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Canonizing The Simpsons The Anti Textual

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(Image Credit: Speedyf40. "The Simpsons Then... and Now" Speedyf40. Tumblr, 2010. JPEG. Web. 26 April 2016.)
Canonizing The Simpsons: The Anti-Textual
Properties of a Show in Decline
Student Number: 630002487
Submission Date: 28th April 2016
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Chapter 1: “You Should Win Things By Watching” – The Meta-Textual
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Construction of The Simpsons
Chapter 2: “I Lost Creative Control of the Project” – The Decline of The
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Simpsons and the Birth of the Anti-Text
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Works Cited
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Works Consulted
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The Simpsons is in decline. Or at least, something calling itself ‘The Simpsons’ is. One
of the most critically acclaimed shows of its time, the series has won 31 Emmy Awards, 30
Annie Awards and was named by Time Magazine as the best television series of the 20th
Century (Poniewozik). Likewise, the show has amassed a remarkably dedicated fanbase. The
advent of the World Wide Web opened the floodgates for The Simpsons related discussion
boards, with The Simpsons discussion group alt.tv.simpsons among one of the internet’s earliest
fan sites. Reid Kanaley has described the show as having “wormed its way across the chaotic
Internet without any formal planning or profit motive” and the sheer variety of fan-based
discussion groups shows that series’ presence online derives predominantly from its dedicated
fanbase and cultural legacy, rather than a marketing strategy. Looking across a number of fan
sites, we can see that the fanbase is still very much alive, with thousands of discussions ranging
from “The Last Simpsons Episode You Watched” (mksimith2), “The Simpsons and World
Travel” (Gatorgod) and whether Lisa “Should Become a Vegan?” (InsanityPepper). Put
simply, The Simpsons is a cultural institution, with fans willing to spend hours of their lives
debating the show’s many nuances and discussing at length their favourite episodes.
However, somewhere along the way, something changed. Around the time of the
show’s ninth season, the series began to face significant backlash from its fanbase, with many
fans taking to the internet to voice their dissatisfaction with the series. As illustrated by Fig 1.,
there is a clear decline in user scores for the series after its ninth season, with the show’s earlier
seasons consistently averaging a user score of 8.0 whilst, post season 9, user score averages
drop to just below 7.0. Using this data, it is clear that fans have not abandoned the show.
Instead, in professing a love for the earlier seasons whilst simultaneously chastising later
instalments, they have entered into a complicated relationship with the text.
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Fig.1. IMDb user ratings for each season of The Simpsons (Charlie Sweatpants)
John Bonne has pointed out that fans continue to wonder “whether the show has run out of
steam”, with one fan describing the 200th Anniversary Episode 5F09 (‘Trash of the Titans’) as
“a pointless, predictable, stupid and unfunny illustration of just how low-brow and down in the
trash The Simpsons has gotten” (Lombart) whilst another fan, in criticising Episode BABF16
(‘Kill the Alligator and Run’), argued that it was “"A pile of crap unworthy to be a Simpsons
episode" (Banswell).
But if certain episodes are ‘no longer worthy’ of being called The Simpsons, then what
series are these episodes part of? Clearly, these works are still part of the primary text – they
are episodes The Simpsons – but something has altered in their signification that prevents them
from being read as part of the text in the eyes of the fanbase. Thus, these episodes embody a
separate text entirely – one which I term the anti-text.
Over the course of this dissertation, I will argue that the supposed decline of The
Simpsons has resulted in it being read as multiple texts. Using Henry Jenkins definition of fans
as producers, I argue that The Simpsons’ decline means that it is a text that has been fragmented
by its fanbase into two fan-constructed texts: the meta-text and the anti-text. Whilst the metatext is defined as a text that encompasses a fan’s ‘ideal’ version of a show, the anti-text is its
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antithesis; it is defined by what the show is not and, as a result, requires the same level of
discussion and scrutiny that is necessary in rendering the meta-text stable. In my first chapter,
I assert that The Simpsons’ episodic nature and lack of continuity make it a text which is defined
primarily by its relationship with fans. Lacking any producer enforced continuity, it is instead
up to the fans to decide what The Simpsons is. In my second chapter, I build upon this
conception of The Simpsons’ textuality, arguing that the series’ supposed decline allows for the
creation of a secondary text. Whilst bearing a surface-level resemblance to the meta-text, it is
a separate text, with separate characters and authors and therefore cannot infringe upon the
meaning generated within the meta-text.
