We Can Only Be Two Things In Life: A Milhouse Or A Ralph
It's no exaggeration to say that The Simpsons has influenced every writer you've ever read on this site (or any other comedy site). So this week, Cracked is taking a closer look at the town of Springfield and all of our favorite residents ...
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Entire books have been written about the philosophy of The Simpsons, with good reason -- hell, Bart Simpson's Guide to Life remains the best spiritual guide ever published. But these treatises always neglect to mention one important insight into the human condition brought on by this series: the Milhouse/Ralph dichotomy. See, everyone at some point has moments of misfortune, like maybe you accidentally glued your ear to your elbow ...
Or maybe your best friend put you on the Most Wanted list, and the FBI chases you, leaving you no choice but to jump off a dam and break your glasses ...
We've all been there. But, although these situations might look similar, there's a big difference between a Milhouse misfortune and a Ralph misfortune. When you're the Milhouse of a situation, it's because bad luck has fallen on your lap, usually in the form of a bully covering you in bumper stickers, placing you in a shopping cart, and pushing you down a very steep hill, for no reason in particular.
Or maybe you get sent to the hospital and have your ears packed with gauze for passing a friend's note to someone else, or the same friend from before switches his permanent record with yours and ruins your future employment opportunities at age 10, or you get hit on the face by several hockey pucks and lose your teeth, or a billionaire cripples you to motivate his football team.
On the other hand, a Ralph is usually the cause of their own failures, be it through excessive paste eating, leaping through windows, picking your nose until it bleeds, juicing, jumping headfirst into trash cans, trying to cut your own finger off for "betraying" you, or simply stabbing yourself.
Life is stacked against a Milhouse. In the show, nature, in its wisdom, saw it fit to make him legally blind and allergic to honey, wheat, holly, nectarine, mistletoe, dairy, non-dairy, his own tears, and the red part of candy canes. On the other hand, Ralph has to go out of his way to suffer strange bodily reactions by eating toxic fruit, crayons, Play-Doh, lamps, knobs, power cables, and anything edible or non-edible that comes his way. Ralph willingly eats worms; Milhouse opens his mouth and unwittingly has nine live rats jump inside. Milhouse gets trapped in small enclosures by other kids and is unable to leave as a hillbilly uses it as a toilet; Ralph stands still and drinks gutter water until his body inflates and explodes (he was okay by the next episode).
In other words, you're the Milhouse of a bad situation when you're there due to circumstances beyond your control, and you're the Ralph when your dumb ass got itself into it. The most unfair part? Milhouses are usually acutely aware of their misfortunes and will spend years looking back and thinking about how they could have prevented them, while Ralphs remain oblivious through the worst (if they even notice it). They literally smile through the danger.
Science has yet to find a way to go from a Milhouse to a Ralph. Eating some paste couldn't hurt. (NOTE: Our legal team wants you to know that yes, it can.)
Top image: 20th Television