Posts Tagged ‘Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy


Quote of the Day

“Alright, now all we need is a name.” – Lisa Simpson
“How ’bout Blabbermouth: The Jerky Doll For Jerks?” – Bart Simpson
“How ’bout Minerva, after the Roman goddess of wisdom.” – Lisa Simpson
“Not enough commercial appeal.” – Stacy Lovell
“Wendy Windbag? Ugly Doris? Hortense the Muleface Doll!” – Bart Simpson
“I think we should name her after Lisa. We’ll call her Lisa Lionheart.” – Stacy Lovell
“No, Loudmouth Lisa! Stupid Lisa Garbageface! I can’t stand this any longer, somebody please pat attention to me!” – Bart Simpson


Quote of the Day

“I’m thirsty. Eww, what smells like mustard? There sure are a lot of ugly people in your neighborhood. Ooh, look at that one!” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson


Quote of the Day

“Though it was unusual to spend twenty-eight minutes reporting on a doll, this reporter found it impossible to stop talking. It’s just really fascinating news, folks. Good night. . . . Oh, and the President was arrested for murder, more on that tomorrow night or you can turn to another channel. . . . Oh, do not turn to another channel.” – Kent Brockman


Quote of the Day

“Change what she says. It’s your company.” – Lisa Simpson
“Not since I was forced out in 1974. They said my way of thinking just wasn’t cost effective.” – Stacy Lovell
“That’s awful.” – Lisa Simpson
“Well, that, and I was funneling profits to the Vietcong.” – Stacy Lovell


Quote of the Day

“Holy smokes, that’s it! From now on I’m thinking, acting, and looking young! And I’m gonna start with a bottle of Buzz cola! . . . Ow! The bubbles are burning my tongue!” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson


Quote of the Day


“That’s it! I’m calling the company.” – Lisa Simpson
“Hello, you have reached the Malibu Stacy customer service center. If you have a complaint about Malibu Stacy’s appearance or odor, press one. If you’ve given Malibu Stacy a haircut and need to order a replacement head, press two.” – Malibu Stacy Customer Service Recording


Quote of the Day


“Look, Achy Breaky Stacy for a dollar ninety-nine!” – Little Girl #1
“Live from the Improv Stacy’s only eighty-nine cents!” – Little Girl #2
“Ewww.” – Little Girls


Quote of the Day

Lisa vs Malibu Stacy11

“A hush falls over the General Assembly as Stacy approaches the podium to deliver what will no doubt be a stirring and memorable address.” – Lisa Simpson
“I wish they taught shopping in school.” – Talking Malibu Stacy


Quote of the Day

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“It’s awful being a kid, no one listens to you.” – Lisa Simpson
“It’s rotten being old, no one listens to you.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson
“I’m a white male, age 18-49, everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are.” – Homer Simpson


Primetime Cartoons: Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy

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“Mom!  We can go on the factory tour and I can complain in person!” – Lisa Simpson
“Honey, you’re not going to throw red paint at the executives, are you?  The Keebler people were very upset.” – Marge Simpson

Welcome to tonight’s open thread, or live blog, or live watch, or whatever it is we’re doing for the Season 5 episode “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy”.  The comment section is open, the Twitter hashtag is #NewHat, and feel free to quote things as you see fit.  Also, please tell us, during or after, how you think we can improve this.  As I said earlier in the week, I really don’t know how this wants to work or what I’m doing.  But it seems like there’s enough Simpsons fans on-line that watching together should be more fun than watching apart, and suggestions are welcome.  Now let’s forget our troubles with a big bowl of strawberry ice cream.

Edit 9:00pm: Well, that was fun.  It was a controlled disaster, but first times of anything usually are.  (I’m reminded of Jay Sherman reminiscing about “the agony of my first public shower”.)  Dave and I got way out of sync on Twitter, I foolishly thought my wireless would be fine if I sat out in the yard instead of closer to the hub (it died with about three minutes to go), I got started late because I had to reboot my laptop, and running these episodes with no commercials makes quoting and commenting on the fly hard to do.  On the other hand, I got to watch The Simpsons, which I am pretty much never unhappy about.  Thanks to those who watched and commented along, here and on Twitter, and we’ll try this again next week.  

