“I know. How about we play the basketball. I’m no Harvey Globetrotter, but-” – Marge Simpson
“Ahh. . .” – Bart Simpson
Yesterday afternoon, venerably contradictory web magazine Slate published an article called “Has Liz Lemon Become “Dumbass Homer”?”. (As you can probably guess, it’s about whether or not 30 Rock is going downhill the way The Simpsons did.) Set aside the question mark in the headline for a second and look at that term, “Dumbass Homer”. I’ve probably called Homer a dumbass before, but it’s not a capitalized term I’ve ever seen people use. The term commonly in use, here, at No Homers, and on other sites where Simpsons discussions happen (going all the way back to 1998), is “Jerkass Homer”. Here’s the section in question:
Some put the show’s point of no return at the ninth season episode “The Principal and the Pauper,” where it’s revealed that Springfield Elementary principal Seymour Skinner is, and always has been, an impostor, real name Armin Tamzarian, who pulled a Don Draper-like switcheroo with a presumed-dead comrade from the Vietnam War—the idea being that in the process the show turned up its nose at eight seasons of established continuity. But one of the most persistent early criticisms had to do with the character some fans called “Homer the idiot,” or simply “dumbass Homer.”
He’s got two terms in quotes that I’ve never seen anyone use with any frequency. Now, if this was just some random person off the street, or an article about gardening, or even a professional writer whose beat rarely included television or pop culture, this would be no big deal. But this is on a self described “Culture Blog” and the author of the piece, Sam Adams, has written for:
the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Time Out New York, the Onion A.V. Club, and the Philadelphia City Paper.
But if you google “homer the idiot” you get basically nothing. “Dumbass Homer” also gives bupkis, except for this Slate article at #1. “Jerkass Homer”, on the other hand, has three times as many results and has the Wikipedia page for Homer Simpson as its first result. In that Wikipedia article, under a section called “Character Development” you will find:
Chris Suellentrop of Slate wrote, "under Scully’s tenure, The Simpsons became, well, a cartoon. […] Episodes that once would have ended with Homer and Marge bicycling into the sunset […] now end with Homer blowing a tranquilizer dart into Marge’s neck." Fans have dubbed this incarnation of the character "Jerkass Homer".
They’re referencing your magazine! And it’s on the first Wikipedia page you should’ve checked.
Obviously this isn’t a world stopping mistake, and it doesn’t materially affect the main idea of the article. But it does indicate a disturbing incuriosity. No one, not the author, not the editor, not whoever wrote the headline, checked Wikipedia or Google before sounding authoritative about “one of the most persistent early criticisms” of The Simpsons. (Or, if they did, they did a piss poor job of it.) If you’re going to make generalizations like that, it’s best to know what you’re talking about.
Doing a little research, literally just a couple of minutes, will make a better case and keep nitpicky jerks on the internet from making fun of you. I’d also suggest hiring a few more editors, because the ones you have seem to be overworked.
Thanks for the link and the title to reader Patrick R.