Simpsons sweatshop becomes controversial couch gag

Who knew panda bears dragged around Bart dolls? Who knew unhappy unicorns pressed the holes in the middle of Simpsons DVDs?

There’s such a thing as being self-ironic, and there’s such as thing as biting the hand that feeds you.

Gotta love The Simpsons for risking the latter with its latest “Couch Gag” in which mysterious British graffiti artist ‘Banksy’ delivers a dark sequence in which a sweatshop is producing Simpsons animation cells and merchandise with a maudlin theme running through it.

It’s glum, it’s unforgiving and it attacks 20th Century FOX without mercy. Who knew panda bears dragged around Bart dolls? Who knew unhappy unicorns pressed the holes in the middle of DVDs?

Most of the YouTube clips are being pulled for copyright.

NineMSN has the latter sequence. There’s also a crudely captured full opening sequence here.

Al Jean, an executive producer, spoke to the NY Times about what it took to get the sequence to air.

Q. How did you find Banksy to do this, and now that it’s done, how much trouble are you in?
A. Well, I haven’t been fired yet, so that’s a good sign. I saw the film Banksy directed, “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” and I thought, oh, we should see if he would do a main title for the show, a couch gag. So I asked Bonnie Pietila, our casting director, if she could locate him, because she had previously located people like Thomas Pynchon. And she did it through the producers of that film. We didn’t have any agenda. We said, “We’d like to see if you would do a couch gag.” So he sent back boards for pretty much what you saw.

Q. Were you concerned that what he sent you could get the show into hot water?
A. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it for a little bit. Certainly, Fox has been very gracious about us biting the hand that feeds us, but I showed it to Matt Groening, and he said, no, we should go for it and try to do it pretty much as close as we can to his original intention. So we did. Like we always do, every show is submitted to broadcast standards, and they had a couple of [changes] which I agreed with, for taste. But 95 percent of it is just the way he wanted.

You can read the full interview at NY Times.

13 Responses

  1. I saw this last night and thought it was brilliant! As much as I think the longer couch gags are just rediculous, I thought this was one of the better ones. Is there any actual controversey yet? I mean, the episode went to air, so the only real controversey is probably going to come from FOX.

  2. Remember back when they cut down the intro to simply the blackboard and Homer driving in, that was in order to have more quality story time but the writing is so bloody horrible now they might as well spend 20 minutes on the intro then run the credits!

  3. The couch gags are becoming too long and drawn out in my opinion. It seems they’ve exhausted all the best ideas already and they’re now going for gags which don’t seem to have anything to do with the couch.

    Anyway, The Simpsons is still one of the smartest US comedies. I’m bored with watching Letters and Numbers every night so I’m looking forward to its return.

  4. THis opening sequence is ausome it really does encapsulate what is going on and what has been going on and that not even the simpsons are amuned. On the other hand very ballsy by the simpsons producers to do something like this and even ballsier by FOX Network to allow this to go to air credit to them both. Banksy is a genious my media lecturers will be excited about this.

  5. i can see the channel 10 promo now…

    male voice: “witness one of the most controversial Simpson’s episode…”

    female voice: “…ever”

    yeah i think around the middle-late teens (seasons), the simpsons went on a real slump, but now they are picking up again

  6. @ GIL Yes many do. I watch it all the time. I love The Simpsons its definately back on track with a few new classics popping up in recent seasons; since about Season 19 its been on a bit of a winning streak. For me it really only slumped for about 4 or 5 seasons in the middle there.

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