Much of the research for this dissertation was drawn from The Simpsons fan forums,
discussion sites and fan websites, all of which feature extensive debates regarding the show’s
decline in quality. However, this dissertation does not seek to offer a definition of what these
meta-text and anti-texts are, rather it attempts to map how fan practices shape the development
of these two texts. In discussing fandom, I draw upon Jenkins’ definition of ‘fan practice’ in
which the viewing of a particular programme translates “into some type about cultural activity”
(Textual Poachers 305) which, in this case, is the practice of discussing The Simpsons online.
In using this methodology, I hope to illuminate how fan practice generates textual plurality,
proving that, as the reception of a programme changes over the time, the text becomes a
different one in its own right.
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“You Should Win Things by Watching” – The Meta-Textual Construction of The
Debates concerning the textuality of The Simpsons continue to dominate fan discussion
sites. In forming part of a long-running series, individual episodes are often discussed in the
context of the series as a whole, but it is unclear what characterises an individual episode as a
part of The Simpsons. Whilst there are certain characteristics that act as obvious sign-posts –
characters, settings - fans frequently argue there are more abstract qualities – tone, plot device,
characterisation – that govern The Simpsons’ textuality. In this chapter I will argue that, as a
televisual text, The Simpsons cannot be clearly defined as an individual text. Instead, the series’
episodic nature and lack of narrative continuity forces the fan to define its textuality by creating
links between individual episodes. Following this, I will then argue that these links produce a
fan determined ‘meta-text’ which rivals the primary text in producing a definition of The
Simpsons’ textuality and, as a result, allows fans to become ‘producers’ of The Simpsons
Textual studies, as Jonathan Gray notes, have long since “fetishized the text as a solitary
autonomous object” (Watching With The Simpsons 19), but television’s episodic nature
prevents it from ascribing to such an essentialist definition. Rather than displaying a single,
uninterrupted narrative, televisual texts are instead produced in a fashion that John Ellis
describes as “segmented” (102), a process by which overarching narratives are “fragmented
into an… experience of segments and discontinuity” (Fiske Television Culture 63). As the
television text is often consumed in syndication, textual definition is instead founded upon the
“associative links” (Fiske Television Culture 63) that the fan makes between individual
segments. However, this argument runs on the assumption that the televisual text, whilst
fragmented, is closed; that it is a textual jigsaw in which separate elements are pieced together
in order to build a complete text. This may work for texts which are no longer actively
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producing segments, but for The Simpsons, the text remains, as Jean Feuer writes, “open” (101)
and is therefore capable of generating new forms of associative characteristics. Peter
Lunenfeld’s description of digital media’s “aesthetic of unfinish” (qtd in Daly 89) is
appropriate in defining this openness, in that the text is not formed from the “beginning and
end” but from the “interaction of differing and uncontrolled factors” (Daly 88). Put simply, the
primary text is never ‘finished’, it is rhizomatic, with its definition changing from segment to
segment, preventing it from converging into a discernible whole.
Further complicating this segmentation is The Simpsons’ employment of one of
television’s dominant forms, the ‘series.’ Philip Drummond argues that, whilst less
“overflowing” than the continuous narratives of serialised televisual narrative, the television
series’ segmented properties necessitate the “elaboration of a continuous internal mythology”
and “hermeneutic” (19) for the series as a whole, meaning that the segmentation is more defined
than the ‘overflow’ of a serialised narrative. Because each segment is imbued with what John
Fiske calls “closure” (Television Culture 145), a self-contained narrative confined to the
individual segment, the ‘links’ between segments play a greater part in shaping textual
definition as they become the only way in which each disparate segment, narratively stable in
its own right, can be grouped together under the banner of text.
