Springfield, Iraq

Curator's Note

With a War of the Worlds-style hoax over in this episode of The Simpsons, a real alien invasion begins. Earlier in the episode, Springfieldians were the Americans in this story, easily succumbing to fear-mongering, and losing any sense of dignity or perspective in the process (in an attempt to fool the aliens, for instance, the town remove their clothes and wallow in mud like animals).

Here in this clip, though, America is now the alien invading force, and Springfield is Iraq. And the “hearts and minds”? A grotesque image offers clear judgment on how such “support” is being obtained. Meanwhile, though the segment’s coloring is explained as “nostalgic” sepia, it becomes the appropriate shade for a final shot of a destroyed Iraqi landscape. Somewhere down there are Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and baby Maggie. Wait for the joke at the end and you won’t find it: only the plea, “I don’t want to set the world on fire.” The show that laughs at everything here finds little to laugh at and much to scorn: an extremely rare moment in Simpsons history, and all the more powerful because of it. Two days before the election, no less.

Comments

It's worth noting that the

It’s worth noting that the clip here is the censored version aired by Fox. Previously, toward the end of the sequence when they are surveying the wreckage, one of the aliens says: “This sure is a lot like Iraq will be.” The versions are juxtaposed here.

This is really a moment in

This is really a moment in Simpson’s history, as Jonathan notes, and I actually find it stronger without the comment about how Iraq might look. I think Simpsons’ viewers are far more savvy than that comment gives them credit for being. If the censors are what erased that remark, then they did the show a service. But it is also a very interesting turn of events that the censored ending gets immediate play on YouTube. What is “underground” any more?

Speaking of "winning" hearts

Speaking of “winning” hearts and minds, watch soldiers rip them from Iraqi children here.

That has to be the most

That has to be the most depressing piece of video I’ve seen in a long, long time.

You say that if you wait for

You say that if you wait for a joke at the end, you won’t find one. But isn’t the use of the song just a very ironic joke? First, the sound of the song is the polar opposite of that scene: it is a ’20s love song that is all wrong for a scene of destruction and flame.

Second, the use of the song, juxtaposed with the images and the implicit references to America in Iraq, set up a rather absurd (and, I think, funny) analogy between America’s war in Iraq, and someone who just wants to be loved. The lyrics speak about losing “all ambition for worldly acclaim.” The only thing the singer cares about is winning over the heart of his love. This makes the absurdist implication that America is the singer: not caring about what the world thinks of it, America is a poor lover who just wants to win over the heart of Iraq.

These two facts—the tonal disparity between the song and the scene, and the ironic comparison of America’s war in Iraq to a young man yearning for nothing else but to win over his love—make the ending, in my mind, a very ironic and absurd joke (you can just picture Monty Python making the joke very literal).

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