'Gross and Terrible' - Simpsons writer on COVID-19 predictions controversy
A look back at the controversy surrounding The Simpsons' perceived predictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If there was ever a silver lining to the pandemic, it was the humor we sought from beloved TV shows. Fans of 'The Simpsons' found a unique pastime: tying together pandemic occurrences with 'The Simpsons' episodes. However, not everyone found this entertaining - particularly former Simpsons writer Bill Oakley.
'Gross and Terrible' - Bill Oakley Condemns Misappropriation of 'The Simpsons'
As reported by The Independent, Oakley expressed his displeasure at the "gross and terrible" jokes about the show's alleged pandemic predictions. Numerous clips from the animated series turned viral, where fans claimed the show foretold specifics about the COVID-19 pandemic.
One such instance was from the 2007 'The Simpsons Movie' where Tom Hanks, lending his voice, was placed under quarantine by the US government. Strikingly, 13 years later, Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson confirmed they were in quarantine following a COVID-19 diagnosis.
Another example that got people talking was a 1993 episode featuring a virus called the "Osaka flu," which originated in Japan and brought Springfield to its knees. Clips from these episodes became fodder for memes and, unfortunately, racist propaganda.
'It's Mainly Just Coincidence' - Setting the Record Straight on 'The Simpsons' Predictions
Oakley, who co-wrote the "Osaka flu" episode, came forward to dispel these apparent connections. "I don't like it being used for nefarious purposes. The idea that anyone misappropriates it to make coronavirus seem like an Asian plot is terrible," he said, firmly dismissing any insinuations of the virus being an 'Asian plot'.
He added that the "Osaka flu" storyline was inspired by the Hong Kong flu of 1968. Oakley said, "It was just supposed to be a quick joke about how the flu got to Springfield... It is cartoonish."
Oakley was also quick to rebut claims that 'The Simpsons' repeatedly predicted the future. He explained that it was primarily a coincidence because the episodes are so old, and history does indeed repeat itself. Most of these episodes, he said, were based on events from the Sixties, Seventies, or Eighties.
While 'The Simpsons' isn't alone in being considered prophetic entertainment, the pandemonium around the series' "predictions" certainly stirred up a storm. But it's vital to remember - in the immortal words of Bill Oakley - that "history repeats itself."
(Several parts of the text in this article, including the title, were generated with the help of an AI tool.)