Insanely, all of this was unbeknownst to the original pranksters (dubbed the "Bum Bar Bastards"), who didn't clue in to their underground fame until 1992, when Davidson randomly heard Kurt Loder reference the tapes on MTV. The tapes became so legendary that in 1993, pop culture commentator Chris Gore directed a short film based on the calls, starring the appropriately grizzled Lawrence Tierney as Red. Though contrary to boring old real life, Red actually gets to follow through on his threats and guns down the pranksters, giving them the grim ending The Simpsons was too cowardly to attempt.
So ... is Moe based on Red? The evidence certainly points to yes. The parallels between the two are overwhelming. In the Season 1 episode "Some Enchanted Evening," Bart calls the bar asking to speak to "Al Coholic" -- the same name pops up in the Tube Bar calls. According to The LA Times, Groening confessed to being a fan of the tapes, but cagily hesitated from citing them as a direct inspiration, instead calling the similarities a "creative synchronicity." Presumably, the same way RC Cola is creatively in sync with Coke.
Much later in the series' run, we learn Moe's backstory, which is uncannily close to Red's. Red was reportedly a former heavyweight boxer; one of the few existing photos of him shows him comparing fists with Tube Bar patron and World Heavyweight Champion Rocky Marciano. In Season 8's "The Homer They Fall," we learn that Moe was also a former boxer who fought under the name Kid Gorgeous (later Kid Presentable, then Kid Gruesome, and finally, Kid Moe).
Red and Moe's shared history of pugilism may have been a coincidence, but it's hard to shake the notion that these tapes inspired The Simpsons. And since Davidson and Elmo apparently received little to no money from creatively tormenting an elderly veteran and member of the service industry (which sounds super mean, now that we think about it), you'd think one of the most successful TV series in history could maybe throw a few bucks their way? Or at the very least send them some complimentary Butterfingers or something.
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