BAD TIMING!™ – Is It Time To Give the Simpsons NUCLEAR CONNECTION a Rest?

This SIMPSONS GRAPHIC NOVEL is coming out WEDNESDAY

Talk about BAD TIMING… This has to be some of the worst.

Long time readers of my various screed know that one of the things I ABSOLUTELY DETEST is CENSORSHIP.

As a writer, I have been subjected to it more times than I care count… Having gotten my fair share from book editors over the years. Most of it was completely unjustified and utterly ridiculous– and has been thrown on me by nervous sycophants worried about ruffling their bosses’ feathers if they accepted my mildly different ideas. One story I sometimes tell (in PRIVATE settings only), involves a very prominent comic book figure and the near insane lengths they went to in an attempt to censor my creativity. The story– and this person’s face– should literally be sitting next to every dictionary’s definition of IRONY.

Anyway, it’s a given that I can’t stand censorship and that I deplore anyone who attempts to exercise it. In a truly democratic society, people should have the right to decide what they will– and will not– support. It does mean sifting through a lot of unintentional– and sometimes very intentional– inflammatory stuff… But it is the “price” I am glad to pay for freedom of speech.

On the unfortunate, unintentional side of offensive stuff is this new BONGO Graphic Novel, the Simpsons Comics MELTDOWN collection… And how it unintentionally has become the focal point of the Inveterate Media Junkies first ever BAD TIMING!™ post.

Here’s the description of  the book:

Matt Groening, creator of ‘The Simpsons,’ serves up a high-octane collection of combustible tales. It’s a red-alert laugh riot when all of Springfield moves in with Mr. Burns after a hazardous nuclear cloud engulfs the town. Then, fire up the grill as Krusty the Clown’s famous franchise gets some not-so friendly competition from a new burger meister – Homer Simpson! And when Springfield faces its worst financial crisis in history, Mayor Quimby sets off a firestorm of trouble by declaring that the town be open for business 24/7.

In an attempt at full disclosure: I really cannot stand “nuclear” anything. I especially dislike nuclear power and have always believed the hazards of building, running and maintaining nuclear plants is a short-sighted, unnecessary undertaking. The mere fact that spent nuclear rods and other nuclear fuel/waste remains hazardous to all life and the environment for over SIX HUNDRED YEARS has provided me with innumerable hours of fear and many a sleepless night filled with nasty, jarring nightmares.

There was a time when I was in college– if you got me drunk– I would repeatedly inform you of the dangers of nuclear power… And tell you that, as a species, we were insuring our extinction by insisting on so carelessly diddling around with this radioactive shit.

But, that is NOT what this article is about. This post is about whether publisher Bongo Comics, comic book distributors (the most prominent being Diamond Distribution) and booksellers across the world (including all comic book stores) should REFRAIN from selling and/or distributing this book… At least until we have a handle on how the horrific Japanese nuclear tragedy– an ever-growing health dilemma– plays out.

The Simpsons creator Matt Groenig: You won't meet a nicer, more gracious millionaire

I have met Simpsons creator Matt Groenig several times (mostly around busy Comic Cons)– and you couldn’t ask for a nicer multi-millionaire. I have been a HUGE FAN of all of Matt’s work– and really love his biting, subversive comic strip Life in Hell.

I, like 99.9% of all animation fans, also admired the early subversive nature of the The Simpsons television show… And still really enjoy the subversive bent whenever it deems to raise its’ head on the show– like it did in a recent sweatshop-themed opening conceived by UK graffiti artist Banksy.

Still, biting sarcasm is a rare commodity on The Simpsons nowadays. I am sure most would agree that The Simpsons truly lost its cultural edginess many, many years ago… About the same time the sudden pressure of becoming, maintaining and most importantly– protecting– the show’s status a phenomenal worldwide hit was brought to the forefront by Fox Studios.

Since I fully understand Matt’s original drive to poke fun and tweak the establishment teet– I totally get why he had Homer Simpson working at a nuclear power plant. The job was a perfect metaphor for mankind’s carelessness. What could be more dangerous than having a clueless moron working in a nuclear power plant control room?

The answer: NOTHING could be more dangerous.

Given my anti-nuclear stance and my acquired hatred for all things radioactive– I have always found the nuclear jokes in The Simpsons nearly intolerable… And I wondered, on more than one occasion, if they were desensitizing the world to the MASSIVE DANGERS inherent in fucking around with nuclear power.

