07
Jan
12

Response to Denise du Vernay

Hurricane Neddy7

“We need someone so irritating that Ned simply will not be able to repress his rage.  Homer, can you be that annoying?” – Dr. Foster

Over New Year’s, our old friend Denise du Vernay wrote a blog post about resolutions she’d like to see other people adopt here in 2012.  The fourth item on her list was this:

4. Stop saying The Simpsons should be canceled, that it used to be better, or whatever mean thing you say about it. This one is going to be contentious, but hear me out.

First things first, Denise loves the show, knows all about it, and has written a ton on the subject, so she’s someone whose opinions are to be respected and who deserves to have her statements taken seriously.  Obviously I don’t agree with that particular resolution, but she makes a number of points that crop up routinely, both around here and in other Simpsons parts of the internet, so I’m going to go through the whole thing.  Let’s hear her out:

First off, I don’t go around saying that I think your favorite show should be canceled. It’s mean-spirited and moot. If I don’t like something, I mostly just turn the channel or leave the room. Its existence doesn’t bother me because no one is making me watch said shows just like no one is making you watch The Simpsons.

I know that no one is making me watch it, and believe me when I say that for a long time I did exactly that.  Between late 2002 and early 2009 (Seasons 14-20, roughly) I don’t think I watched a single new episode from start to finish.  I assumed that the show would simply wither and fall off the schedule at some point.  But it didn’t.  It just kept on going, all the while making the great years of The Simpsons harder and harder to find in syndication and tarnishing the original show’s reputation among fans new and old.

That’s what makes Zombie Simpsons different than any other show on television, and it’s why telling critics of Zombie Simpsons to simply not watch it is a hollow argument.  Five years from now, no one is going to care about the Real Housewives of Wherever, Jersey Shore, Work It or any other wretched, forgettable crappy television shows.  But five years from now people are still going to be talking about The Simpsons, and drawing a clear and bright a line between the good years and the bad years is the only way to offset the pop culture cost Zombie Simpsons imposes on my favorite television show. 

Also, some of my friends work on The Simpsons, so when you say that, it’s actually hurtful to me because you’re saying that people I care about should lose their jobs.

If I had the power to cancel the show and I cancelled it, you’d have every right to be angry with me for hurting people you care about.  But I don’t have that power, and neither does anyone else who complains about the modern iteration of the show.  If fan criticism was going to end this thing, it would’ve happened by now.

Next, TV, like all art, is subjective. I have no interest in Harry Potter, but I totally get that the books and movies are terrific. I have a hard time with the violence in Tarantino films so I avoid them (except Pulp Fiction, of course), but I know he is phenomenal. Archer does nothing for me. Nothing. I thought Inception completely sucked. Now, I am positive that these are all my issue, my shortcoming. Thus, I don’t insult others who like these things.

To take the last part first, I don’t insult people who like Zombie Simpsons.  Oh sure, I’ll tease them every once and a while, but I’ve never said that someone’s opinions aren’t valid or that they aren’t entitled to like Zombie Simpsons.  I don’t think I’ve ever written that someone is stupid for liking it, and the simple reason for that is that I am keenly aware of all the low brow pop culture that I enjoy.  I am in no way shape or form an arbiter of good taste, and I don’t claim to be. 

For the first part, opinions on Tarantino, Harry Potter and Inception are irrelevant for the same reason as the “don’t watch it” argument.  But as a thought experiment, what would happen if J.K. Rowling lost control of Harry Potter tomorrow and some publisher started pumping out crappy books by hacks to cash in?  Wouldn’t long time Potter fans be completely justified in criticizing those books as long and loud as they pleased? 

Are many of my favorite Simpsons episodes from the ’90s? Why, sure. But many of them are more recent, too. And how do I know that my affection for certain episodes isn’t because of the emotions, memories, and events surrounding them? I won’t know until I’m gray and post-menopausal.

I’m glad you like them, happy for you even.  Everyone’s entitled to enjoy what they enjoy, and in a world where there’s often more pain and aggravation than there is relaxation and pleasure, I say take whatever joy you can.  But if you can only enjoy things that no one else has ever disliked, then your list of awesome stuff is going to be awfully short.  I guarantee you that every album, movie and show you love has a review on the internet by someone that hated the fuck out of it.  That doesn’t mean you ought to let it bother you.  Your reasons for liking or disliking things are your own, as are mine. 