The Joy of Sect13


Quote of the Day

Can't Beat Big Business

“Trust in yourself and you can achieve anything.” – Lisa Lionheart
“You know, if we get through to just that one little girl, it’ll all be worth it.” – Lisa Simpson
“Yes, particularly if that little girl happens to pay forty-six thousand dollars for that doll.” – Stacy Lovell
“What?” – Lisa Simpson
“Oh nothing.  Kudos to you, Lisa.  Kudos.” – Stacy Lovell

Happy 20th Anniversary to “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy”!  Original airdate 17 February 1994.


Quote of the Day

Lisa vs Malibu Stacy8

“Lisa, ordinarily I’d say you should stand up for what you believe in, but you’ve been doing that an awful lot lately.” – Marge Simpson
“Yeah, you made us march in that gay rights parade.” – Bart Simpson
“And we can’t watch FOX cause they own those chemical weapons plants in Syria.” – Homer Simpson


Mike Reiss Takes You Behind the Scenes

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“Welcome to Enchantment Lane, where all the parts come together and Malibu Stacy is born.  Some folks say there’s a little touch of fairy dust in the air.” – Tour Lady
“Aw, crap, there’s a clog in the torso chute!  Leroy, get your ass in gear!” – Assembly Line Worker
“Shut your hole.” – Leroy

On Monday this week, Mike Reiss gave a speech at Virginia Tech.  This comes from an interview conducted by the student paper in advance of that:

CT: What is your involvement with the show?

I’m currently a consultant. I go in every Wednesday, I fly in there – there’s nothing special about Wednesday, it runs like a factory and its always in production. Every Wednesday I just come in and sort of step onto the assembly line and help out. The show is written by 8-10 people sitting in a room just throwing out ideas and jokes. Every Wedneday I’m just one more guy who goes in to help it.

CT: Are you considered something of an elder statesmen around there because you were since the show’s inception?

Reiss: Sometimes I feel that way. Sometimes I feel like they’ll put in one of my jokes just because I’m an old man and not because its particularly funny. I’ll get embarrassed sometimes, like I’ll throw in a joke where I know its not that good and they’ll put it in. People are very nice to me, it’s just a nice job. I think people – it’s the rare show on tv where the average tenure there is about 10 or 12 years. People like it, we all get along on, we all respect each other.

I don’t have any direct experience with what does or does not make for a truly great television writing room, but that kind of polite comity doesn’t exactly scream “high standards”.  The only other piece of interesting not-quite-news was about a possible movie sequel:

CT: If you do make another one do you think you’ll wait until the show has finished its run on TV?

Reiss: I think that’s the general plan, I think the day the show finally goes off the air, like a year later we’ll all going to miss it and I think then we’ll be a little more interested to do the movie.

I’d be fine with that.  The first movie wasn’t very good, but FOX is going to do something with these characters after the show goes off the air, and another movie done without the background pressure of the ongoing series would be about the best we can hope for. 

There’s more at the link.  He talks about how it was easier back in Season 3 and 4 because, “we had all the tricks and all the architecture in place but the show was new, it wasn’t like we’d done 10,000 ideas like we have now where it’s hard to find things to write about”.  But it was the part about the assembly line nature of the place letting in embarrassingly weak jokes that caught my attention. 


Quote of the Day

Stacy Lavelle

“I’m sure we can think of something together, come on!” – Lisa Simpson
“Not now, I’m too drunk.” – Stacy Lavelle
“No you’re not . . . uh, I’ll come back tomorrow.” – Lisa Simpson


Reading Digest: All Hail “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy” Edition

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“No, Celeste, I mean the things she says are sexist.” – Lisa Simpson
“Lisa said a dirty word!” – Girls

This week we have two people who watched “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy” for a class and had to blog about it.  Isn’t the internet wonderful?  “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy” is just about the quintessential “watch for a class” episode when it comes time to study female portrayals in popular media.  But if I may make a suggestion to the syllabus writers of the world, don’t overlook “Dukerella”, the penultimate episode of The Critic.  Presumably because the DVD revenue is miniscule, FOX’s copyright killjoys don’t patrol YouTube for it nearly as aggressively as they do for The Simpsons, so you can actually watch the whole thing (as of this writing, anyway).  In the episode, Miranda, Alice’s blond bombshell sister, moves in and attempts to flirt and charm her way to love and money in New York City.  It’s chalk full of jokes and satires of pointless female competition, sibling rivalry, and the general unfairness of the universe.  Some of the more choice lines:

Penny (Alice’s adorable little daughter): Momma, Aunt Randa’s gonna teach me to giggle stupidly to make men do my bidding. 


