Sunday, November 18, 2007

one small exception

I used to collect Simpsons quotes. Well, let me clarify that. I still pick up quotes just from watching. But I used to collect them more seriously. The Simpsons has got a lot of flak over the years for mocking religion. Shortly after I started watching it (belatedly, when I was in seminary), I decided that judgment was unfair. The show mocks pretty much everything, but more than most T.V. fare, it embraces religion as an indispensable feature of ordinary life. Taken in that context, what the Simpsons does with religion actually has some important positive aspects.

So, I started collecting religious quotes. I faithfully watched the two reruns that aired each night and all new episodes. Some had such major religious themes that I taped them for later study. With others, I transcribed the relevant dialog. I had an idea of someday writing a book about the topic (which has already been done, but I still think there's room for a more comprehensive project). Over time, however, I realized that I was devoting far too much time to the show. I cut out watching reruns, and then decided that I needed to put the religion project to rest. I just didn't need that pressure to keep watching faithfully. I still watch new episodes as they come out, but now I typically watch them once, and that's it. I did watch the movie this summer (though honestly, I didn't pay much attention to when it was coming out, nor was I terribly optimistic that it would be any good), and I even made the pilgrimage to the nearest Kwik-E-Mart. (To promote the movie, about a dozen 7-11 stores around the country were transformed into Kwik-E-Marts for a month; there happened to be one not terribly far from here.) I sometimes think about stopping altogether, but I think I've mostly got the habit under control :-)

Tonight, I had to make an exception. I can't recall ever having seen a reference to Orthodoxy in the Simpsons. (I deleted all the material I collected, so it's hard to say for sure.) But in the most recent episode, "Husbands and Knives," the opening scene highlights Comic Book Guy's usual foul attitude toward his clientèle. After Milhouse accidentally sheds a tear on a comic book, he says, "Nice work, Dr. Boo-hoo. Your tears have smudged Wolverine's iconic sideburns. Hence, you must buy this comic book. And the cost of your innocent accident is . . . (he checks a pricing guide) . . . $25, please."

In response, Milhouse wails, "But that's the money Yia-yia Sophia gave me for Greek Orthodox Easter."

It's not a terribly funny line--mostly just based on the obscurity of the reference--but how could I resist recording it?

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