But seriously, all that aside: This cover, the described storyline of the first tale (keep in mind I have not actually read the book in question) just seems like too much right now. Even if the story isn’t as goofy as it sounds, the cover is enough to turn my stomach.

So my question remains:

Is it possible for a comic book company, the distributor and the retailers to take a stand on this… To DELAY this book until the Japanese nuclear crisis is over– or, at the very least, stabilized?

Today’s AP reports from Japan state that tap water in Iitate, a 6,000 strong village 19 miles Northwest of the Fukushima plant, has elevated levels of iodine– the equivalent radiation of 1/26th of a chest x-ray per liter of water. Tokyo’s tap water– showing heightened levels of iodine since Friday– now has traces of cesium. More and more produce (mostly green leaf vegetables like spinach, canola and chrysanthemum greens) and raw cow’s milk are showing heightened iodine levels– in prefecture’s further and further from the nuclear site.

We all know, as crisis levels continue to ebb and flow (the workers were pulled from the plant again early Monday as more “gray smoke” plumed from the plant’s Unit 3 reactor)– that the long-term effects of this disaster will take years– if not decades (or centennials)– to play out fully.

Could it be possible that the great and benevolent Matt Groenig could swing his heavy bat– still filled with enormous creator power– and make a unilateral decision for The Simpsons (and especially Homer) to Go Green?

Whether we like it or not Matt (and I feel certain you do NOT like what’s happening any more than I– or anybody else– does), real life has caught up with your inspired cyncism from decades past. But what was once a mildly funny association for Homer (and the rest of the show) is now borderline abhorrent.

Another idea overtaken by "real life". This is NOT a joke. This "Appetite Suppressant" Candy guaranteed weight loss, was HUGELY POPULAR-- and sadly, was actually called AYDS.

It always sucks when real life intrudes on fantastical creations or products– but it is the risk we all take when we allow our work to be publicly disseminated. When phenomena like this occurs , creators almost always lose any meaningful control over their characters and their original vision– as forces larger than one person conspire to make more and more money off a popular idea.

Yet, these same creators still have power. And, Matt Groenig, an amazingly strong, vital and vibrant part of The Simpsons after two decades of unparalleled success– still has plenty of power to influence this Springfield juggernaut.

This is a realization that leaves me with one simple request:

If you can’t delay the distribution of the Simpsons Comics Meltdown collection (it’s winging its’ way to stores across the world now as I type– but a quick communique from the distributors could EASILY delay the release)… Then could you at least please stop any further nuclear (nuclear power, nuclear isotope, nuclear waste, nuclear plant) related comic book stories and jokes?

I, for one, would greatly appreciate it.

[Please remember that you can still text REDCROSS to 90999. This will donate $10.00 USD to the Red Cross Japan Disaster Relief. If you prefer to donate directly, please click on the Japan Relief Graphic at the top of the Inveterate Media Junkies sidebar and you will be taken directly to the Red Cross donation page– where you can choose how you want to donate your hard-earned money.- Thanks, Ian & Jose.]

[Ed. Note – Nuclear facts and figures taken directly from an AP story published 3.21.11]

This entry was posted in A Public Service Post, BAD IDEA, BAD TIMING!™, BIG PROBLEM, BREAKING NEWS, Commentary, Common Sense, Controversy, Death, Ian MacMillan, Insideman, Inveterate Media Junkies™ BREAKING NEWS, Inveterate Media Junkies™ Exclusive, Life & Times, NEW COLUMN!, NEW IMJ FEATURE, New Inveterate Media Junkies™ Column, New Inveterate Media Junkies™ Feature, New This Week, NEWS ALERT!, Opinion, Ouch!, Uh Oh!, WTF? and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to BAD TIMING!™ – Is It Time To Give the Simpsons NUCLEAR CONNECTION a Rest?

  1. Pingback: World Spinner

  2. ed2962 says:

    Interesting editorial. I remember back when Brian Azzarello was going to be the writer on The Authority after Mark Millar. Then 9-11 happened and he changed his mind. He felt it wasn’t appropriate to do comic about mass destruction so soon after the real life tragedy.

  3. hackslash2020 says:

    I tell people to get really scared. There is no glory or brains in downplaying a nuclear disaster.

    The cover of this book leaves a nuclear taste in my mouth.
    If I could say anything positive about this waste.
    This book might ridicule a nuclear treat
    But because of its bad timing.
    It might actually instigate a more serious and constructive emotion with viewers.
    Which is still worth something in my book.
    What am I thinking? Thats too far stretched and will never happen. Gosh.
    As long as Superman is fighting the symptons(chasing bank robbers) what can We mortals do to better the world?

