It’s an age-old question you’re all dying to know the answer to, I know. But in the year of 2016, it can be a whole lot of fun to look back on our favorite dysfunctional family and the cultural impact The Simpsons have had on our society as a whole.
With Donald Trump’s bizarre—or not so bizarre if you’ve ever seen a minute of FOX News—take over of an entire political party, republicans have been in sort of a tizzy over the fact that Trump is inches away from snagging the party’s nomination for president. With this fact in mind, Internet goers, conspiracy theorists and plain old Simpsons nerds like myself rushed to somehow relate the series to this year’s election.
Case in point? This moment from the year 2000 when Lisa Simpson makes an offhand remark about the debt incurred from a Trump presidency in the episode “Bart to the Future” from the show’s eleventh season. Granted this isn’t a moment from the golden age of the series, but season 11 is only one season after season 10, and it is pretty humorous to look back on now, or scary, depending on your point of view.
So that brings me to the actual point of this post: have The Simpsons actually predicted the future? Or has everything just been coincidental?
Here’s a hot take, or not so hot because I’m not an expert here. I’m just some schmo with a blog, so don’t sue me, but I’d argue the answer to both of those questions is a big, fat no. The Simpsons have not predicted the future, nor has everything just been a coincidence. Instead, the show’s cultural impact has been so immense that it has influenced the future.
The Simpsons first aired in 1989. Two years prior, they aired on the Tracey Ullman Show as a weekly cartoon skit. The rest is history; a history that includes a legacy of t-shirts, CDs, board games, video games, candy, toys and endless other forms of merchandise.
I find myself daily, and multiple times daily, quoting The Simpsons and relating my experiences to those of the character. If the rest of the world is anything like me, they’re probably doing the same thing—but to a lesser degree because I’m kind of weird. Remember to keep this thought in mind when the show seems to magically manifest itself in today’s reality.
In 2013, Buzzfeed Writer Jen Lewis detailed “21 Times The Simpsons Bizarrely Predicted the Future.” Some of these instances, such as the invention of Apple’s Siri and the tragic mauling of Roy Horn from the Las Vegas act “Siegfried and Roy” by one of their prized white tigers, are convincing evidence for the psychic ability of Simpsons’ writers, but hamburger earmuffs and a chocolate theme park? These simply could have been inspired by The Simpsons, or maybe some of these hilarious gags were just subconsciously ingrained in these inventors and entrepreneurs minds.
Whatever the case may be, we can’t claim The Simpsons have predicted the future, but they sure as hell have influenced the shape of it.