Within this form, The Simpsons also employs an elastic narrative – a term I will use
throughout this dissertation – meaning that the conflicts of the individual segments have no
substantial impact upon the series as a whole. No matter how far a conflict is stretched out
across an episode, this narrative elasticity ensures that the instalment will ‘snap back’ to the
status-quo by the episode’s conclusion, preventing long-term narrative development. This
elasticity does not simply extend to narrative but to characters and setting; the characters on
The Simpsons do not age, but instead live in a never-changing universe which bares the same
landmarks, characters and history. Reflecting upon this in a commentary for Episode 9F08
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(‘Lisa’s First Word’), series creator Matt Groening asserts that there is “no continuity on The
Simpsons” because, if there were, then Bart Simpson “would be twenty five by now.” This
laissez-faire attitude towards continuity is made explicitly clear in Episode 1F14 (‘Homer
Loves Flanders’) when Lisa Simpson remarks that:
“It seems like every week something odd happens to the Simpsons. My advice is to ride
it out, make the occasional smart-alec quip, and by next week we’ll be back to where
we started from, ready for another wacky adventure”
Because of this elasticity, there is no overarching narrative and, as a result, the ‘links’ which
are required to generate textual coherence become less clear. Instead of turning to the narrative
in order to define the text, fans of The Simpsons must instead endeavour to find common tropes
and recurring elements which link these self-enclosed narratives together thematically.
This reveals The Simpsons to be what Mikhail Bakhtin calls a “heteroglossic text”
(276). Fiske describes such texts as the “assembalance of a multitude of voices” (Television
Culture 96) which actively contradict one another. Within these contradictions, meaning is
generated by the fan actively “making his or own text” through a process of “listening more or
less attentively to different voices” (Television Culture 96), and therefore generating their own
textual meaning independently. This reposits Ellis’ concept of segmentation as a site in which
a potential infinite number of texts can be generated. To return to an earlier metaphor, the
segments that make up the individual pieces of the textual jigsaw can now be seen to form a
whole regardless of what order or what pieces are used. However, such textual openness does
not result in incoherence, a trait that Fiske reserves for the “avant-garde” (Remote Control 63).
Instead, The Simpsons is rendered comprehensible by a principle that Matt Hills defines as
“hyperdiegesis” (138). Hyperdiegesis refers to the “consistent continuity that makes [popular
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texts] cohere overall as ontologically secure worlds” (Johnson 286), meaning that popular texts
require certain tropes and recurring elements - ones that transcend the subjective heteroglossic
signs and are instead objectively present in every segment of the text – in order to become
readable. For Hills, these hyperdiegetic elements are a quality of the primary text, and therefore
exist as part of the texts heteroglossic makeup; no matter how heteroglossic a text, its
hyperdiegetic elements allow it to be stable and readable.
It is at this point that we encounter the meta-text. A term coined by Jenkins, the ‘metatext’ represents the “ideal version” of a programme “against which an episode is evaluated”
(Textual Poachers 98). In a series-based narrative, the narrative is typically resolved within an
individual episode, giving it the appearance of a self-contained story. As we have already
established, it is television’s hyperdiegetic qualities which form the links by which segments
are read as part of televisual text. However, Jenkins argues that there are also properties within
the televisual text’s heteroglossia which fans come to see as equally important in shaping
textual definition. Using the example of Star Trek, Jenkins argues that fans experience
televisual texts as “closer to a serial” in which:
“No episode can be easily disentangled from the series’ historical trajectory; plot
developments are seen not as complete within themselves but as one series of events
among many in the lives of it primary characters.” (Textual Poachers 99)
Here, we see a series of characteristics that, whilst part of the text, are not essential to
its comprehension at a segmented level. Christine Scodari supports this interpretation in her
analysis of fans of The Beatles by arguing that fans primarily “labour to shape the canon and
mythology” of their subject so as to “privilege their favoured subjectivities” (49) whilst
marginalising others. Whilst this may appear to be a case of favouritism, rather than actual
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textual definition, Jenkins argues that such meta-textual properties are essential in defining and
comprehending the text in its entirety. For Jenkins, the text does not possess “completeness
and continuity” (Textual Poachers 102) in its individual self-enclosed segments, rather, the text
is established by the fan-related discourses that surround it.