Miranda: Please, Alice, this is my last chance at happiness.  You’ve got so much, a beautiful daughter, a good job, your boyfriend with his unique interpretation of masculinity.  All right, I have to admit it, I’m jealous of you.
Alice:  You, of me?  Yes!

There’s much more, and if you get to the 10 minute mark you can see the street harassment/Supreme Court joke that has made it completely impossible for me to ever read anything about Learned Hand without tittering to myself.  Of course, we’ve also got some other stuff.  There’s a video tour worthy of Troy McClure, bad metaphors, excellent usage, a demonstration of the power of Simpsons Wiki, and some excellent fan art. 


the men of my dreams – Fan made clown images, including an awesomely creepy and bloodshot Krusty. 

The Simpsons – College essay #1.

The Simpsons Connection – College essay #2.

Who is this Simpsons Character? – This one’s a package deal with . . .

Mystery Solved – . . . this one.  I always just think of him as the sarcastic guy, but I guess he’s got a name. 

“I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer.” -Homer Simpson – Three weeks in a row for Freakoutville. 

Video Tour of a Google Data Center – This is a promotional video made by Google to reassure paranoid IT people about putting their oh so precious data on Google Apps, but it’s basically engineer porn.  In this case it comes with fake Troy McClure sayings, of which my personal favorite is either “The Decapitation of Ask Jeeves” or “Lycos: Delicious But Deadly”. 

Just not the big red one – This is a blog called “Bad Metaphors”.  This particular post has Homer saying:

“A nuclear reactor is a lot like a woman. You just have to read the manual and press the right buttons.”

It’s never easy to tell, but I’m pretty sure Homer says “button”, not “buttons”.  Singular makes it work better as a sexual metaphor, which the title of the linked post can also be interpreted as.  God bless that button. 

The apprentice presidential candidate – This goes against my general policy of ignoring instead of enabling attention junkies, but excellent usage is excellent usage:

Trump — he of the big mouth, the bigger ego and, to quote no less an authority on coiffes than Apu from “The Simpsons,” the “hair by Frank Lloyd Wright” — is teasing the media about seeking the 2012 Republican presidential nomination,

Meghan McCain Interviews Trump, Shows That She’s a Nitwit – Here we can see two products of nepotism congratulating each other.  Normally I’d ignore it,  but, having already mentioned the Hairpiece once, in for a penny in for a pound.  And excellent usage is still excellent usage:

There’s a great episode of The Simpsons where Mr. Burns decides to run for mayor and, as a campaign stunt, has dinner at the Simpsons’ house in front of TV cameras.

The entire thing is, of course, completely choreographed by Mr. Burns, who has supplied the Simpson family with the questions they’re supposed to ask him.

Lisa’s scripted question: “Mr Burns, your campaign seems to have the momentum of a run-away freight train. Why are you so popular?”

Mr. Burns responds: "Oh, a tough question, but a fair one. Lisa, there’s no single answer. Some voters respond to my integrity. Others are more impressed by my incorruptibility. Still others like my determination to lower taxes and the bureaucrats in the state capital can put that in their pipes and smoke it!"

The Burns quote is off by little tiny bits, but I don’t care.

Tron (1982) Blu-ray Movie Review – And finally, a little excellent usage that agrees with us:

There’s a line in an old episode of The Simpsons (back when y’know.. it was good), where Homer asks an assembled throng "Um, it’s like, uh… did anyone see the movie "Tron?" – The entire cast say no.


