Who Gives a Shit “Where” Springfield Is?

Much Apu About Nothing7

“Now, they may ask you to locate your town on a map of the US.  So, let’s do that . . . uh, Springfield, Springfield . . . um, right here.” – Homer Simpson
“Dad, you’re not pointing anywhere near Springfield.” – Lisa Simpson

When I saw my Twitter and inbox begin to go bonkers because Groening apparently said the “real” Springfield is the one in Oregon, I thought “huh” and made a note of it for Reading Digest.  Then it kept going, literally every item in my Google Alert for “The Simpsons” was related to it, and I even saw this story on the home page of BBC news:

Matt Groening told Smithsonian magazine he based the town on Springfield, Oregon, but since it is such a common US place name he knew many would think it was their own Springfield.

The Springfield question is one of the best-kept secrets in TV history.

First of all, it’s not a secret.  It’s a joke.  It doesn’t have a location – that’s the whole point – which is why I’ve always been a little puzzled about how worked up people get over this transparently silly topic. 

On one level, this is just another example of the internet acting as the world’s most exponential game of telephone.  Groening says something relatively innocuous and, five removes later, “Springfield is in Oregon, purple monkey dishwasher” is rocketing around the globe while strangers get into flame wars and Twitter fights that boil down to little more than cycles of “nuh-uh” and “yea-huh”. 

But beyond that artifact of modern communications, what causes this much excitement and interest in something that amounts to nothing?  And I don’t mean that rhetorically, I genuinely don’t get it.  I understand the fun in having irresolvable arguments about unanswerable things like, say, who was the best soccer player ever, or what the greatest movie in history is.  It’s the reason the internet is lousy with lists that rank everything from books and rock stars to cooking shows and lists themselves.  The human brain is wired to categorize and prioritize things, and we take to it the way ducks take to water.  But why all the excitement over the obviously nonsense location of a fictional town? 

The best I can come up with is that beyond just something to talk about, it’s a need to know everything about a topic, to have a resolution, as though not knowing for sure is some kind of mental canker sore that you just can’t keep your brain from fooling around with.  But even that doesn’t make sense because they’ve said, on multiple occasions, that Springfield is nowhere.  You already have an answer, one that is far more logically consistent than any specific location. 

So, yeah, I don’t get it.  Does anyone here either care about this, or understand why other people care?  Because, in the immortal words of Dr. Hibbert, this thing has be buffaloed. 

(Oh, in case anyone is interested, here’s a nice debunking of this whole thing, via our old friends Denise and Karma.)

26 Responses to “Who Gives a Shit “Where” Springfield Is?”

  1. 1 jake
    12 April 2012 at 2:09 pm

    Springfield is over there.

  2. 12 April 2012 at 2:23 pm

    I liked not knowing where Springfield was. All the contradictory clues throughout the series just made it funnier for me. This just seems like desparate publicity grabbing for a show way past its prime.

  3. 5 lennyburnham
    12 April 2012 at 3:27 pm

    I assume all the sites reporting it know that no one cares, but still think they’ll get lots of clicks reporting non-stories on really really recognizable things like The Simpsons.

  4. 6 safetydancer
    12 April 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Tvguide has just posted a clarification by Groening himself with a little help of Al Jean:


  5. 12 April 2012 at 7:28 pm

    The interviewer says, “You’ve never said it was named after Springfield, Oregon, before, have you?”

    But of course he has said that before! I remember first encountering it in the early ’90s: a comment from Groening describing Springfield, Oregon as “the next town over” from where he grew up, which is why he always thought of it as a generic American placename. It might have been in one of the early issues of Simpsons Comics – either in an interview printed there, or in one of his Bongo Beat columns.

    Which is why it’s so ridiculous that it’s being treated as newsworthy new information.

  6. 12 April 2012 at 8:37 pm

    This whole episode cost three hours of my life and I want them back. They could have been wasted in a far better way. Although the 50+ Wikipedia reverts did produce some laughs. My favourite:

    “On April 10, 2012, after 2 decades of hiding the location of Springfield, ”The Simpsons” series creator, [[Matt Groening]] finally revealed that the location of the city the show is set in was [[Oregon]]. While their is in fact a [[Springfield, Oregon]]; the real Springfield and the Springfield within the show bare no obvious similarities.”

    It’s actually quite worrying how low the basic standards of fact checking have got, that even the super, super reputable news agencies merrily misrepresented or for the most part just plain misreported this whole thing, when it would have taken anybody with basic reading skills mere minutes to find out what was really said. Even aside from the fact that anyone who knows anything about this show already knew or could easily guess which real Springfield gave it its name. As said over at rubbercat: if the media can produce this much bullshit about the imaginary location of a cartoon, what about the serious issues?

