The Real ‘Simpsons’ Whacking Day Is Still Going Strong
The residents of Springfield sure have had a lot of terrible ideas over the years — from building a monorail, to allowing a tire fire to continuously burn for several decades, to allowing the Bush family to take up residence. But one of the most heinous Springfieldian practices we’ve seen throughout the course of The Simpsons is Whacking Day, that annual celebration when all the townspeople gather to roundup and brutalize thousands of snakes, sometimes with special guests like soul music icon Barry White.
Unlike some of Springfield’s more fantastical traditions, Whacking Day actually has its roots in a 100 percent real, non-animated event. According to long-time Simpsons showrunner Al Jean, the idea first came from writer George Meyer, an animal rights advocate who “wanted to do an episode about this actual ritual in a Texas town … where one day a year they whack rattlesnakes with sticks.”
Seemingly the town Meyer was referring to is Sweetwater, Texas, which holds an annual “Rattlesnake Roundup.” According to one local, “It’s the biggest event in this town every year. … It’s very much part of our culture.” (No word on whether or not it was created as an excuse to beat up the Irish.)
The affair reportedly involves hunters gathering up the snakes and leading them into a coliseum, at which point the slithering creatures are killed and “multiple parts of the snakes are harvested.” The Rattlesnake Roundup has been blasted by critics as cruel and “barbaric” — with some arguing that the hunters’ practices may actually drive the snakes they don’t catch “closer to residential populations.”
It is kind of nuts that the residents of Springfield, who are mostly inept and comically ignorant, changed their ways and abolished Whacking Day 30 years ago. But even though it’s been three decades since that episode aired, the real-life Texas equivalent is somehow still going strong — they even held the event in March 2020, despite the pandemic. Seriously, how is it possible that the goddamn snake-murdering carnival outlived Barry White?
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