Slapped Together

Chalkboard - Loan-a-Lisa

“As you may know, I might not be around much longer.  So I’ve decided to give you your inheritance before I die, that way I can see you enjoy it.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson

Frankenstein’s Monster had less obvious stitch marks where the pieces were sewn together than this episode.  We’ve got Lisa and Nelson getting involved (“Lisa’s Date with Density”), Marge splurging on something and returning it (“Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield”), Grampa passing on money to kick start the plot (“Lisa vs. Malibu Stacey”), the kids doling out their inherited money (“Bart the Fink”), and someone wanting to use found money to rent a carpet cleaner (“Bart on the Road”).  Even the Itchy & Scratchy bit wasn’t immune, with Scratchy getting married and living happily ever after, Itchy blowing him up in the grave, and Itchy vacuuming up his ghost.  And no, the irony of watching an episode about squandered inheritance squandering its own inheritance didn’t make it any more enjoyable. 

Of course, the episode had a lot of problems beyond those.  The b-plot was nonsense, had no ending, and had Jerkass Homer at his worst.  The a-plot kind of had an ending, but mostly it just petered out after blowing through its various guest voices. 

The numbers are in and, sadly, they have gone slightly up.  I hate when that happens.  Last night’s parade of unrelated bits was seen by 8.59 million people.  That’s up from last week, though it’s still low by the fall standards of the show.  I’m not sure how much of that is Mark Zuckerberg related; though I don’t think it’s the least bit coincidental that this episode came out the same week as The Social Network.


Reading Digest: Bizarre Dolls Edition

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“Don’t you people see anything wrong with what Malibu Stacy says?” – Lisa Simpson
“Oh, there’s something wrong with what my Stacy says.” – Celeste
“My Spidey-sense is tingling!  Anybody call for a web slinger?” – Malibu Stacey

WordPress went down again for a little while today, and that was after it ate the “City of New York vs. Homer Simpson” Crazy Noises post last night.  (This is why backups are important.)  I am outraged at not getting proper value for the nothing a month that I pay them!  Oh, right.  Seriously, WordPress kicks ass.  Why we ever started this thing on Blogger is beyond me.  But if anyone notices any posts missing, i.e. you see it in a feed reader but the link doesn’t work, please e-mail us.  Thanks.

In actual Simpsons related news, there are two links to eBay this week that feature rather odd Simpsons dolls.  Once is a Maggie with a giant head, the other is Grandpa wearing a soccer uniform and . . . slippers.  Huh.  We’ve also got video games, lots of usage, cool sneakers, and a well rounded young high schooler I’m sure will go far. 


SNES Longplay [014] The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare – This is a fifty-six minute YouTube video of someone playing all the way through the Super Nintendo game “Bart’s Nightmare”.  I never played that game so I don’t find it all that interesting, but that’s just me.

**Grampa Simpson**Simpsons Figure**Burger King Toy** – Abe kinda looks ready for the World Cup here, and no one but him can rock the rarely seen shin guards and slippers combo. 

How Did I Never Notice This Before??? – Nelson and Barney, actually related?  The image speaks for itself. 

Maggie Simpson Doll with Stand – This is an eBay link for a Maggie doll that has very bizarre proportions. 

Subject: Our tough-guy-in-chief – Why didn’t I think of this?:

In response to your stated preference for the genuine, emotionally reserved Obama to the fake, "kick ass" Obama on display earlier this week, may I offer Bart Simpson’s response to Homer’s efforts to be a more active and engaged parent: "No offense, Homer, but your half-assed underparenting was a lot more fun than your half-assed overparenting."

Quote is dead on, excellent usage. 

The 10 funniest dead guys we dearly miss – Phil Hartman is on here, and there’s YouTube of “Meat and You” that’s reversed left-to-right in places.  Kinda weird.   

#0010: Mature Cartoons – Then it is agreed, cartoons are awesome. 

BHS class essayist speech: Chelsea Rose – This was written by a graduating high school student:

As a Latin scholar, I thought it appropriate to leave you with a quote from Homer… Simpson, “If something’s hard to do, then it’s not worth doing.”

I am quite certain that the original Iliad/Odyssey Homer did not speak Latin.  However, that is still excellent usage.  The kids are alright. 

I’ll Bet Smithers Will Open Your Box – I’ve never used Farmville, so I don’t know if this is funny or not.  The original scene is definitely funny. 

Entertaining – This is just an animated .gif of Homer in the Ironic Punishment Division of Hell Labs.  It’s mesmerizing.  (Also, nice WordPress theme.) 

