It is but a small step from the sublime to the ridiculous –
75th Birthday last week to the Simpsons’ 20th Birthday
Purists will point out that America’s First Cartoon Family
actually originated on the Tracey Ullman Show two years before their own full
season premiere in 1990, and, even then, the first episode was in fact shown in
the run up to Christmas the previous year, but today is the official
anniversary and who are we to argue with Fox?
Although mini-anarchist Bart was originally the focus of a
couple of years of “Bartmania”, it is his father, Homer, who has proved the
real “break out” character.
Homer Simpson is an “everyman” character with whom most
middle-aged men, and their families, can identify. The dark side of the
American dream, he is a lazy, overweight, self-centred – but not entirely
selfish – salary drone who is unencumbered by much in the way of intelligence
Yet even he is not immune to the distinctively American belief
that if you take your chances and work hard, you can achieve a better life. In
fact, he has rather an impressive track record as an entrepreneur. He has
founded at least three businesses of his own: Spring Shield, a security firm;
Mr Plow, a snow clearance operation; and Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net, an
No one, including Homer, ever knew what
Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net actually did, but then the same is true of a great
many internet businesses, especially those established in the 90s, and their
Homer has also enjoyed short-term success as a bootleg “Beer
Baron”, as a film producer, as a travelling aphrodisiac salesman, as an
experimental farmer, as an unlicensed chiropractor, and twice as a talent agent.
None of these enterprises lasted long, or left him with any
significant profits in the end, but there is something heroic in the way he
keeps trying despite his constant failures.
After all, he can take comfort – as can we all – from the
fact that bigger idiots than Homer Simpson have succeeded in business simply by
being in the right place at the right time with a very simple idea and the
courage to act on it.