A Brief Note on Fake Brands

The Springfield Files6

“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.

30 Responses to “A Brief Note on Fake Brands”

  1. 1 Anonymous
    17 November 2011 at 3:23 pm

    This seems to be a very recent trend with Zombie Simpsons.
    Funtendo Zii
    Steve Mobs

    Change a couple of letters and people will laugh because it’s the name, but not! Surely the audience are insulted.

    Also, a great point on how versatile the parodies are.

  2. 17 November 2011 at 7:00 pm

    At Moe’s, Homer’s in the mood for more excitement than his regular
    % Duff. Quick thinker, Moe draws two dots above the “u”, and voila:
    % “Doof,” direct from Sweden. “Skoal!” shouts Homer, but he’s not
    % fooled for long.
    % Moe draws back and offers him a real new brand: “Red Tick Beer.”

    ~ http://www.snpp.com/episodes/3G01

    ~ cheers…

    • 7 Charlie Sweatpants
      17 November 2011 at 7:58 pm

      Well, it would seem I’ve been mishearing that since the 90s. I thought it was soccer related. Also, I didn’t know this:


      It’s fixed now. Thanks.

      • 8 PEPITO! The Biggest Cat In The Whole Wide World!
        17 November 2011 at 8:06 pm

        But its not like SNPP isn’t without huge flaws, its self serving with many glaring omissions.

        why hasn’t it ever been replaced or updated? Don’t we deserve scripts written with the precision of a Biblical Scribe for the first first 10 seasons so we may quote correctly?

        would I be able to sleep on a big pile of money with many beautiful ladies if I did this?

        • 9 Charlie Sweatpants
          17 November 2011 at 10:00 pm

          I don’t think fame and fortune await, but the lack of a definitive source is one of the reasons I make the quotes here as accurate as possible. I check them all against the episode before I post them, and I still get things wrong from time to time. Happily I have you guys to correct me when I do.

          I’m honestly amazed SNPP is as accurate as it is. If I need to listen to a quote several times in order to get it right (which happens a lot, especially if it’s long or they’re speaking rapidly) all I have to do is push a button on my keyboard and the video backs up instantly. Doing that with a VCR on a tape you recorded yourself? Jebus.

        • 18 November 2011 at 3:12 am

          it was the best i could do with a limited budget and no free time…

          ~ cheers…

          • 11 PEPITO! The Biggest Cat In The Whole Wide World!
            18 November 2011 at 4:45 pm

            Oh no run!

            don’t get me wrong, It has been a tremendous resource for fans years and years and is invaluable to the uhhm quoting community. I just am wondering why no one else has attempted at updated or polishing it

        • 12 Son of Duane
          18 November 2011 at 10:24 am

          Now that’s a good idea, Pepito. If I had the time, I would do it myself.

  3. 13 Patrick
    17 November 2011 at 7:01 pm

    You mean like futurama’s “attack of the killer app” which had mom as the owner of the eye-phone and twitcher?

    • 18 November 2011 at 1:51 pm

      That was one episode of the new Futurama that really made me cringe. It has absolutely no need to try for topical “humour” like that. Ugh.

      It’s so not clever, for the Simpsons or Futurama. Mapple indeed.

      (Admittedly, Itchy and Scratchy would make for an excellent way to riff on violent video games. If not done in lazy Zombie style.)

  4. 15 Stan
    17 November 2011 at 7:01 pm

    The “Mapple” thing started as I remember right past Season 13, when pointless humor started being abroad. And btw, what is a “mapple” anyway? Why would they have an apple as an icon? This kind of joke would only have worked for Microsoft in those commercials where they shit on each other, to show exactly whom is being shitted on there.


    • 16 Patrick
      17 November 2011 at 7:11 pm

      Good question stan i’m surprised nobody has brought this up before and also the mapple logo would have worked better if it was a chewed M in the apple (hmm weird but more plausable) and lastly south park was allowed to use the term ‘apple’ while satirising the apple store, why couldn’t the simpsons? :S

      • 17 Snaked
        18 November 2011 at 1:42 pm

        Well, I brought it up almost 2 years ago on the nohomers forums in the following thread: http://www.nohomers.net/showthread.php?85576-Worst-Lampoons

        & it’s obvious that Al & Staff are intentionally making things worse in this aspect, too, whether entirely due to laziness or also to give us all middle fingers for no other reason than to piss us off ’cause they know they have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

        • 18 Patrick
          18 November 2011 at 7:18 pm

          Ah yes it mentioned the crappy knock-off tv’s from season 7 and really highlights the laziness of the show today and bonus points mentioning arthur as well anyway this was typed on a Cell laptop using SicroMoft Doors PX which is set to malfunction in t-minus 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ;)

  5. 17 November 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Mapple’s an original creation, like Rick Rouse or Monald Muck!

  6. 21 Chris
    18 November 2011 at 2:50 am

    Brilliant. I hadn’t thought of this before, but that’s exactly what’s wrong with these so-called parodies. But, to go another round in this chicken-or-the-egg game, why don’t the Simpsons parody ideas and trends anymore? It’s because they’re just plain lazy. Parodying an idea is hard work. Your source material isn’t just one thing, the Terminator. It’s also, as you say, Dirty Harry or James Bond or Lethal Weapon. It’s a lot easier to just call something Mapple and have everything about it refer to Apple, than it is to also refer to Microsoft, Dell, HP, etc.

    Everything that was great about the Simpsons can be traced back to one thing; hard work. They put in a lot of hours, and it shows. Everything that is horrid about Zombie Simpsons can be traced back to one thing; laziness. I have no idea how many hours they put in, but they aren’t productive hours. Nowadays it wouldn’t be Duff, it’d be Zudweiser or Hiller Lite. According to Zombie Simpson writers, Product name – a letter + a different letter = comedy gold. They’ve solved comedy forever! They’re just plain lazy.

  7. 18 November 2011 at 6:05 am

    Great post, though wasn’t MCGARNICLE (spelling?) the “Dirty Harry parody” while Wolfcastle, as you mentioned, parodied Lethal Weapon/Die Hard/etc? A small nitpick but yeah.

    I always thought BUZZ Cola was a rip on/reference to JOLT Cola, which boasts “twice the caffeine of every other drink!” Of course, I don’t think JOLT is available in every state, just like Faygo isn’t (hell, in some states, Big Red isn’t even red… what the hell?).

    • 23 Charlie Sweatpants
      18 November 2011 at 10:29 am

      “wasn’t MCGARNICLE (spelling?) the “Dirty Harry parody” while Wolfcastle, as you mentioned, parodied Lethal Weapon/Die Hard/etc? A small nitpick but yeah.”

      Yes and no. The McBain segment where the chief wants him to use the regulation gun instead of the cannon is straight Dirty Harry, ditto when he punches the chief out the window. McGarnagle himself was Clint Eastwood personally, but the show “McGarnagle” was aimed more at the mountain of terrible detective/cop shows that were around in the 1980s (Hunter, The Equalizer, Miami Vice, and so forth). Just like with Wolfcastle/McBain with Schwarzenegger, McGarnagle was both making fun of Eastwood and making fun of things he had nothing to do with.

  8. 24 Shane
    18 November 2011 at 8:59 am

    Very good post. Another excellent example of this is Itchy & Scratchy, where the original idea of using the company as a clever way of parodying animation history (mostly Walt Disney, but not entirely) has just disappeared in recent years.

  9. 25 Patrick
    18 November 2011 at 10:58 am

    Mom from futurama was the ultimate satire of every corporation on the planet

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