The ANY Key – You already know what this is, all you need me to tell you is that it’s in still image form. 

The Wonder States- Using Deductive Reasoning to Determine the Setting of The Wonder Years, My Name is Earl, and The Simpsons – As Springfield is self evidently nowhere, I’ve never understood people’s need to know where it is.  I would only add that this seems to miss a few states:

I can rule out the states of Utah, Colorado, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and Alaska because on at least one occurrence a Simpson character has made a reference to these states regarding them as a different state from their own.

Don’t forget Michigan (which they drive to in “Oh, Brother Where Art Thou?”), Missouri (which Bart drives through in “Bart on the Road”), Hawaii (one of the freak states), Florida (America’s Wang and a place where the Top Hat channel isn’t allowed), and . . . oh hell, just go to SNPP

Batgirl #11 – Review – Using “Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part 1” to criticize a comic book:

Secondly, remember the Simpsons 2-parter “Who Killed Mr. Burns”? In it, Smithers says of Burns: “And when he tried to steal our sunlight, he crossed that line between everyday villainy and cartoonish super-villainy.” The Calculator, in this issue of Batgirl and the last, is cartoonish super-villainy.

Excellent usage.  Also, this Calculator fellow sounds like a rank amateur compared to Dr. Colossus. 

A World Cup of excitement – YouTube of today’s Quote of the Day. 

She’s got both hands, in her pockets. – There are people in this world who have not seen “Stark Raving Dad”:

Later we went to my place and we stumbled upon an episode of The Simpson’s “Stark Raving Dad.” She hadn’t seen it!! Always so funny when Homer goes “well, of course I know who you are.” Aww, Homie.

I blame Zombie Simpsons.  The actual quote is, “Oh, of course I’ve heard of you.  I mean, you’d have to be living under a rock not to know – what’d you say your name was?”.  Nevertheless, the bonus points for getting someone to watch “Stark Raving Dad” for the first time means that this still counts as excellent usage.

There is a good chance you’re getting cooler. – I can assure everyone that I am not, never have been, and never will be cool.  Regardless, this properly quotes the end of “Homerpalooza” on coolness, and that’s excellent usage. 

Oh those crazy Asians – They sure know how to humilitate dogs – Scroll way down for a sweet Mr. Sparkle image. 

Anime,Why It Is Better Than American Cartoons! – Yet another reason why Zombie Simpsons needs to die:

Now I’m not trying to say there is anything wrong with those cartoons’ I mean look at The Simpson’s. It’s one of the longest running cartoons in American history. They must be doing something right, but these cartoons don’t take much thought process to watch. There is no real plot to follow, while some of the humor might have an adult content. That’s about as far as the depth goes, there is no internal struggle and the characters never grow. I mean, the Simpson’s have been on for over 20 years, and Bart Simpson is still in the same grade.(Here I thought I did bad in school)

Nowadays there’s no plot to follow, but that wasn’t always the case.  This is what I’m talking about when I say that Zombie Simpsons has tarnished The Simpsons

Pop art customs – That is a pretty damn cool Simpsons sneaker. 

Competence over Soundbites: Our Meeting with State Treasurer Jones-Potter – This is the rare case of excellent usage paired with poor usage.  First up, they get the slogan right:

Homer premises his campaign on the slogan, “Can’t someone else do it?,” and promises that the city sanitation workers will now wear uniforms, provide round-the-clock garbage service and do all the cleaning around the house.

That’s excellent usage.  This, however, is not:

The citizens of Springfield, seeing the error of their ways in electing Homer in the first place, beg the competent former Sanitation Officer to return, and he says “nuts to you, it’s your mess, you clean it up.”

The actual quote goes, “You know, I’m not much on speeches, but, it’s so gratifying to leave you wallowing in the mess you’ve made.  You’re screwed.  Thank you, bye.”  So that’s poor usage.  Hey, one outta two ain’t bad. 

