Planet Simpson

How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation

Publisher: Vintage Canada
A smart, accessible and funny cultural analysis of The Simpsons, its inside stories and the world it reflects.

From Bart Simpson to Monty Burns, the Internet boom to the slow drowning of Tuvalu, Planet Simpson explores how one of the most popular shows in television history has changed the way we look at our bewildering times. Award-winning journalist Chris Turner delves into the most esoteric of Simpsons fansites and on-line subcultures, the show’s inside jokes, its sharpest parodies and its ongoing love-hate relationship with celebrity to reveal a rarity of literary accomplishment and pop-cultural import — something never before achieved by a cartoon.

Complementing its satirical brilliance, The Simpsons boasts a beloved cast of characters, examined here in playful and scrupulous detail: Homer, selfish, tyrannical and not too bright, but always contentedly beholden to his family; Bart, pre-teen nihilist and punk icon; Lisa, junior feminist crusader; and Marge, archetypical middle-American mother, perpetually dragging her family kicking and screaming to higher moral ground. And while the voice actors behind the regular cast have eschewed celebrity, Turner considers why a stunning host of guests — Hollywood icons and has-beens, politicians, professional athletes, poets and pop stars — have submitted themselves to the parodic whims of the Simpsons’ writers.

Intelligent and rambunctious, absorbing and comic, Planet Simpson mines this modern cultural institution for its imaginative, hilarious, but always dead-on, reflections on our world.

Excerpt from Planet Simpson

Three Fun Facts About “D’oh!”
1. The Oxford English Dictionary defines “d’oh” as “Expressing frustration at the realization that things have turned out badly or not as planned, or that one has just said or done something foolish.”

2. The origins of “D’oh!” A Tracey Ullman–era Simpsons script called for Homer to respond to an unfortunate turn of events thus: “[annoyed grunt].” Dan Castellaneta, the voice-actor who plays Homer, improvised the exclamation, “D’oh!” It stuck.

3. The godfather of “D’oh!” Dan Castellaneta freely admits that he lifted Homer’s famous yelp from James Finlayson, a Scottish actor who played a bald, cross-eyed villain in a number of Laurel & Hardy films in the 1930s. Finlayson’s annoyed grunt was a more drawn-out groan — Doooohhh! Castellaneta sped it up to create Homer’s trademark.


INTRODUCTION: The Birth of the Simpsonian Institution

I wish it was the sixties
I wish I could be happy
I wish, I wish, I wish that something would happen

—Radiohead, “The Bends”

Once in a great while, we are privileged to experience a television event so...
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"Award-winning magazine (Shift) writer and Calgarian Chris Turner has produced and absolutely must-have tome for the many Simpson’s freaks, not just an over-sized fan’s guide but an absorbing take on why it matters."
Toronto Star

"Apparently, without my knowing, enough time officially passed to lay proper judgement on the 90’s. And here it is: Chris Turner’s Planet Simpson, a brilliant critique of western culture from the mid-‘90’s to the present using his favourite TV show — The Simpsons — as the model, the backdrop, the mirror, the imperfect world-in-miniature….Turner understands pop culture in a way few others of his generation have been able to articulate thus far."
The Record (Kitchener-Waterloo)