Finally, when you say mean things about The Simpsons, I know you’re full of crap. How do I know? Well, because if you’re not watching the show, then you don’t know how good it is and therefore, you’re full of crap and should be quiet. If you are watching it, you’re enjoying it (why else would you watch it?) and therefore, you are simply saying you don’t like it to sound cool, which also makes you full of crap.

I would submit pretty much the entire content of this blog as a refutation of that.  We do watch it, and we do come up with a lot of well documented reasons why it simply isn’t as good as the old ones.  Again, these are all opinions and you are free to disagree with them, but if there is one thing we cannot be accused of, it is being uninformed about the current state of the show.

It became cool for people to say they didn’t like The Simpsons sometime around 1994 because when something becomes widely popular, some early fans reject it. Happens all the time. It happened with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Swatches, tapas, Juno, and it might even happen to you.

This is an argument I’ve never understood.  The only people saying that they didn’t like The Simpsons in 1994 were the deepest of computer nerds.  And if we define “cool” as a few people taking a fashionable point of view before it becomes uncool when too many people jump on the bandwagon (e.g. Swatches), then disliking the current state of the show has crossed that boundary and gone back again several times.

More importantly, the popular opinion on the quality of The Simpsons relative to Zombie Simpsons isn’t very fluid.  There’s a general and long established consensus that the show fell apart, and pretty much everyone will give you the same approximate timeframe for when it happened.  There’s even charts and numbers to back this up.  If being “cool” were a major influence on people’s opinions, I’d expect to see some swing in those numbers, some change in the overall tenor of conversation about the show over the last decade.  But we could’ve started this site five or even ten years ago and we wouldn’t be writing things all that different than we’re writing about now.

I know there are a lot of people that like Zombie Simpsons, and I don’t begrudge them that.  But there are real differences, quantifiable and identifiable, between The Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons; and I, for one, am not going to stop pointing them out.  You are welcome to disagree or simply ignore me; but if my criticisms affect your enjoyment of the show, that’s on you, not me. 

All that said, let me heartily endorse her fifth point:

5. Get off your phone when you’re doing something else. No matter how good you think you are, you actually suck as a driver when you’re on the phone.


22 Responses to “Response to Denise du Vernay”


  1. 1 monoceros4
    7 January 2012 at 2:10 pm

    “Its existence doesn’t bother me because no one is making me watch said shows just like no one is making you watch The Simpsons.”

    This ignores one important matter: as long as “The Simpsons” remains on the air, that’s one slot fewer for another show. Consider the analogy of newspaper comics. In one sense the continued existence of garbage like “Blondie” and “Beetle Bailey” doesn’t bother me at all; I don’t read those strips and I can’t imagine I waste more than five minutes a month even thinking about them. But because those strips will never be cancelled, newer and funnier comic artists will never get a shot. Why? Because any time some newspaper states that they’re thinking of getting rid of an antique and desperately unfunny relic like “Garfield” a hundred Grandpa Simpson types write vitriolic letters to the editor and scare them into keeping the comic strip lineup essentially frozen. Sort of like Denise fuming that anyone dare suggest cancelling “The Simpsons”.

  2. 2 lennyburnham
    7 January 2012 at 2:56 pm

    I agree with the above comment. The fact that TV networks are determined to let shows go on forever because of the costliness of making a new show is a real drain on the quality of television. In fact, a lot of shows go on longer than the original guys even wanted, which is probably the case with The Simpsons just going by writer credits through the years. I’m sure all the writers on The Simpsons are happy to have a job, but talk to any of those writers after they go in for a meeting with Fox where their pilot is rejected for development and they would probably have different things to say about the fact that Fox keeps renewing The Simpsons and Family Guy.

  3. 3 Mr. Snrub
    7 January 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Sorry but I’m in general agreement with Denise (apart from her comments about “if you’re watching it you must enjoy it”, which I heavily disagree with). I do not like modern Simpsons but I do not wish for it to be cancelled. There is literally no need. Sure, it’s one slot that could be given to a new show, but, considering the chance that that show will likely be poor, who cares? There’s plenty of room for new shows. Also the show’s legacy was destroyed 10 years ago so it’s not like ending it now would retain it in some form. Not to mention that the show still clearly appeals to a significant number of people, which is the aim of a TV show whether you like it or not.

