After nearly two decades and 400 episodes, it should come as no surprise that quotes from The Simpsons have entered into our lexicon. Any time you hear someone slowly enunciate the word “excellent” what you are hearing is an imitation of Springfield’s richest resident C. Montgomery Burns. And, as you probably know by now, Homer Simpson’s trademark cry of “D’oh!” was entered into the Oxford English Dictionary. What does that mean? Well, it means that D’oh is now officially considered an English word.
The great thing about The Simpsons quotes is that they are flexible enough to be used for multiple occasions. For instance, take what may be my favorite Simpsons quote of all time. Homer Simpson is preparing to address a gathering at a backyard barbecue when he says, “If I could just say a few words…I’d be a better public speaker.” The funniest thing about this scene is that Bart is the only one who finds it funny, doubling over and slamming his fist down on the table. This is a Simpsons quote that could be used before any public speaking engagement to break the ice. It’s self-deprecating and loosens the audience up a little.
Another classic Homer Simpson observation concerns one of the key differences between humans and animals. You know the type: What separates us from the animals is our ability to laugh, or our knowledge of our mortality, or the fact that we cover our nakedness. Well, Homer’s got the real truth: “Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals … except the weasel.” Let’s face it, weaseling out of things is a key component of the human condition. Heck, George W. Bush has made a legacy out of weaseling out of things. A pack of hyenas is more likely to take responsibility than Bush or most other people. Homer Simpson is very astute in his analysis, weaseling out of things truly is a necessary lesson to learn. Feel free to pass it on.
Except to weasels.
Homer Simpson also has the answer to all those who wish to be excused from jury duty. Don’t say your job can’t be done without you. Don’t say you have to take care of a sick relative. Homer has the best advice: “Getting out of jury duty is easy. The trick is to say you’re prejudiced against all races.” Every lawyer is looking to find the perfect juror and the perfect juror is one who is almost completely open-minded but comes with a built in set of prejudices. But if you explain that you are prejudiced against everybody, you can’t be trusted. You will be excused in the blink of an eye.
Labor unions have had a weird history in America. They began as saviors of the oppressed working class who were exploited to become little more than feudal serfs. After getting decent working conditions and an almost livable wage for many, however, they caved in to corruption and mob control. As a result, the labor unions of today are viewed with suspicion and have retained precious little influence. While labor strikes in other countries have contributed to a narrowing of the income gap between the owner and employee, strikes in America are virtually unknown. That is because Homer Simpson was absolutely correct in his assessment of how the American worker rebels against selfish, uncaring bosses: “You don’t like your job, you don’t strike. You go in every day and do it really half-assed. That’s the American way.” Yes, truly, you can see how Homer’s wisdom is expressed on the job every day. From customer service reps who provide no help to store clerks who wait until they finish their cell phone conversation before ringing you up, to Walmart managers who ignore the lines seven customers deep at the five checkouts they open out of the forty-five installed, American workers don’t resort to strikes to express their job dissatisfaction. They just do really lousy work. Unfortunately, the victim of this method isn’t the owner, but the customer.
And finally, Homer Simpson has advice for those who want to complain about anything. It’s really an almost Zen observation on how to achieve and maintain a spiritual level of content. The problem that most people have is that they are unhappy because of something that occurred previously. For instance, many of us are unhappy that Pres. Bush lied to us about Iraq in order to win approval for sending strangers to die there. If you find yourself unhappy about something, I suggest you take these words of Homer Simpson to heart. Study them. Consider the depth of meaning that exists in this deceptively simple observation. “Everything looks bad if you remember it.” Yes, no matter what your problem, no matter what it is that is causing your misery, the resolution to your discontent could not be simpler. Just stop remembering whatever it is that caused you to become unhappy. If you quit remembering it, it won’t seem as bad.