  4. Insideman says:

    Ed2962 & Hack/Slash2020 Please note: The following comment has NOTHING to do with your comments. It has to do with other comments. ;)

    How is a SIMPSONS COMIC that is attempting to make fun of something that REALITY has sadly made NO LONGER FUNNY… ART?

    Please don’t insult anyone (or yourself) by saying THIS is art: “It’s a red-alert laugh riot when all of Springfield moves in with Mr. Burns after a hazardous nuclear cloud engulfs the town. ”

    This isn’t art in an ART sense… So please don’t describe it as such. It is a commercial enterprise. Period. This isn’t an indie comic trying to highlight or explain the dangers inherent in the nuclear community.

    As Jose told me on the phone: These books sell thousands of copies in mainstream bookstores. They are often the focus of WINDOW and large IN-STORE DISPLAYS. People are going to be confronted with a cover that– 3 months ago– no problem.

    TODAY? Highly Insensitive.

    Plus, I am having a really hard time wondering if some of the people that are knocking the objective of this commentary are even reading the fucking words. I don’t believe more than half of the detractors (there have been emails and tweets) have even endeavored to read the WHOLE thing.

    IF YOU DID, YOU WOULD DISCOVER THE FOLLOWING:

    NOWHERE do I double back on my censorship stance. I STILL detest it.

    NOWHERE in this article do I advocate CENSORSHIP.

    I simply think that given the current tragic circumstances in the world involving SEVERAL out of control nuclear reactors, that it would be BETTER– NICER– MORE SENSITIVE– for all involved if the book were SIMPLY DELAYED given the cover and the SUBJECT MATTER inside.

    Delaying something that is NOT time sensitive is NOT censorship in ANY sense of the word.

    It is common fucking sense.

    Read the entire article next time… And seriously, consider your source before you try to advocate that a SIMPSONS COMIC could provide a good TEACHING or CONVERSATION POINT for anyone.

    It’s a fucking Simpsons Comic, OK? It’s not written to instruct or spark discussion.

    And any parent that needs a damn SIMPSONS COMIC to discuss something as potentially devastating as NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST with their child needs to LOOK IN THE MIRROR and seriously examine the REAL PROBLEM standing before them– themselves.

  5. locusmortis says:

    I think you are completely over-reacting to be honest. What happened at Fukishima is nowhere near a potential nuclear holocaust. Nuclear reactors do not work in the same way as nuclear bombs, there is no way that there could be devestation on the scale of Hiroshima or Nagasaki, the worst that can happen is another Chernobyl and there is NO evidence that anything near as bad as that has happened or will happen.

    The difference between Fukishima and Chernobyl is that at Chernobyl the reactors were designed with an inherant design fault in the control rods whereas in Fukishima the control rods worked perfectly. The Fukishima plant came through the fifth biggest earthquake in history fine, it was the unprecedented tsunami that wrecked the backup diesel generators which caused the cooling system to go offline and this caused the problems with reactors 1-4 and with the spent fuel-rod cooling pools. From the latest evidence the japanese are bringing these under control.

    Another major difference between fukishima and chernobyl is that in the Soviet plant both the primary and secondary containment vessels were destroyed whereas at Fukishima just some of the secondary containment (the concrete outside shell) was destroyed. This meant that altough radioactive gas was released in japan (to relieve pressure, this is the gas that caused the explosions that destroyed the concrete shells), no particlutes were released and that is the dangerous stuff. Its the bits of radioactive material that caused the deaths of the brave “human robots” (thats what the russian government called them) during the fire-fighting at the Chernobyl plan. No-one has died at the Japanese plant.

    While the Fukishima drama may have been a godsend for 24-hour rolling news it hasn’t been as bad as its been portrayed (people should really watch the tv series “How TV ruined your life” by Charlie Brooker to show how modern news media instill fear in people by relentless doom-mongering)

    The reality is that the deaths from radiation release at Fukishima will be relatively minor and that with gas and oil running out, nuclear fission power is going to be a vital part of power generation in the future (unless someone works out fusion power that is).

    • Insideman says:

      Well, I respectfully disagree with most– but not ALL– of your points..

