Why is our generation refusing to let go of The Simpsons?

When I was about 10 years old, my favourite thing to do on this earth was to eat a microwaved pizza cut into rectangular slices with ketchup and watch an old VHS tape of The Simpsons. Their neon-dipped universe was comforting and hilarious, and even though this video only had the same four grainy episodes, which I played over and over again, it never bored me. Even the familiar theme tune filled me with an easy happiness, like climbing into a freshly laundered bed, or taking a bite of perfectly buttered cheap white toast.

This is not an interesting or remarkable memory. In fact, I would guess that most people who grew up in the ’90s and ’00s have a similar one. The Simpsons, like Friends, and to a lesser degree like Sex and the City, has been a ubiquitous cultural force for two, maybe three generations. Those who remember a time when British TVs had five channels, when The Simpsons played at 6pm every day just before Hollyoaks, will probably see the American cartoon as a near-constant backdrop to their upbringing. Because even if you didn’t watch The Simpsons yourself, their merchandise, their catchphrases, their games, their egg yolk-yellow faces, were everywhere. It was hard to go to a friend’s house without seeing Homer bark “D’oh!” out the corner of your eye on someone’s blaring TV screen.

In recent years, though, The Simpsons hasn’t felt culturally pervasive in quite the same way. Viewers have complained that the animation has lost its charm since the ’90s, relying on topical one-liners and excessive adventures rather than the creative absurdity it was loved for in earlier years. As well as that, young people aren’t really watching traditional TV anyway, so there isn’t that same endless familiarity that comes with consistently consuming one specific show.

That said, The Simpsons is far from dead. It is, in fact, very much alive and well on the internet, just perhaps not in the form it was originally intended. Today, the classic cartoon lives on via sad, relatable memes, surreal Instagram accounts, strange visual collages on YouTube and Tumblrs that post an endless conveyor belt of scene stills.

Screen Shot 2018-02-13 at 10.33.34

Scenic Simpsons, an Instagram account that currently has around 302k followers, is one of the most remarkable of these current day appreciations. Spliced together by an anonymous curator, the account posts abstract and beautiful stills from the cartoon, each without characters or context, and each depicting an illustrious landscape, a close-up of house interiors or an abstract snapshot in time. They’re colourful, intriguing and very addictive. “All the posts come from series one – 10, which is generally known to real nerds as The Simpsons’ golden era,” the creator has said in an interview. “They changed the animation style up after that and it just doesn’t have the same quality or colouring.”

After the success of Scenic Simpsons, other, similar accounts starting popping up, such as Springfield Cuisine and Simpsons Library, each with their own aesthetic focus. It feels weird – appreciating The Simpsons for the way a cartoon moon hangs in a cartoon purple night sky, or how Marge looks beside eggnog, rather than its plot or jokes – but for a generation raised on the thing, it’s like peering even closer, from an entirely different angle, through fresh eyes.

This isn’t the only way The Simpsons is being channelled online in new, abstract ways. Simpsonwave, a subgenre of music (and I use that term in the loosest possible sense) has been around since the mid-2010s, and essentially constitutes a selection of heavily edited, purple-filtered Simpsons scenes on YouTube with a Vaporwave soundtrack. The result is like smoking a joint and diving into a swimming pool with The Simpsons projected onto the floor. It’s ridiculous, sure, but it’s also yet another example of how this deeply familiar cartoon has been pushed through so many layers of nostalgia, irony and refreshed appreciation that it’s become more than a cartoon; it’s an entity, an institution.

Lucien Hughes, the guy who has been credited with Simpsonwave, agrees that Simpsons nostalgia is pervasive and important for a certain generation. “The Simpsons is pretty unique in that it’s something that almost everyone born between the late ’80s and early ’00s grew up watching,” he explained in an interview with Pitchfork. “Vaporwave is very much about creating an atmosphere of nostalgia, so I feel The Simpsons just perfectly fits the whole aesthetic.”

But really, The Simpsons has seeped into our visual and cultural lexicon in more general, overarching ways than these very specific instances that I’ve just mentioned. There isn’t a day that goes by in which I don’t see someone post a still of a Simpson on Instagram under the caption “mood” or see yet another relatable meme account dedicated to the cartoon (Sad Simpsons Memes is my personal fave) or read people discussing how Lisa Simpson holds a special relationship with ambitious women worldwide or, as in a recent documentary called The Problem With Apu, how the cartoon has often missed the mark when it comes to inclusivity and wokeness.

There are so many Simpsons references scattered across the internet, in fact, that it often feels like a common visual language rather than a niche trend. It’s been over 30 years since their first ever episode aired on December 17 1989, and maybe 10 years since a lot of people stopped watching, but The Simpsons has shaped its viewers in ways that are so deeply ingrained, so completely comprehensive, so absolute yet so subtle, that it’s hard to articulate its influence in a way that gives it justice. We are, it seems, a generation who will simply never let go.

