With the recent Presidential win of Donald Trump, one of the stranger things that came out of it was that, well, it wasn’t a surprise at all as it turned out. Because the Simpsons predicted it a decade and a half ago. Honestly, I don’t know why anyone even ran against him.
Huh. I’m not quite sure how much of that is sarcasm at this point.
But my original point stands. A lot of people are attributing magical powers to the writing team from the Simpsons. So how does it stand up to scrutiny? Well, let’s take a look at it and a few other examples.
Though, I will note that the early writing from Conan O’Brien was magical for entirely different reasons.
“The Simpsons” predicts President Trump. There’s an old saying that goes something along the lines of “a million monkeys on a million typewriters would eventually write the complete works of Shakespeare.” In this scenario, the idea is that given enough time, any random event will eventually produce novels, scientific theorems and even secrets the Universe has long kept hidden. And before you get all excited, I’m going to splash some cold water on the idea, because random processes will also write a ton of really emo poetry.
I don’t know the exact time scale it would take for monkeys to write Shakespeare. If you trust the Wikipedia article on the topic (which I do, mostly by virtue of being too lazy to check anywhere else), it claims it would probably be orders of magnitude beyond the entire existence of the Universe itself. But to be perfectly fair, the Simpsons have been going on for about that long now.
Any show that talks about the future will start getting things right if it’s on the air for long enough, and I’m relatively sure Earth’s broadcast history was that black and white video of Hitler giving a speech followed by the first episode of the Simpsons. And that’s probably only because Hitler pre-empted it. Invaded its time slot, if you will.
To put it another way, think of all the things the Simpsons have gotten wrong about the future. Robots that burst into blames when they cry. The end of Christmas. And Lisa Simpson going to college, when in our time college costs have already risen to the GDP of a small but prosperous country.
For the sake of completeness, I’ll mention that they also predict his Presidency will leave the country so bankrupt that we’re on the verge of having our territory sold off to China. But to be fair, most of us were guessing that.
That “Batman vs Superman” logo in “I am Legend.” If you look at the picture I’ll grant you that the two logos do look eerily similar. But there are a lot of reasons for that. And I’ll even get into a couple. You know, it’s why I’m here, right?
For those of you not familiar with this story (and it could be forgiven, given that it both required you to watch “I am Legend” and not just drift off into daydreams) this billboard appears in Times Square in the movie. And…that’s pretty much the whole story. People saw the “Batman v Superman” logo years later and their heads exploded.
And while I’ll grant that it seems like a pretty big coincidence, well, it’s not even that.
People in “the know” about Warner Brothers (who did both movies) should be aware that this whole DC Comics Cinematic Universe thing isn’t new. There’s been talk of a Batman and Superman buddy picture going back well into last century, with renewed interest every time they release a movie. Some people forget it, but they’ve been trying to make a Batman and Superman movie since long before they were copying Marvel to get there.
Since Warner Brothers thought they could give themselves some free self-promotion, they included movie advertisements from the year 2009, which is when the world ends in “I am Legend.” This included Batman and Superman. And what appears to be a third of fourth sequel to “Legally Blonde.” As times for a civilization-ending plague go, just before we have to see either of those movies is a pretty good one.
Then again, they were trying to convey a horrible dystopian future. And what future could be worst than one where they not only released a Batman and Superman movie with even less fighting than the one we got, but also skipped over the Christopher Nolan trilogy to get there?
No “The Dark Knight” with Heath Ledger as the Joker? It’s hard to argue that mankind deserved to live in this scenario.
The “Back to the Future” one where it predicted anything. Like, anything at all. Ever. No. Whatever it was, look it up. They debunked it. Aside from correctly guessing the names of the years, they were wrong about pretty much every other detail about the future.
“Pizza hydrators?” Are you kidding me? When’s the last time you were eating pizza and thinking, “Ugh. This crust is too deliciously crispy. Think I’ll toss it in the refrigerator for three days and see if I can make it all moist and gross.” The whole thing reads like one of those early 20th century Popular Mechanics issues where they talked about the future and it’s all about enslaved Venusian children doing our laundry.
“Well,” you say, “they actually made hoverboards that…” Those were fake. Even the one that worked had to be used in a giant magnetic skating rink just to work.
“What about the Cubs winning the…?” No. Debunked. Off by one year.
In addition, the claim that we’d be seeing “Jaws 19” in theaters in 2015 gave the human race a little too much credit. Which is why we’d already given up on a series about homicidal sharks and moved on to…a series about a tornado made of sharks.