      1st off, people REALLY need the read the part of my article where I state, “I really cannot stand “nuclear” anything. I especially dislike nuclear power and have always believed the hazards of building, running and maintaining nuclear plants is a short-sighted, unnecessary undertaking. ”

      2nd: You assume that “…the worst that can happen is another Chernobyl and there is NO evidence that anything near as bad as that has happened or will happen.” is ACCEPTABLE to me. While I am all for the damage being as minimized as possible… A Chernobyl size event is NOT acceptable to me… And I doubt it will be acceptable to the people that will die from it either.

      3rd: You state “…there is NO evidence that anything near as bad as that [Chernobyl] has happened or will happen.” Simply put, there is NO EVIDENCE that it has NOT been– or WILL NOT be– just as bad (or worse) than Chernobyl… BECAUSE IT HAS NOT PLAYED OUT YET.

      4th: You state, “From the latest evidence the japanese are bringing these [reactors] under control. ” Yes, it would seem that way– depending on what news channel you watch. But I have a series of questions, that– in and of themselves– may refute the notion that everything is being brought :”under control”: Is that why they have forced the workers to LEAVE the plant TWICE in 24 hours? Is that why they have SUSPENDED attempts to reconnect the plant to electrical power that many times– if not more? Is that why the iodine levels in the tap water in TOKYO are now TWICE the acceptable limit for infants (if they drink the water, it can make them susceptible to THYROID CANCER). Is that why they are now measurable levels of deadly CESIUM in Tokyo tap water? Is that why GAS and SMOKE of an “unknown origin” continues to rise from the plant? Is that why one official noted today that it was important to get electricity connected to the plant because 1) they have been GUESSING just how badly the reactors are damaged 2) they have been GUESSING at the amount of radiation and harmful radioactive particles have really been released into the atmosphere and surrounding countryside and leaked into water tables?

      In short, how you can state that it looks like “…the japanese are bringing these [reactors] under control.” At best, yours is WISHFUL THINKING… Unless you have the ability to look into the future and tell me EXACTLY how this tragedy ends. And if you do, LM… Then I heard the British Lotto is over 90 Million pounds this week and I would like you to buy me a ticket. I’ll even split the winnings with you. How’s that? :D

      5th: You assume that I don’t already know how BADLY the 24 Hour News Channels can BLOW things out of proportion. LM, I have been around newsmen my entire life. I know ex long-time NBC anchor TOM BROKAW. MY BEST FRIEND for over 25 years (we were school buddies) works for CBS News. I know news stories that would curl your hair.

      I also know that different news outlets can DOWNPLAY certain stories as well. All depends on the NEWS DIRECTOR running the network. Could be that as hyperbolic some of the Japan coverage has been, they have not been WARNING PEOPLE ENOUGH. Why? Because, again: You, I and everybody else has NO CLUE how this story ends.

      LM, I am a BIG FAN of your taste (you should know that by now) and I heed your words/opinions more often than not– so I am sure that the “How TV Ruined Your Life” by Charlie Brooker is wonderfully informative. But I am NOT naive. I know EXACTLY what is going on…And I think DEEP CONCERN for the region is justified.

      6th: I am sure you know that NO DEATH is relatively minor– you were simply saying the number of deaths will be minor compared to WHAT THEY COULD HAVE BEEN. I agree AND disagree… As again, YOU DON’T KNOW what the final death tally will be.

      This truly is a case that the WIND could blow in the WRONG DIRECTION– and this mountain you think the media has made out of a molehill could turn into a MONSTER of staggering proportions within minutes.

      I appreciate your glass is HALF FULL philosophy when it comes to this topic and also appreciate your willingness to have an intelligent debate (unlike some others) but you will never convince a man who detests all things nuclear that this disaster is “OK” or “acceptable” or better than it could have been.

      I hate nuclear power THAT much.

      P.S. If anyone wants to do any research into this topic themselves– please Google reputable websites and read all about the NEAR MISSES that Nuclear Power plants have had in the USA alone. Take some time to read what happened to them when the ENTIRE POWER GRID for the ENTIRE EASTERN SEABOARD of this country was knocked out.

      Then take a sleep aid.

      You’ll need it.

  6. mattcd42 (wednesday's serial) says:

    I’m not saying Simpsons are art, but sometimes people need to laugh about what’s most horrible in the world, black humor is a very human response and help people cope with it. Also humor can have an odd way to keep things in the ‘diolouge’ I’d rather people keep nuclear energy in their thoughts so that we can have a bigger groundswell for support to change things instead of just going back to talking about the Sheen.

    • Insideman says:

      Great, I agree Matt.