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The post Why is our generation refusing to let go of The Simpsons? appeared first on Huck Magazine.


Celebrate Twin Peaks’ Return with a David Lynch Tribute Art Show

With a new season of Twin Peaks just around the corner, the SPOKE Art Gallery is throwing an art tribute show dedicated to legendary director David Lynch. In Dreams will feature over 80 participating artists from around the world, each exploring Lynch’s impact as a storyteller through a range of mediums including painting, sculpture, and fine art prints. Each artist was allowed to choose which subject of Lynch’s work they wanted to focus on, and the results, from unique character portraits to detailed environments and abstracted movie posters, dig deep into the emotions embedded in Lynch’s work and the stylistic choices he made to convey them.


In addition to the art show, SPOKE NYC partnered with Tribeca’s Roxy Cinema for their special month-long Lynch takeover. They’ll play host to events like May 1st’s midnight screening of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. The exhibition will also include commemorative Twin Peaks postcards, stickers, and a custom-made photo booth of the famous Black Lodge Room. 

Check out some works featured in the show below:

Allison Reimold

Caroline Caldwell

Vanessa Foley

Matt Chase

George Townley

Harry Michalakeas

Justin Hager

Nick Stokes

Vic De Leon

Guillaume Morellec

Sarah Joncas

Learn more about the event on Facebook.


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Rick and Morty’s Surprise Episode Inspired a Petition Aimed at McDonald’s

Adult Swim made April Fools Day great again on Saturday when they pulled a reverse Rick Roll—call it a Sanchez roll—releasing the aggressively anticipated season premiere of hit show Rick and Morty online out of nowhere. 

Fans thought creators Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon were taunting them when official Rick and Morty social media channels tweeted and Instagrammed the message, “Come watch TV.” It would have been an appropriate punishment for the incessant barrage of nerds constantly asking about Season 3’s premiere date if Adult Swim linked to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” Instead they provided an adrenaline-pumping three-hour block of the Season 3 premiere on repeat, revealing the long-awaited mystery of how Rick would escape from galactic prison.

While there was a veritable crap-ton of goodness, including a bunch of puppet-based, 8-bit, and stop-motion goodies on Adult Swim’s YouTube channel, we’re not going to waste time analyzing it in-depth—you can go to the Rick and Morty subreddit for that. 

The biggest takeaway from the episode has been a grassroots movement to bring back an obscure Szechuan chicken nugget sauce McDonald’s offered to promote the release of Disney’s Mulan in 1998. Not only is a renewed desire to eat the Szechuan sauce oozing all over Twitter, but McDonald’s has actually responded to tweets asking them to bring back the sauce.

McDonald’s probably recognizes a lucrative social media stunt when they see it. If pure self-interest isn’t enough motivation, a petition has already cracked 15,000 supporters attempting to light a fire under the food industry giant’s ass. 

The new episode of Rick and Morty is airing on Adult Swim every night this week, and the rest are coming this summer, according to a graphic at the end of the episode. But who even knows what that means anymore? Maybe they’ll do another one on 4/20.


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Nothing Is What It Seems in This Oddly Satisfying Japanese Design Show

Japan‘s public broadcasting system, NKH, airs a show titled Design Ah!, a children’s education program that teaches out of the box thinking. Created in 2011, the Peabody Award-winning series broadcasts a series of whimsical and surreal clips that show lateral thinking for not just not just design but creativity in general. One of the segments on Design Ah! is It’s Different From What You Expected. Filmmaker Daihei Shibata, who worked on this segment, has recently been uploading a selection of clips from the years 2013 to 2015.

The look of It’s Different From What You Expected will be familiar to anyone who remembers PBS children’s programs, or even the BBC’s satirical Look Around You. It’s Different From What You Expected, as you will see in these clips, features the typical Japanese minimalism and sense of humor.

In one clip, a girl blows up a yellow balloon in a park until, through some clever editing, she inflates it to gigantic proportions. In another clip, viewers see a lightbulb with two electrical wires leading to a battery clip, with the battery itself sitting just beside it. A hand then reaches in and plugs the battery into the clip, but instead of turning on the bulb, the battery itself becomes illuminated. These and other little whimsical bits of surreality await viewers of It’s Different From What You Expected. 

Click here for more from Design Ah!


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Michelle Obama really recommends this.