Destroyed (aka from Wit to Sh*t) – “I saw some awful things in ’Nam, but you really have to wonder at the mentality that would desecrate a helpless puma.” – Principal Skinner

The Simpsons, “Hurricane Neddy” – This is a bit more generous towards “Hurricane Neddy” than I tend to be, but it’s very thoughtful.  And it contains this:

And yet, I find myself oft reading opinions on The Simpsons and finding interesting thoughts and tidbits from the most humble of reviews (and this is from a man who, for the first eight years of the show, listened to every commentary, scratched up every disc of the dvds, and can recite every musical number by heart). Why, after so long, can people still write compelling reviews of The Simpsons? Because after twenty years, the show still feels incredibly urgent. The Simpsons hits a certain “sweet spot” in the brain’s emotional center that triggers laughter, sentimentality, and deep reflection in one fell swoop. The Simpsons itself made up of fantastic paradox: it’s socially relevant yet timeless, culturally specific yet universal, perversely cynical and unabashedly hopeful.

I like the indirect swipe at Zombie Simpsons, and that last sentence is dead solid perfect.  Also the blog is called “Here Comes Two”, so that’s good as well. 

Why Ke$ha Makes American Music Look Bad – I remain quite apathetic towards Kesha and that goofy opening.  I just wanted to end on a high note by agreeing with this:

it’s really evident how low The Simpsons have become that their desperate play for viewers involves using a song about drunken club sluts,

How low, indeed. 


Quote of the Day

Lisa vs Malibu Stacy4

“The good lord let’s us grow old for a reason: to gain the wisdom to find fault with everything he’s made!” – Abe “Grandpa” Simpson


Zombie Simpsons Commercial to Air During Super Bowl (Updated)

Coke Zombie Simpsons Super Bowl Ad

“The bubbles are burning my tongue!” – Abe “Grandpa” Simpson

It’s late January and that means that it’s time for the annual torrent of news about Super Bowl commercials.  How much do they cost?  How clever are they?  Will the NFL franchise that drafts Tim Tebow wish he had been aborted?  Well, Coke is going to have an ad that sounds like the plot of a Zombie Simpsons episode:

In one commercial starring characters from The Simpsons, Mr. Burns has lost his millions and only looks at the bright side of life after convenience store clerk Apu gives him a Coke.

That sounds about right.  Oh and Coke’s got some stupid tie in with Facebook where you can see a “20-second preview” of the ad if you help them with their marketing.  To entice people they’re even promising to make a piffling donation to charity.  Get bent, Coke. 

Update: A wise man once remarked that “pimpin’ ain’t easy”.  Apparently neither is on-line marketing.  Less than ninety minutes after I published a post that contains an abortion joke and concludes with “Get bent, Coke” a marketing firm working for Coca-Cola contacted us.  Their motivation was pretty clear, “Someone on the internet mentioned our ad campaign!  Quickly, send them further information in a formulaic e-mail, maybe they’ll help publicize this.”  So eager were they to enlist us and our everyman credibility that they did not take the time to consider the actual content of the post.  An “Oh, shit” moment ensued.  Herewith is the hilarious sequence of events:

3:35pm EST: Our e-mail address receives a press release with links to promotional images from someone whose e-mail signature reads “on behalf of Coca-Cola”.  Amongst other unintentional comedy the press release refers to the commercials as “animated billboards”, truly a masterpiece of Marketspeak. 

3:48pm EST: Our e-mail address receives a second message.  The e-mail signature is now just the sender’s first name.  I’ve no desire to get this person in trouble, everybody’s gotta make bread somehow, so I’m not going to reprint the entirety of the text.  Just know that it was two sentences long, apologized twice, and contained an obvious (and probably panic induced) contradiction about why the first e-mail had been sent. 

4:00pm EST: “Recall” requests come in for both e-mails.  This is my favorite part.  I’m no expert but my understanding of the “recall” feature is that in order for it to work 1) both the sender and receiver have to be using Microsoft Outlook, 2) both have to be using an Exchange server, AND 3) both copies of Outlook must have the feature activated.  Our e-mail address is  Savvy internet marketing does not, apparently, require knowledge about how the e-mail system works. 

I love the internet. 


Marketing Horrorshow Coming Soon to a Vagina Near You!

