This Classic ‘Simpsons’ Episode Plays A Lot Darker with a Late-Stage Capitalism Reinterpretation

No ethical consumption under capitalism — and, in Cypress Creek, no ethical labor, either
This Classic ‘Simpsons’ Episode Plays A Lot Darker with a Late-Stage Capitalism Reinterpretation

Simpsons Twitter thinks that Hank Scorpio is scarily believable as an evil American CEO — good thing Elon Musk is South African.

Back in the so-called “Golden Age” of The Simpsons, the kind of cultural satire that typified the greatest animated comedy of all time was, itself, timeless, subtle and universal. That delicate dose of playful sarcasm coupled with the most incredible TV writing staff of its time created so many classic episodes that still hold up as mirrors American culture, as opposed to the kind of obnoxiously topical plot lines that currently make it to airtime — this past Simpsons Season 35 opener was an episode based around the hot-button issue of militarized policing that tackled the issue with all the tact and subtlety of a baton smashing into the audience’s skulls.

But back in 1996, the writers’ room of The Simpsons contained geniuses like John Swartzwelder, who penned the classic “You Only Move Twice,” which features one of the prescient and precise criticisms of American capitalism in cartoon history — or so say some prominent members of The Simpsons’ online community.

As any die-hard Simpson fan can recall, “You Only Move Twice” features Homer uprooting his family to move to the cozy, affluent and entirely ill-fitting town of Cypress Creek, a company town called home by the mysterious, insidious and entirely employee-friendly Globex Corporation and its charismatic leader Hank Scorpio. The audience quickly learns that Scorpio is a James Bond-level megalomaniac capable of wiping out any country on the planet (nobody ever says Italy), but Homer is blissfully unaware of his boss evil nature as he rises to become one of Globexs best workers.

The subtext that the only path to workplace satisfaction is to assist in the destruction of the world is certainly a modern read on the episode, though the shoe fits depressingly well. Companies like BlackRock, Lockheed Martin and Shell consistently score highly in workplace satisfaction as they profit from the destruction of the housing market, the developing world and the entire planet respectively. High wages, beneficial work-life balance and a trip to the hammock district can make any American worker turn on the rest of the globe, apparently.

Its doubtful that either Swartzwelder or Greg Daniels, who came up with the story idea, ever explicitly intended for @Srirachachaus interpretation to be a popular reading of “You Only Move Twice.” In fact, in the case of Swartzwelder, theres a high chance that hed absolutely hate this take on the episode if he ever splurged on an internet connection. The reclusive writer was known to be a libertarian-to-hardcore-conservative by the rest of the Simpsons staff, and, in the Season Eight DVD commentary, David X. Cohen described Swartzwelder going off on an “anti-environmentalist” rant in which he complained that the planet had too many rainforests.

If anything, Swartzwelder, like Homer, probably considers Hank Scorpio to be a pretty decent guy. After all, would a bad man buy his ex-employee the Denver Broncos?


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