Ness Monster. The quartet of Burns, Simpson, Professor Frink and Scotland’s own Groundskeeper Willie visited the site where the creature supposedly lived, drained the lake, destroyed Willie’s hometown, and actually completed his goal. But the end result was Mr. Burns having a near epileptic fit thanks to dozens of flashbulbs going off when people looked to photograph the beast. Mr. Burns crashing and destroying everything that was the set showcasing Nessy put Monty in the same position of societal degradation as he was in when the episode started.
While money can buy you adulation and the ability to make grown men swoon when someone says your name, it can’t buy love. But money can also buy you fear, some level of respect, and even a casino where you can employ a once-mythical creature to get coin-less bums away from your slot machines.
Power Can Corrupt Even the Smartest People (Episode 22: “They Saved Lisa’s Brain”)
Many times in the series’ history, Lisa Simpson found herself ostracized, unappreciated, and downright ridiculed for her high level of intelligence. Never before did Lisa feel like more of an outcast than the day Springfield held a contest that rewarded the most disgusting and dimwitted person with a fabulous prize to a trip Hartford, Connecticut. Lisa took to the town paper and wrote an article that caught the attention of Mensa’s Springfield chapter consisting of Principal Skinner, Professor Frink, Lindsay Naegle, Dr. Hibbert & Comic Book Guy. What was nothing more than a meeting of Springfield’s great minds eventually turned into an opportunity for the group to improve their hometown. Being stupid like so many other people in Springfield, Mayor Quimby hightailed it out of town when he believed they were about to confront him about his most recent acts of corruption. Thanks to the Springfield Charter, the mayor’s absence allowed the town would be governed by the smartest people Springfield had to offer.
This gave the “Bright Pack” a chance to actually change things for the better. As the day drew near for the group’s “State of the City” address, the intellectuals went out and starting vocalizing their personal agendas without any thought of how it would affect their overall goal. Things like banning all types of sports and limiting sexual reproduction to periods of seven years turned the town against the self-proclaimed “Council of Alphas” and allowed for everything to revert to normal without the mayor being exposed as a crook.
As seen time and time again in Springfield (and the world for that matter), absolute power can corrupt even the purest of intentions. Thankfully there are men such as Steven Hawking in the world ready to steal potential ideas like Homer’s belief that we exist in a donut-shaped universe to keep order in the figurative scales of justice.
Everything’s Coming up Milhouse (Episode 19: “Mom and Pop Art”)
If there was a more important life lesson to come from watching these ten seasons it’s that everything comes up Milhouse!