Lisa vs Malibu Stacy3“I want you to hear what Malibu Stacy is telling a generation of little girls.” – Lisa Simpson
“Thinking too much gives you wrinkles.” – Malibu Stacy Doll

Are you female?  Do you like being marketed to by condescending idiots?  If you answered “Yes” to the first question then the people behind Simpsons merchandise couldn’t care less about your answer to the second.  Behold the unironically stereotypical marketing push known as “Ladies of Springfield”.  Fisking time! 

20 years on and The Simpsons is still going strong. We take a look at the Ladies of Springfield licensing drive.

It may be 20 years old, but The Simpsons remains one of the most groundbreaking and innovative entertainment franchises in the world.

“Groundbreaking” in the sense that there’s nothing they won’t merchandise, or “groundbreaking” in the sense that the show has been six feet under for a long time?  I agree with one of those definitions.  This is followed by some “quick facts” which can be summed up as follows, “People still like watching the show.”  Then we get to to the heart of the matter:

With popularity for The Simpsons showing no signs of abating, and a healthy licensing and merchandising programme for the main brand, Fox launched the Ladies of Springfield brand at Brand Licensing Europe in 2008.

I must have missed that presentation at BLE 2008.  Shucks, and I thought I saw everything.

“The initiative was created due to the proven and researched popularity of The Simpsons amongst females of all ages,” explains Jennifer Buchanan, director of European licensing at Fox L&M. “The audience profile of the series shows an almost equal balance of males and females. Fox L&M identified an opportunity to harness the popular appeal of the show and target the female consumer by creating an umbrella brand that brings together the female characters with their own look and feel.”

That translates from Marketspeak roughly as, “Women weren’t buy as much crap as we thought they should so we’re going to cram girly stuff down their throats.  Get me my pink color wheel!” 

A style guide was developed featuring Lisa, Marge and Maggie – as well as the other key female characters such as Patty and Selma – with product launching a year later.

Style guide?  I’m intrigued.  Can I suggest one for the Zombie Simpsons writers?

“Fox has worked closely with licensees to drive the Ladies of Springfield initiative and with their ongoing support we have seen the programme steadily grow across the UK and Europe,” Buchanan continues. “We launched apparel into retail for autumn/winter 2009. This first wave of the brand initiative took us into tween fashion along with support in nightwear. Key retail partners were Bershka, Primark, Bhs, Tesco, George and Next.

This might just be me, but I find the juxtaposition of implicitly martial terminology (“first wave”, “brand initiative”) with “tween fashion” a wee bit telling.  Parents of Europe, we are about to attack your pre-pubescent daughters!  Surrender or be destroyed! 

“Bridging the gap between fashion and sport, a range of female specialist cycling shirts were launched in Evans Cycles.”

“Cycling shirts”, because nothing says “high end specialty fitness” like Patty & Selma.  But it’s about to get so much worse:

The programme will continue to roll out into stationery, soft furnishings and housewares.

Let me consult this copy of “Ladies Home Journal” from 1954.  Yep these are in there.

In 2011, Buchanan says that Fox is aiming to make Marge the ambassador for Mother’s Day – as Homer has become for Father’s Day – as well as driving opportunities for seasonal event POS for Mother’s Day, Valentines and Christmas.

Wait, wait, slow down there.  When did Homer become the “ambassador” for Father’s Day?  For that matter, what the hell does an “ambassador” for a made up holiday do?  Also, I’m pretty sure “POS” in this context is supposed to mean “Points of Sale”.  But it works much better if you use “Pieces of Shit”.  See:

as well as driving opportunities for seasonal event Pieces of Shit for Mother’s Day, Valentines and Christmas.

Not only does that make more sense, but it’s a more accurate description and reads better too. 

The strength of the main character’s personalities, their individual look and imagery are the main drivers of the LOS licensing programme.

They did it again!  This time I’m going with “Lots of Shit” instead of “Ladies of Springfield”. 

Marge, for example, is being positioned as a domestic goddess who keeps the family together, with product being targeted at over 18s. Lisa, meanwhile, is ‘Princess Prodigy” aimed at six to nine year-olds, tween/teens and adults, while Maggie has cute appeal and is aimed at the same demographics as Lisa.