  4. 4 Richie
    7 January 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Mr. Snrub, you say there is no “need” to finish the show, but really, what is being gained from it? You argue that there’s a chance a new show could be poor, but you don’t know that for sure. You’re merely making an assumption, and considering the current quality of Zombie Simpsons, the show you’re defending, I’m all up for a breath of new life. According to you, if the legacy of the show was killed a decade ago, what harm occurs when the show’s still on the air? I know, let’s create TONS of Simpsons spinoffs of horrendous quality, let’s degenerate the franchise even more, because, who cares, the legacy is already dead, so creating another 50 years worth of horrible material doesn’t hurt at all, right? ‘ll let you think the answer to this one yourself.

  5. 5 Greg
    7 January 2012 at 8:33 pm

    “but really, what is being gained from it?”

    Money.

    • 6 Richie
      7 January 2012 at 9:16 pm

      Obviously, my comment didn’t intend to be representing a network’s interests, putting aside artistic qualities in favor of economic gain. As said; going by that, let’s infest TV Land with dozens, hundreds even of new Simpsons’ seasons, who cares if the material itself would make novice comedians puke with disgust, as long as it brings the $$$, so be it, eh? Come on, people.

      • 7 January 2012 at 10:25 pm

        The whole “if you don’t like, don’t watch it!” shit basically means; “You’re opinion is wrong, go fuck yourself.”

        Really, the show should end. The defenders malaise “defense” of ZS is more “Zombie” than than the current state of the show.

        • 8 Mr. Snrub
          8 January 2012 at 5:47 am

          “The whole “if you don’t like, don’t watch it!” shit basically means; “You’re opinion is wrong, go fuck yourself.””

          …it really doesn’t.

          And in reply to Richie who says: “the legacy is already dead, so creating another 50 years worth of horrible material doesn’t hurt at all, right?” I agree the material is “horrible” but that doesn’t justify the view that the show should be cancelled. Just because a small group of people hate the current show doesn’t mean the show should be cancelled. The show still appeals to a significant enough number of people, so why should it be cancelled? And sorry to use the so-called “shit” response, but if you hate it THAT much, just don’t watch it. I watch the current show because they throw out the odd decent show now and then and, if I’m brutally honest, I’m curious about what the show is up to currently. That, for me, justifies 20mins a week.

          And – I’ll stress it again – I generally don’t like the show at the moment. But it’s just a TV show. Discuss it all you want but there is no point in harping on about how it should be cancelled. Ok, that last sentence was a bit contrary……

          Okay basically I’m just saying relax a little, not to Richie specifically but everyone harping on about cancellation. There’s no need to get angry or heated up about this sorta thing. Maybe that’s a false interpretation but I often get the impression that DHS is being some sort of angry little man when on the topic of current Simpsons. Just chill out. The Simpsons will go on until the voice actors die so you may as well deal with it, for now.

          • 8 January 2012 at 8:55 pm

            >>>“The whole “if you don’t like, don’t watch it!” shit basically means; “You’re opinion is wrong, go fuck yourself.””

            “…it really doesn’t.”

            It does. That verbage is just an edict to sound like your on the side of common sense so the ‘haters’ will all go away so you can be surrounded by similar opinions of how the show should linger on, regardless of how shitty it becomes. Saying “if you don’t like it, stop watching it!” makes about as much sense as “if you like, keep watching it!”

            Denise’s problem is she thinks that demanding the end of the Simpsons is like demanding the end to Christmas, or any other other genuine institution, which the Simpsons, Zombie or otherwise, is NOT.

  6. 10 ryc
    7 January 2012 at 10:13 pm

    I dont want the show to end either. How bad its gotten and the comments towards it are entertaining as hell.

  7. 12 Thrillho
    8 January 2012 at 1:41 am

    Every year the show stays on, its legacy becomes more and more tarnished. Even if it had been cancelled around, say, Season 13, the general consensus right now would be “It got pretty bad towards the end, but it was still a great show overall.” Unfortunately, the producers have let it run on for 10 more seasons, and it will frequently be referred to as “That once classic show that ended up having more bad episodes than good ones.” (Of course, when people talk about the show’s greatness, they’ll only be talking about the episodes from the ’90s.) I actually used to be among the crowd who didn’t think the show was as good as it used to be but didn’t want to see it get cancelled, but that’s not the case anymore. Each new season continues to kill what little excitement I had. There’s still the occasional clever line, but there isn’t anything in Season 23 that justifies its reason to exist. I’ll still be a fan long after the show is done, but enough is enough.

