The Simpsons Edited An Episode To Cover Up An Implied Murder
The season 7 Simpsons episode "Team Homer" starts with Bart looking at some notable magazines of the day.
"Those magazines create a dangerous amount of laughter," says Marge, and so starts the B-plot, featuring Bart's school shenanigans. Meanwhile, in the main plot, Homer's bowling team starts losing when Mr. Burns joins. Homer suspects he should never have bothered assembling a trophy case in anticipation of winning the championship, and we pan to the case, which contains an Academy Award, with the recipient's name crossed out and Homer's messily written in its place.
For that recipient, the show didn't just pick some famous actor or whoever had won the Oscar most recently. Instead, they went with the humorous specificity of choosing obscure actor Haing S. Ngor. Ngor won Best Supporting Actor in 1984 (over a decade before "Team Homer") for his role in The Killing Fields, a film taking place in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. Ngor really had lived in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, and had even spent time in a concentration camp.
The seriousness of Ngor's story didn't hurt the joke—the joke worked just fine. Only problem was, one month after "Team Homer" aired, Ngor was murdered.
Three members of a gang called the "Oriental Lazy Boyz" were convicted for the murder. It was a simple robbery, said prosecutors, but some people had doubts. Few people are robbed and murdered right in front of their own house, and the killers left a large amount of cash on him. Maybe this had been an assassination, somehow ordered by Pol Pot.
Thanks to the murder, the Simpsons joke would come off very different in reruns. Now, it sounded like they were saying Homer had murdered Ngor to steal his Oscar. We can easily imagine, say, Family Guy doing that joke with Peter instead of Homer, but that definitely wasn't what the writers had been going for. So, they edited the episode. In the version you can stream today, the name on the statue isn't Haing S. Ngor. It's Don Ameche. Ameche won the Oscar the year after Ngor, for Cocoon, and he died of natural causes a few years before the episode aired, so no one's going to accuse 1996 Homer Simpson of murdering him.
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Top image: Fox