Fans of The Simpsons frequently endeavour to define the series’ meta-textual
hyperdiegetic elements. One fan, in addressing the series’ elastic continuity, saw the show as
“existing in the current moment” but commented that it was still unacceptable to “sacrifice
details that are truly beloved or classic”, such as “Marge and Homer still being depicted as
teenagers in the 70s” (Thanksgiving). Here, the fan identified a means of providing clarity to
the text’s heteroglossia, allowing the text to contradict itself internally by acknowledging that
the shifting timeline was fundamental to its construction. Equally, the fan posited a
hyperdiegetic quality of The Simpsons, stressing that the ‘beloved detail’ of Marge and
Homer’s timeline could not be altered. In this sense, the fan generated a meta-text, outlining
principles that were essential, in their eyes, to linking individual episodes together and
bracketing them under a single text; Marge and Homer’s relationship was what made ‘The
Simpsons’, The Simpsons.
It is important to note that this fan’s assertion was not part of an individual free-for-all
to define The Simpsons, but instead constituted a small part of a larger community’s textual
definition. The individual post formed part of a larger thread entitled “Does the messed up
continuity ever bother you?”, in which an effort was made by numerous fans to add a sense of
coherence and stability to the series’ elastic narrative. Multiple posters in the forum supported
the user’s hyperdiegetic proposition, with responses echoing the sentiment that the fanbase did
not, on the whole, care about continuity. 1 As a result, this discussion constituted an act of what
User responses to the thread’s question included, amongst others “nope, not really” (Santa Shoz), “I don’t
really care about continuity” (Pkkao) and one user asserting that “it’s an animated show, is there supposed to be
continuity?” (Toiletdickrocket).
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Pierre Lévy calls “collective intelligence”, in which “no one knows everything but everyone
knows something” (20), and allowed the online community to assert textual authority as a
collective mass. In debating such factors, such discussions do not individualize fans but,
instead, further police and define meta-textual boundaries. This adds greater validity to the
meta-text, making it a collective product of a large section of the fandom en-masse.
This imbues fans with a sense of control over textual definition, meaning that they
become, as Jenkins writes, “active producers” (Textual Poachers 23), controlling the discourse
of both textual construction and reception. This discourse is established through meta-textual
production, meaning that fans can be seen to represent what Stanley Fish describes as an
“interpretative community” (338). For Fish, meaning is shaped not by the text itself but the
discourses that surround both the text and the reader. Using the example of William Blake’s
The Tyger, Fish points towards a disagreement between two literary theorists over the meaning
of the same word within the poem. In this instance, the text cannot be appealed to in order to
resolve the dispute, the dispute concerns the same iteration within text, so the critics must
appeal to information outside of the text in order to justify their opinion. In regards to fan
studies, this ‘outside’ constitutes the existing meta-text.
It is important to understand that this meta-text does not replace the primary text in the
fan’s eye, but is a “tertiary, fan-made construction” (Johnson, 286), which exists alongside the
primary text simultaneously. Cornell Sandvoss has described the relationship between fans and
“fan objects” as lying somewhere between an “urtext” – an exact replica of a text made without
any added material – and a paratext – “the single episodes and additional material that fans
patch together to form a text” (23). In this regard, the meta-text appears aesthetically urtextual
– it does not appear different to the primary text – but is actually constructed by fans from both
material that exists within the individual segments, and secondary material that concerns the
text. For Gray, this paratext begins to “invade the meaning-making process” of the primary
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text, primarily because fans begin “to consume some texts through paratexts and supportive
intertexts” (Watching With The Simpsons 37), rendering the primary text obsolete. The writers
of The Simpsons have expressed awareness of this disruption in the hierarchy between text and
meta-text. Matt Groening has admitted that the writers “frequently lurked from time to time”
(Turner 312) on now defunct fan-site alt.tv.simpsons in order to gauge fan responses to
particular episodes, whilst Bill Oakley (Executive Producer, Seasons Seven & Eight)
occasionally posted on the website during his tenure, hosting, among other things, Q&A
sessions with fans (The Simpsons Archive). This willingness to engage with the fanbase not
only points towards an author-reader relationship more complicated than the familiar model in
which “the reader is supposed to serve as… [a] passive recipient” (Jenkins Textual Poachers
25), but also demonstrates that the writers were painfully aware that their episodes would be
judged based upon a fan generated consensus of what The Simpsons is. This does not mean that
The Simpsons meta-text becomes the primary text, rather that the meta-text becomes the
primary signifier by which to understand what the text is, and which of its heteroglossic
properties are considered important to this understanding. As a result, “an ongoing struggling
for the possession of the text” (Jenkins Textual Poachers 24) emerges between writers and
fans. Whilst the producers of The Simpsons are responsible for the production of the primary
text, and thus responsible for its heteroglossia, the fans produce the meta-text, and thus govern
the text’s hyperdiegetic elements, restricting the direction in which the producers can take the
series narratively. Because of this, the idealised meta-text becomes the lens through which the
text is actually read; the Homer presented in The Simpsons meta-text becomes the Homer of
the primary text.