    Wow, I typed a lot.

  8. 13 Denise
    8 January 2012 at 7:15 pm

    [Note: Just so this is clear, this comment was written by an anonymous person as a joke. See the next reply by the real Denise du Vernay. – Charlie]

    Stop saying what you think should happen!
    Stop it!
    Seriously!
    I think it should continue, and my opinion is better than yours.
    Why?
    Because everyone who disagrees with me is just part of a curmudgeonly small group of nerds who can’t turn off their brain and laugh at things like a normie such as myself, who is also a genius!

    • 14 Du
      12 January 2012 at 7:54 pm

      As I’m sure you realize, the comment above was not written by Denise Du Vernay, the author of the post discussed above. Moderator, please delete the comment.

      • 15 Charlie Sweatpants
        12 January 2012 at 8:52 pm

        It’s been up for four days, so at this time I don’t see much point in outright deleting it. Instead, I’ve added an editor’s note that makes your non-authorship explicit. I figure modifying it like that is better than leaving half-“deleted” copies in caches and archives forever.

        • 16 Du
          13 January 2012 at 9:57 pm

          Fair enough, CS. Thanks!
          I had intended to stay out of the discussion, but since I’m here anyway, I’d like to thank you for the respectful way you challenged my ideas without attacking me personally. It was a refreshing change from the sourness and cruelty-in-anonymity I’ve been experiencing online lately.

          I’m not going to change anyone’s mind about new Simpsons, I realize, but may I suggest “Coming To Homerica”? That episode, along with “Lisa the Drama Queen” and the recent Christmas episode, are a few that I honestly believe can rival anything created during the Oakley-Weinstein dreamteam years.
          Peace out,
          denise du vernay

  9. 17 sourbelly
    8 January 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Very cogent arguments, Charlie. Especially regarding syndication. At this point, the terrible episodes far outnumber the great ones. It’s a sad state of affairs.

  10. 18 swarming with magic robots
    8 January 2012 at 10:46 pm

    I can’t go back and watch the good seasons of the Simpsons with the knowledge that new episodes are still being produced, about 15 years past the show’s expiration date, that make Married With Children at its worst look like television’s finest moment. It’s way too depressing.

    I want Zombie Simpsons to get cancelled so I can finally stand to watch the real Simpsons again.

    Which is selfish, sure, but no more so than wanting it to stay on the air for eternity.

  11. 19 Chris
    9 January 2012 at 3:18 am

    You want to know why I wish were the show were cancelled, and wish that it had been cancelled following season 9? Because I can’t tell anyone I’m a fan of the Simpsons without them thinking about the shitfest that the show currently is. If I ever talk about the Simpsons, it’s always with the disclaimer, “the old episodes.” In other words, it’s legacy has been completely tarnished, and the sooner the show gets cancelled, the sooner it can regain its legacy and people will forget about the shitfest it’s been for 13 freaking seasons now.

    I stayed away from the show following season 12, when I finally came to the conclusion that there was no turning back. I started watching again in season 20, just to see what it was like. I stopped again sometime during season 21, because it was so painful to watch. It’s not just bad in comparison to its older self, its bad in comparison to anything. I honestly can’t believe there are people out there who still enjoy this. I don’t like Family Guy anymore, but I can see why people enjoy that. I see no reason to enjoy current Simpsons. The storylines are all rehashed, and the comedy is poor on every level, from the writing to the actor’s delivery. Family Guy and South Park have zaniness and shock value, the Simpsons have nothing.

    I know, it’s just a TV show don’t take it so seriously, but damnit it was the best show ever made in my opinion and it deserves better than this.

    • 20 monoceros4
      11 January 2012 at 10:54 pm

      Someone says the obvious thing.

      A long time ago, “The Simpsons” reminded us that they owe us viewers nothing. In an episode that I daresay was _the_ crucial turning point in the transformation of “The Simpsons” into Zombie Simpsons, we were told that we’ve gotten a ton of entertainment from the show at very little cost and we’re a load of pettifogging, freeloading nerds if we object to what the show’s become.