  7. 9 Patrick
    12 April 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Springfield ??, USA was the whole fucking point…… wow fuck this show seriously >:( springfield has been pointed to the mid-west more frequently and it cannot be set in oregon as in season 17 (yes that’s right) as homer has to drive bart long-distance to oregon so yeah it cannot be there even shown in the pic at the top… anyway who wants to talk about miss bellums face and the speaker guy on mary tyler moore and the middle while we’re at it…

  8. 13 April 2012 at 1:06 am

    I was part of alt.tv.simpsons back in the mid to late 90’s and besides debating the “worst episode ever!” the “where is Springfield?” argument was probably second or third most debated topics. Every time the Simpsons had a fake-out / clue to Springfield’s potential location, it seemed like there’d be a poster who ‘figured out’ where it was. Thankfully when the NHC came around, people either got sick of asking where it was or finally figured it out…until this interview.

    • 13 Charlie Sweatpants
      13 April 2012 at 9:05 am

      That makes sense. I’d guess Season 2 started things. That’s when they introduced “Capital City”, which plainly doesn’t exist anywhere, and had Burns run for governor while just referring to it as “this state”. Off the top of my head, the first time they were coy about where Springfield is was “Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington”, when they have that map that doesn’t quite make sense when it pans over Springfield, and obviously they did stuff like that many times after that. Thanks.

  9. 14 Anonymous
    13 April 2012 at 1:47 am

    Indeed, this is a silly argument, especially since everybody knows that the evidence clearly implies Springfield is really in Illinois.

  10. 15 akumatafur
    13 April 2012 at 2:05 am

    Who gives a shit indeed…

  11. 16 ecco6t9
    13 April 2012 at 3:14 am

    Springfield,..Ohiya Maude come on in.

    Also kinda related Grandpa Cotton Hill Hell,USA.

  12. 17 Stan
    13 April 2012 at 4:02 am

    I have no prob with Springfield’s location whatsoever. But when it gets to showing an ocean, a cacti desert, a lake, a mountain, a forest and a snowy winter all in the same place – it really starts to bug me off. You can’t just grab EVERYTHING, people, even for the sake of satire!

    • 13 April 2012 at 11:44 am

      Wow, that’s a really good point. And yeah, I am pretty sure there isn’t any town (that isn’t made on SimCity) that has all those properties…

      One thing, though, I love snowy settings. More things need to be set in snowworlds. I mean, FARGO and A SIMPLE PLAN, for example, a great films, but don’t they just stand out like 100x more because of the snow?

  13. 13 April 2012 at 11:42 am

    Springfield = Anytown, USA.

    • 20 Thrillho
      13 April 2012 at 11:56 am

      That pretty much sums it up. I always saw Springfield as the embodiment of all small or medium sized American towns. The fact that they never revealed where it was is kind of the joke. It could be just about anywhere.

  14. 21 Cyberen
    13 April 2012 at 12:22 pm

    In case the yellow skin and lack of chins didn’t point out, The Simpsons exist in a reality similar to but not identical to our own. So to say they belong to any particular town doesn’t really matter since it belongs in a separate universe where there’s a five corners in America.

  15. 22 SharoKham
    13 April 2012 at 3:02 pm

    They exist in a state where the capitol is Capitol City. It’s not rocket science, people.

  16. 23 baconkong
    13 April 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Knowing the inspiration for Springfield is interesting in a trivial sort of way, but to say that is true location within the canon of the show is not only disregarding numerous contradicting points in the show, but it misses out on the point of the town to begin with. It’s supposed to be a broad, flexible parody. It’s supposed to represent any town or small city you’d find in the USA. It’s like how Rainier Wolfcastle parodies action heroes in general (not just Schwarzenegger), or how Itchy and Scratchy parodies all the old violent cartoons (not just Tom and Jerry).

  17. 25 J-F.S.S
    14 April 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Glad to see that the Internet has returned to a question asked five years ago…

    In other WGAS news, I just noticed that the game title (It’s the nineties, and there is time for…) Klax sounds like Class as in “Time for Class”

    Sadly I do not use Twitter so TAKE THAT SUBTERNET!!!

  18. 26 Mourning Glory
    22 October 2012 at 3:52 am

    Well said, everyone. Back in the day, I never did get the appeal of trying to figure out where the “real” Springfield was, for all the reasons you’ve stated. Like A.BRA C.ADAVER mentioned, Springfield = Anytown, USA, so this whole thing is just pointless nonsense, like the rest of Zombie Simpsons. I’m not sure if it’s a ZS or getting-close-to-ZS episode where Lisa says something about the location being “in the clues”, but that was a point where I asked myself, Really? People are dumb enough to believe it’s some big secret and they have to look for “clues” for it, and the show itself is indulging them? It was stupid then, and it’s stupid now.

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