Whilst the primary text supersedes the meta-text chronologically, the meta-text of The
Simpsons becomes as important in defining textual definition as the original text. In describing
the old relationship between author and reader, Jenkins uses the metaphor of a “teacher”
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(author) marking their students (the reader) “correctly” and “penalizing those who ‘get it
wrong” (Textual Poachers 25), but, unintentionally his metaphor better serves this new, metatextual relationship between fan and text. The fan is now in possession of the ‘red pen’, and is
able to mark the text against how much it ‘correctly’ follows the criteria laid out in the metatext. In my next chapter I will detail how this ‘red pen’ produces a complimentary anti-text, the
antithesis of the meta-text, which becomes just as important in defining textual meaning as the
primary text is splintered into two iterations: one that defines what the text is and one that
defines what the text is not.
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“I Lost Creative Control of the Project” – The Decline of The Simpsons and the
Birth of the Anti-Text
As noted in the previous chapter, fans possess the ability to produce text, defining which
of The Simpsons’ heteroglossic properties are viewed as hyperdiegetic in the context of the fan
constructed meta-text. However, studies regarding meta-textuality have too often ignored the
elements of the text’s heteroglossia which are excluded during meta-textual production. This
production is often conducted with a qualitative framework in mind – fans seek to justify their
preferred episodes as ‘the best’ – and The Simpsons is no exception to this rule. As a result,
episodes that are, inversely, considered ‘the worst’ are predominantly discussed in terms that
seek to separate them from the main text. In this chapter I will argue that the production of a
meta-text inadvertently results in the creation of an oppositional text, which seeks to map what
The Simpsons is not. This text I deem the anti-text.
Jaime Weinman, in addressing The Simpsons’ supposed decline in quality, notes that
discussions surrounding unpopular episodes frequently employ language that suggests that “a
different show is being talk about.” This idea is echoed by a user of alt.tv.simpsons who, in a
discussion regarding BABF09 (‘Saddlesore Galactica’)2, argued that the episode was:
“NOT what The Simpsons are about, whatsoever. The Simpsons are about exaggerating
reality, and this time, they didn’t just exaggerate reality, they crossed over it!” (Canniff)
In arguing that the episode was ‘not what The Simpsons was about’, the fan unconsciously
identified a criterion that denied BABF09 its place within The Simpsons meta-text. In a sense,
this ‘exaggerating reality’ constituted an inversion of the fan constructed hyperdiegesis; a
The episode is frequently listed as one of the worst episodes of The Simpsons and both Marco Ursi and Nancy
Basile declared it the worst episode of all time.
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segment found to possess this quality can be identified as not The Simpsons. Derek Johnson
has argued that, whilst producers have the ability to delimit the range of interpretations possible
within fan-meta texts” and thus control the text’s heteroglossia, audience are equally able to
“adapt the text” to suit specific interests and therefore construct an “interpretative consensus
that delegitimizes institutional authority over the hyperdiegetic text” (291). Because of this, in
their position as writers, fans do not work from a blank canvas, but instead construct their text
from a number of elements present in the primary text. In doing so, fans make specific decisions
about the elements that are considered ‘unnecessary’ in the production of the meta-text, but,
more importantly, also make decisions about the elements that threaten their conception of the
‘ideal text’, considering such properties ‘bad’ iterations of the text and, as a result, exclude
them from the meta-text.
