In his review of The Simpsons Movie today, the Times' film critic A.O. Scott declares that "the entire history of American popular culture — maybe even of Western civilization — amounts to little more than a long prelude to The Simpsons." A bold claim, but one he's pretty much made a few times before. In fact, everything Scott's written for the Times since he started there in 2000 amounts to little more than a long prelude to his review of The Simpsons Movie.
Sure, there's his 2001 essay Homer's Odyssey, in which he calls it "the best show on television" (even though it was in its crappy twelfth season at the time), but there are also the many gratuitous Simpsons references he's shoehorned into his reviews through the years. We've collected some of our favorites.
1. Not One Less, February 18, 2000
Suggests that the class-clown character in Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou's schoolroom drama "has access to pirated satellite broadcasts of The Simpsons," even though this is clearly preposterous.
2. Mission Impossible II, May 24, 2000
Says the villain (played by Dougray Scott) delivers his lines "in a mock-burr that sounds like Groundskeeper Willie of The Simpsons played on a slow speed."
3. The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, June 30, 2000
Points out that R&B "cloaks its essential inanity in warmed-over sub-Simpsons facetiousness." But, really, pretty much everything is "sub-Simpsons facetiousness" to Scott.
4. O Brother, Where Art Thou?, December 22, 2000
Floats the possibility that John Turturro "prepared for the role by studying tapes of Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel."
5. Bread and Tulips, July 27, 2001
Makes the salient point that, despite their many obvious similarities, real-life Italian housewives are actually quite different from Marge Simpson: "Unlike Marge, who always returns, with relief as well as regret, to her husband and children, [protagonist] Rosalba provokes very little ambivalence with her flight."
6. Remembering Cannes 2003: Worst Festival Ever, June 1, 2003
Dismisses 2003's Cannes Film Festival as the "worst festival ever." Just like Comic Book Guy would say!
7. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, July 1, 2003
Says that Arnold Schwarzenegger's "main contribution to American culture has been inspiring wicked parodies on Saturday Night Live and The Simpsons."
8. The Passion of the Christ, February 25, 2004
Opens his review with a plot summary of the "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" episode, in which Mel Gibson guest stars. No, we don't know why.