Angelo Badalamenti Reveals How He and David Lynch Composed the Twin Peaks‘ “Love Theme”

Open Culture

“On my last trip to New York, some friends took me to a favorite new-wave Chinese place of theirs. When I asked where to find the bathroom, they said to go downstairs. The staircase deposited me into one of the most surreal bathroom approaches I’ve ever experienced: a long, narrow, fully mirrored hallway with a hauntingly familiar composition piped in from speakers installed along its length. Not until I resurfaced and asked what the deal was could I identify the music: the “Love Theme” from David Lynch’s early-1990s television series Twin Peaks. Many TV themes have lodged themselves into our collective memory, mostly through sheer repetition, but few have retained as much evocative power as the one Lynch’s composer, Angelo Badalamenti, recorded for his short-lived postmodern detective show. It had that power…”

Angelo Badalamenti Reveals How He and David Lynch Composed the Twin Peaks‘ “Love Theme”

Kids Videos

The Brady Bunch: Time to Change

Edmund Finney’s Quest to Find the Meaning of Life

There are lots of comics on the Web these days and most of them stink by all measures. A few stand out however, and one of the exceptions is Edmund Finney’s Quest to Find the Meaning of Life.

While most comic strips, especially the ones in newspapers, have setups similar to TV sitcoms (a family or group of friends always siting on the same couch or eating at the same table), Edmud Finney is a very dreamlike adventure, with the protagonist going from one strange scene to the next, interacting with odd characters. This change in format opens up many possibilities that static scenarios cannot. Also, it’s genuinely funny.

Dallas Day 1


Dallas, Day 1
I hate flying. In center seat in back of plan, so lots of waiting and 3 & 1/2 hours with my arms at my sides. My knees start to hurt, and I’m not even a tall person.
My iPod is now a necessity when flying. I download This American Life episodes and zone away.
AirTran has XM Radio which is sometimes even better except whenever the pilot or attendants have something to say it gets broadcast through the same headphone jacks and is unpleasantly loud.
Cab driver friendly. I remember getting ripped off by a cabbie in San Antonio ten years ago and now hold a grudge against all taxi drivers in Texas. But I should give that up.
Hotel Magnolia very nice, not what I was expecting to see here.
Room small but tastefully decorated. I have my netbook, an Eee pc that I got for $300 (10.5 hour battery, 2.5 lbs or so, very tiny).
It’s much easier to travel with than my old laptop, my HP workhorse that only had one problem in three years until I dropped it recently and now it has a variety of ailments.
I wanted to plug the netbook into the ginormous TV in the room so as to have a bigger screen – I even brought a VGA cable.
But I can’t get the TV to acknowledge any input other than the cable.
I flip channels. I don’t like the new digital TV. With regular tv you just hit the up button until you see something you like.
Now you have to wait about 2 seconds for each channel to get digested. Channel surfing is now like riding a bicycle through deep gravel.

Went to a restaurant around the corner, Iron Cactus. Good margaritas, although very sweet and quite expensive.
I should have gotten some of the relatively authentic Tex-Mex food that I can’t get up north, but I get a steak withe broccoli and mashed potatoes – good but not special. The winner was the tortilla soup I had first. The broth was thick, more like jambalaya than chicken soup.
The complimentary salsa was better than just about anything I’ve had from a jar in New York.
Our waiter looks familiar and I can’t figure it out until the end: he looks and acts just like the actor Elijah Wood (Frodo in Lord of the Rings) except about a foot and a half taller and with red hair – so nothing like Elijah Wood, except the face was nearly identical.

Everyone is remarkably polite and friendly. It makes me feel like a jerk.
I feel almost like the character Dexter from the show of the same name. He is supposed to be a well-meaning sociopath who has a completely flat emotional affect, but has learned to mimic the emotional reactions of his fellow humans.

A TV show is being shot across the street – lots of spotlights and guys carrying racks of things back and forth.
It’s a pilot for ABC called “The Deep End”. It’s supposed to be set in L.A. but they’re shooting it in Dallas for some reason.
It’s supposed to snow tomorrow and the irony is not lost on anyone.

Spiral Island

I first heard about this guy, Reishee Sowa, about ten years ago on some TV news show. He built a floating island out of empty plastic bottles and was able to live on it as it floated near the Yucatan Peninsula.

Unfortunately, the island was destroyed by hurricane in 2005 and since then Sowa has been working on the replacement, named Spiral Island.

The island uses a quarter of a billion soda bottles tied together, with plywood sheets mounted on top of them, then sand is poured over the boards. Mangrove trees, which thrive in salt water, help anchor the sand to the bottles and provide shade.

Sowa is nearly completely independent on his island, gathering drinking water from rain, and using solar ovens for cooking.

More here, a blog devoted to islands

And more and photos here

This idea has fascinated me for 10 years, and is increasingly relevant as people try to find ways of controlling the enormous and growing amount of trash floating in the Pacific Ocean.