Sadly 1-year-olds cannot make purchasing decisions on their own, so we’re going to target the baby at the same crowd as the 8-year-old.  And “Princess Prodigy”?  That’s an oxymoron.  While I understand the appeal of “princess” style marketing (because it means that your little girl gets to feel important and protected and oh-so-special) it might be useful to point out to her that in real life princesses are inbred dilettantes whose primary role is to serve as a unwilling family brood mare.  Just sayin’. 

Buchanan adds: “Maggie and Lisa both work well on apparel and accessories. Marge is ideal for Mother’s Day opportunities for gift, homewares and social expressions.

Social expressions”?  Like a sign that says “Fuck You And Your Sexist Marketing”? 

In addition, Marge’s recent appearance on the cover of Playboy is not only testament to the brand [it was the first time an animated character has been featured on the front cover], but a big statement for Marge herself. Not only is she a domestic goddess, but she’s a Playboy pin up.

You know what else she is?  A cartoon.  But never mind that, ladies please commence comparing your bodies to a drawing. 

From all accounts we are in the age of the ‘cougar’ and Patty and Selman who “Will Marry for Money” are perfect for humorous product applications to capture this current social trend.”

Okay, “Selman” is probably just a typo.  Even if we set aside the stupidity of the “cougar” as a concept, it’s not exactly Patty & Selma that would spring to mind as examples.  But no fad can go unused, I suppose. 

This year will see the Lots of Shit programme roll out strategically across stationery, bags and homewares, with other categories to follow. International Greetings is due to launch new back to school lines, DNC will have lunch bags and drinkware ranges available from spring, while Character World has developed Maggie duvet sets.

I made one change the quote above.  See if you can spot it.  

Moving on, and Fox L&M is looking to sign new partners in creative play, housewares and gift, as well as developing the healthcare, beauty and jewellery sectors. There will also be a strong focus on Marge for Mother’s Day in 2011.

Now we’re talking.  Let no effeminate product category escape!  Though I must admit I am curious about “creative play”.  Is that like art supplies and card games, or is it more like sex swings and dildos?  And can’t it be both?

“The continued TV support and worldwide recognition of The Simpsons characters is a firm foundation from which to grow the LOS in terms of new product categories, style guides and breadth of appeal and market,” says Buchanan. “Marge, Lisa and Maggie have the potential to be as popular as Homer and Bart, creating a fun male-female brand offering.”

Oh that first sentence is a dagger, “continued TV support”, the true motivation behind Zombie Simpsons.  Though I can’t help but be amused by an ostensibly equality minded goal like “a fun male-female brand offering” being achieved through rapacious exploitation of every conceivable female stereotype this side of a lesbian biker.  

So, where does Buchanan see the Ladies of Springfield in five years time? “Lisa and Maggie will be firmly established as leading girl characters from teens and tweens across key market categories such as toys, electronic, gifting and apparel, while Marge inspired gifting, homewares and greetings ranges will be firm favourites at retail for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Licensing opportunities for secondary characters Patty, Selma and Edna will also have been developed.”

I don’t find any of the above any more or less offensive than the rest of the crappy merchandise FOX has cranked out over the years.  In the end it’s all just more overpriced landfill fodder and I see no point in worrying about it.  But with the exception of the bizarrely out of place “cycling shirts” every single product or category of products mentioned here is as nakedly sexist as you could make it.  Which is not to say that “housewares” and duvet covers are illegitimate, or even that women are less likely to buy them, only that the exclusion of any other kind of product is as unsurprising as it is lazy. 

It’s all the more tragic when it comes to slapping Lisa’s image on these things since she’s as feminist, scientific and skeptical a character as you could ask for.  Where are the Lisa Simpson beach microscopes?  Or the Lisa Simpson saxophone stuff?  Or the Lisa Simpson hockey pads?  Or the Lisa Simpson line of “I like you as a friend, now please leave me alone” merchandise? 

Lisa Simpson is a globally recognized symbol that could, with just the tiniest bit of creativity, be used to market an enormous number of products that don’t often see branding of this type.  But the FOX licensing people have instead chosen to stagger forward and do the same lame old shit that has always been done.  I didn’t really expect anything different, and the show always had a tense relationship with all the crap that it was used to sell, but this is beyond parody.  Or at least it would be if The Simpsons hadn’t viciously parodied it already sixteen fucking years ago. 


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