“Another Duff, Homer?” – Moe
“Nah, it’s Friday night, Moe. I want to try something special.” – Homer Simpson
“Ah, sure, sure, here you go: Düff, from Sweden.” – Moe
“Skoal!” – Homer Simpson
After the spastic fit of fake brands that was the opening to “The Food Wife”, I and several others pointed out how weak the brand parodies are on Zombie Simpsons. As was brought up in comments, not only were many of them repeats, but they mostly aren’t even creative. Partly this is the same problem that plagues newer Treehouse of Horror episodes: weak source material. The more fundamental reason though is that Zombie Simpsons parodies brands and products, whereas The Simpsons parodied ideas and trends.
Take, for example, some of the most famous fake brands on the show: Buzz, Duff and Laramie. None of those are direct parodies of any single brand. Buzz isn’t a joke aimed at Coke or Pepsi or anything else, it’s aimed at all of them in one piercingly descriptive word. The same is true of Duff. Duff isn’t Miller or Coors or Budweiser, it’s every one of them and then some. (Duff is such a strong concept that they were even able to play off it with Fudd and Düff.) Similarly, Laramie tobacco isn’t Philip Morris or any specific cigarette brand, it’s a stand in for all those wretched tobacco companies.
The Simpsons certainly did its share of direct parodies. Dr. Hibbert is Bill Cosby, Drederick Tatum is Mike Tyson, Malibu Stacey is Barbie. But even the direct ones went beyond their narrow niches. Consider Rainier Wolfcastle, their stand in for Arnold Schwarzenegger. The McBain movies aren’t simply Schwarzenegger films, they use them to parody everything from Dirty Harry movies to Lethal Weapon movies to James Bond movies.
“Mapple” can never be that versatile. Hell, it’s just Apple with an M stapled to the front. You can’t use it to mock anything except Apple. And it’s not like Apple is such a distinct company that it has to be treated uniquely. If they had come up with a genuinely broad parody of Apple they could’ve used it on any trendy tech firm, from Google to Amazon to Facebook. (Of course, that would require them to actually want to make fun of Facebook instead of having the founder on for his two minutes of yellow fellatio.) Things like “Grand Theft Scratchy” and “Funtendo” aren’t just lazy parodies, they’re also self limiting.