Australia could be soon getting a new currency, if Simpsons fans around the world get their way, after a petition suggesting the nation switch from boring old Australian dollars to the much more hilarious currency of “Dollarydoos” caught the imagination of internet users this week. A nod to a subtle gag in classic sixth season episode Bart vs Australia, the petition has already amassed more than 59,000 signatures. Are you listening Mr. Prime Minister? …Mr Prime Minister? …ANDY!?
It’s not the first time the cartoon’s influence has spilled out into the real world, of course…
Coining new words
There are certain words and phrases The Simpsons have made commonplace: ‘d’oh!’ is now an internationally recognisable byword for shit luck, while ‘¡Ay, caramba!’ is now also something of a household phrase. It doesn’t stop there, though. The 1996 episode Lisa the Iconoclast – you know the one, where it’s revealed that beloved town founder Jebediah Springfield was in fact murderous pirate Hans Sprungfeld – featured two neologisms. When teacher Edna Krapabbel notes that Jebediah’s famous slogan – “A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man” – rings false because “embiggen” is not a real word, Ms. Hoover corrects her: “I don’t know why. It’s a perfectly cromulent word.” ‘Embiggens’ has since become a popular word on forums, while ‘cromulent’ sneaked its way into Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary of English in 2005. Impressive.
In the 2001 episode Hungry, Hungry Homer, Homer thwarts his local Springfield Isotopes baseball team’s secret plan to move to Albuquerque by going on hunger strike. Subsequently, when The Albuquerque Tribune asked its online readers to help choose a new name for their city’s baseball team, “Isotopes” received a whopping 67% of the 120,000 votes cast. In the three months after the team’s new name was announced in September 2002 – and before they had even played a game – they had sold more merchandise than the Albuquerque Dukes – their former name – had sold in any single season.
The theft of a lemon tree
In the 1995 episode Lemon of Troy, Springfieldians, led first by Bart and then by Homer, set out to neighbouring town Shelbyville in order to retrieve Springfield’s historical lemon tree after it is stolen by kids from the rival town. This episode later played out in real life 18 years later in Houston, Texas, when a woman had her lemon tree mysteriously stolen in broad daylight from her front garden. Kae Bruney – who had been attending her son’s middle school graduation at the time of the crime – tried to laugh off the incident in an interview with local news station KHOU, but went a little bit further than simply labelling the thief a “garbageman”: “I hope you find yourself stricken with dysentery on a long drive in the middle of nowhere. If you needed my lemons so bad, I hope they serve you well.” Ouch.
1990 classic Bart the Genius famously saw Bart try to cheat at Scrabble by spelling out “kwyjibo” on the board. When asked what it is, he says that it is a “big, dumb, balding North American ape … with no chin”– a thinly veiled description of Homer. Bart would have been able to use the word (worth a whopping 152 points in regular Scrabble) if the family had been playing The Simpsons Scrabble edition, which was put on sale in 2002. A 2014 Hasbro competition to add a new word to the ‘Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online Official Scrabble Players Dictionary’ was inundated with nominations for ‘Kwyjibo’, but it wasn’t even considered in the final running by the game’s manufacturers. Spoilsports.
The word was also used as one of the aliases for the Melissa mass-mailing computer virus that wreaked havoc for some Windows users in 1999, which couldn’t have been a wild coincidence… could it?
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Inspiring a debate with The First Lady
After Barbara Bush, wife of the 41st President of the U.S. George, criticised the show in an interview with People magazine in 1990 (saying that the show was “the dumbest thing I’d ever seen”), she received a response from the writers, signed from “Marge”:
“Ma’am, if we’re the dumbest thing you ever saw, Washington must be a good deal different than what they teach me at the current events group at the church.”
Bush later apologised in an open letter, asking for forgiveness for “a loose tongue.” The feud with the Bushes would re-open two years later, however, after the one-term President remarked that: “We’re going to make the American family more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons.” Many have marked this observation as the inspiration for the episode Two Bad Neighbours which lampooned President Bush as Homer’s enemy.