      In a way, you can’t object to that. Yeah, it’s not really costing me anything personally if one of my favorite TV shows turns from gold into shit. I can always stop watching, and for the most part I did. I’ve seen a scattering of more recent episodes but not many. Apparently that’s enough to prove me a hypocrite, according to people like Denise du Vernay. Seriously, she seems to be arguing that “The Simpsons” ought to be completely critic-proof: if you don’t watch the show you don’t know what you’re talking about but if you ever watch the show you’re just proving you secretly like it or something like that.

      But I’m straying from my point. Here’s the thing: let’s say that a famous restaurant, known in the past for its exquisite cuisine, undergoes a change in management and starts serving up bad food. Can the new management, if it likes, claim that they can do whatever they like with the restaurant they now own, that its critics can’t tell them what to do, and that if you don’t like it you can always go somewhere else? Sure. “I’m the boss and you can’t tell me what to do” will always be a defensible position to take–although I hope you’ll forgive me for suggesting that one hallmark of a creator in decline is when he resorts to that excuse. But we customers also have the right to tell everyone we know that the food is shit now and that nobody should visit that restaurant any more. Sure, the boss can do what he likes, but he doesn’t have the right to expect that everyone should like it or give him any latitude just because of good name or past reputation.

      Why are we supposed to give “The Simpsons” a pass again? Just because of its name?

  12. 16 January 2012 at 9:05 am

    Her: “Inception completely sucked.”

    Eh?

  13. 21 March 2012 at 2:06 am

    Criticism is certainly not the problem; it’s the indignant outcries demanding the show be canceled that are out of line. I very much love the show. Occasionally some episodes blow my mind; occasionally some episodes leave me lukewarm. But the great-to-mindblowing episodes far outnumber the rest. I don’t want the show to be canceled, and I just don’t see why someone would believe that something distasteful to some should be removed. (In the words of Homer Simpson: That’s not America. That’s not even Mexico!)

    To use your restaurant analogy: If someone dislikes the food at a particular restaurant, he or she should tell his or her friends & family, complain to management, write some reviews on Yelp or Patch or wherever, and choose not to eat there anymore. That is criticism and that’s great. We seem to agree 100% on that point, Monoceros4, and I’m certainly not advocating giving The Simpsons, or anything, a pass based on its name or its past or whatever.

    But to demand that the restaurant be closed–shut down because some people dislike the food, think it used to be better before, preferred the previous chef better, whatever the reason–is simply an unreasonable approach. Some people might still really like the food there. Some people might actually prefer the new chef’s clam chowder.

    THAT is the distinction. It is the epitome of self importance (and a touch of hubris) to say, “This displeases me. Therefore, it must cease to exist.” A more reasonable approach is, “This displeases me. I shall turn off the TV and grab a book.”

    (And if the book is disappointing, a new book should be selected. Does the reader have the right to demand the library not carry the offending book? that no one read the book? that the publisher stop printing it? that the book be banned from schools? No. The reader should grab a different book and get over it.)


Comments are currently closed.

E-Mail

deadhomersociety (at) gmail

Run a Simpsons site or Twitter account? Let us know!

Twitter Updates

The Mob Has Spoken

The Artist Formerly… on Quote of the Day
Ryan on Quote of the Day
Victor Dang on Quote of the Day
Anonymous on Quote of the Day
Anonymous on Quote of the Day
Ryan on Quote of the Day
Gabbo on Quote of the Day
Aaron Grierson on Quote of the Day
Dave on Quote of the Day
Gabbo on Quote of the Day

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Reruns

Useful Legal Tidbit

Even though it’s obvious to anyone with a functional frontal lobe and a shred of morality, we feel the need to include this disclaimer. This website (which openly advocates for the cancellation of a beloved television series) is in no way, shape or form affiliated with the FOX Network, the News Corporation, subsidiaries thereof, or any of Rupert Murdoch’s wives or children. “The Simpsons” is (unfortunately) the intellectual property of FOX. We and our crack team of one (1) lawyer believe that everything on this site falls under the definition of Fair Use and is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. No revenue is generated from this endeavor; we’re here because we love “The Simpsons”. And besides, you can’t like, own a potato, man, it’s one of Mother Earth’s creatures.