      So do you SERIOUSLY think the SIMPSONS COMICS MELTDOWN Graphic Novel will come close to fulfilling your requirements of being so humorous that it helps people cope with this disaster? Do you think this would be a good choice for me to by my friends who are worried about their friends and family members living in the region?

      Also, do you SERIOUSLY think the SIMPSONS COMICS MELTDOWN Graphic Novel will help keep nuclear energy in our thoughts better than other ways– or even at all? I personally don’t need any help keeping this at the forefront of my brain. The constant HUGE aftershocks, numerous power plant evacuations and Health Alerts emanating from the region are more than enough to keep this issue at the forefront of my mind.

      Dude, you know I am NOT jumping on you or are attempting to make you look foolish. In fact, I TOTALLY AGREE with you!

      I just don’t see what your comments have to do with my article or my suggestion to SIMPLY DELAY this book’s release– or even this book in general… Since I don’t believe the SIMPSONS COMICS MELTDOWN Graphic Novel fulfills your requirements to make it useful in the situation.

      But, just like my article and my response to Locusmortis above– this response is just my opinion… And you all have a right to disagree with me… Just as I have a right to disagree with you.

      You’re still going to bake me a cake for my birthday, right? :D

      • mattcd42 (wednesday's serial) says:

        Ok I mean I guess a delay is justified, still and while yes my previous comment was a way to kind of be at odds, you’re right I don’t think this will stick in anyone’s memory for long. For us it’s your article that’s making us address this at all. Honestly I wouldn’t of know that the comic existed if you didn’t bring it up. I think that’s at the core of the whole thing here, the comic is pretty forgettable.

        As to your cake I hope you like Chocolate frosting… with razor blades! JK

  7. Insideman says:

    And by the way… I hope I am COMPLETELY WRONG about the extent of this tragedy/disaster.

    So wrong, that I look like the BIGGEST fool that EVER drew a breath.

    But I am NOT wrong when I state that a SIMPLE DELAY of the SIMPSONS COMICS MELTDOWN Graphic Novel would be the SENSITIVE, HUMANITARIAN thing to do. Matt Groenig is closer to BILLIONAIRE than millionaire. He could wait a month and let this play out… And so could Bongo and everybody else.

  8. NicktheStick says:

    The first time I read the article I did kind of have the feeling that you were agreeing with censorship. I decided not to post initially but when you had your mini rant linked to this I decided I would check it out again. After the second read through I honestly don’t know how I thought that you were contradicting yourself about the censorship issue. You CLEARLY are NOT supporting censorship. Which I totally agree with.

    I believe that the reason that I initially thought that, was due to the fact that I just think that you are over reacting. I will agree that it would be nice and ideal for the comic to be delayed because it is not vital that people read it. Especially the fact (even though indirectly) it is poking fun of an unfortunate tragic event.

    I personally don’t have an issue with nuclear power or reactors. There can be some good done with them. There are medical purposes that are benefited from isotopes and radiation. Quoting the World Nuclear Association: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf55.html

    * Nuclear medicine uses radiation to provide diagnostic information about the functioning of a person’s specific organs, or to treat them. Diagnostic procedures are now routine.
    * Radiotherapy can be used to treat some medical conditions, especially cancer, using radiation to weaken or destroy particular targeted cells.
    * Tens of millions of nuclear medicine procedures are performed each year, and demand for radioisotopes is increasing rapidly.

    Furthermore my university just got a pretty decent sized grant from the government for such research in the medicinal uses of isotopes to advance medical needs. http://www.usask.ca/communications/ocn/11-mar-18/4.php

    http://www.usask.ca/research/news/read.php?id=990

    Now I am totally fine with you still disagreeing that Nuclear anything is bad. I tend to try and be an optimist and look on the bright side of things. This may sound a bit insensitive but at least be glad that something like this did not happen in your own backyard.

    To sum things up, you clearly are not advocating censorship in anyway. It would be tremendous consideration to have postponed the release or sale of the Simpsons comic. The situation sucks and we have to deal with the hand we are dealt.

    • Insideman says:

      I agree with everything you wrote, Nick… And I appreciate that you RE-READ my article to clarify where I was coming from.

      In the end though– as much as I appreciate modern medicine’s ability to DIAGNOSE patients more effectively… I wish that was backed up with MORE cures.

      That written, I am sincerely happy for anyone who has been cured– or had friends or loved ones cured– by gene specific radioactive therapy.

      Good for you all.

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