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The Daily Inquisition / October 17, 2008

Today’s Defendant: The Simpsons

Statement of the Grand Inquisitor: We might as well stop beating around the bush and have the whole show canonized, if that’s possible. If not, all the characters can be saints, right? Or would it have to be Matt Groening and his team? Whatever, we’ll work it out.

Because The Simpsons is more that just a great show, perhaps the greatest TV show ever made. The Simpsons is bigger than that. It’s a model of the world as observed by a god that loves humanity, if such a thing were possible, which Chistianity claims it is.

See, those of us who’ve dabbled in the Christianity game, we can tell you—it’s never really been operational. To paraphrase Homer, when trying to describe his own religion which he can’t recall at the moment, “Y’know the one with all the stuff that sounds great but doesn’t really work out in real life…?” It’s the love thing, basically. Nobody can do it, “love thy neighbor as thyself” or however it goes. That’s crazy talk. People are just so terrible. There are like four really charming ones, and all the rest—phfff!

But The Simpsons imagines it for us, the possibility of loving everybody in all their rottenness. All those god’s-eye-views of the world the show gives us, all those overhead shots of the whole amassed community of Springfield, then plunging down to pick up one of them caught in some act of routine sin: Snake robbing somebody, Apu changing the expiration dates on old food containers so he can still sell them, Nelson beating up a small geek, Lisa hectoring Bart in superior tones, Moe just standing there expressing all his pent-up evil in the beady shifting of his eyes. But you love Moe, right? Impossible not to love his defensive stoop, the impacted rage in his voice, everything right down to the last knob on his misshapen head.

That’s how the Christianity thing was supposed to work, see. Everybody awash in this strange god’s affection that ultimately becomes contagious. Of course it never pans out, but The Simpsons allows one to contemplate it as a fully realized utopian vision, at least. You read the New Testament and you just can’t get a clear picture. All those parables, I mean. You really need The Simpsons as an Addendum, or Appendix, or on a CD-Rom tucked inside of the front cover. Better yet, how about a fifth Gospel: The Book of Homer.

Statement of the Defense: There is no possible argument against The Simpsons.

Verdict: Start mass-producing the halos.

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