One fan took this exclusionary process further, arguing that:
“Simpsons from 1990-1997 is one show, Simpsons from 1998 is another show. That’s
why I call one Simpsons 1 and Simpsons 2. They’re just not the same show. Not the
same focus, not the same genre, not the same characters, not the same plot
construction.” (Killtacular)
Here, the user established a marked distinction between the fan-text that they adored, and
segments of the primary text that failed to correspond with their definition of The Simpsons
meta-text. In doing this, the user inadvertently splintered the text. Because the series from 1998
onwards still bares hyperdiegetic elements of the primary text – it is marketed as part of the
same series - the user had to concede that the text in question bore the name of ‘The Simpsons’.
Nonetheless, unconsciously exploiting the series’ segmented heteroglossia, the user was able
to mark post-1998 segments as ‘Simpsons 2’ – a different text within the primary text – and
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therefore ensure that their meta-text remained secure in its construction; its meaning was
protected from the show’s post-1998 seasons. In doing this, the user inadvertently created two
texts: one that they defined as The Simpsons and an anti-text that they defined as ‘not The
Like the meta-text, this anti-text consists of its own sets of hyperdiegetic elements
which, if identified in a segment, work as a means by which to justify its exclusion from the
meta-text. In this sense, the primary text becomes a site at which multiple texts can be produced
from its heteroglossic elements; the fan does not produce one text but several. Evidence of such
plurality can be seen in the activities of Dead Homer Society, a fan-site dedicated to negative
discussion of the contemporary version of The Simpsons. Defining the current incarnation of
the show as “Zombie Simpsons”, the website’s admins are keen to point out that the “show that
currently calls itself ‘The Simpsons’ has little resemblance” (Charlie Sweatpants Zombie
Simpsons) to the original version of The Simpsons. The distinction between The Simpsons and
‘The Simpsons’ supports the idea that the primary text can be split into two distinct texts, the
meta-text and the anti-text. However, in discussing in depth the qualities of this secondary text,
‘Zombie Simpsons’, Dead Homer Society also shows that production of such texts requires the
same level of revision, definition and conception of hyperdiegesis as the meta-text. Among
other items, Dead Homer Society contains the full copy of an extensive E-Book entitled
‘Zombie Simpsons’ which not only serves to depict the show’s current run as a different text,
but also endeavours to define “why it declined into the bland and formulaic thing that still airs
on Sundays at 8pm on FOX” (Charlie Sweatpants Zombie Simpsons). In establishing a ‘why’,
the website shows that the creation of a meta-text does not simply involve the creation of an
exclusionary zone for segments, but the creation of a separate text that exists in its own right.
Here, we must draw a distinction between what Gray defines as “anti-fandom”, the
“hate or dislike of [a] text.” (Anti-Fandom and the Moral Text 841), and the fan-made attempt
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at textual definition that results in the meta-textual / anti-textual dichotomy. Like fans, antifans “construct an image of the text… sufficiently enough that they can react to and against it”,
with Gray stressing that, because the text is consumed as paratext, the anti-fan text is “born
into existence in large part separate of what might be ‘in’ the text as produced” (New Audiences,
New Textualities 71). Gray’s definition, however, is insufficient for describing fans who both
adore and despise episodes of a particular series in equal measure. Just as intensified fandom
drive fans to generate their own definition of textuality through meta-text, so too does the antitext create a means by which to protect the meta-text’s ontological security. In the case of The
Simpsons, the anti-text, ‘Zombie Simpsons’, acts as a means by which to protect previous
instalments from a perceived decline in quality that has afflicted the show over the years. The
creators of Dead Homer Society argue that the show, in its pre-season nine incarnation, was
arguably “the greatest show of all time” (Charlie Sweatpants Zombie Simpsons), showing that
they do not serve strictly as ‘anti-fans.’ In this sense, by creating an anti-text, the fan assumes
the role of both fan and anti-fan simultaneously, preserving The Simpsons from influence
outside the meta-text by defining segments that fail to meet this criteria as part of a separate
text in its own right.
This quest for meta-textual coherence not only extends to establishing a ‘split’ between
The Simpsons and ‘The Simpsons’ (the anti-text), but also extends to the reception of individual
episodes. Segments that threaten to damage the meta-text’s ontological security, either
qualitatively or narratively, can be removed from the meta-text’s internal continuity in a
process that I will subsequently refer to as de-canonisation. Keidra Chaney and Raizel Liebler
describe the canon as “the official storylines and back stories invented by the creators of
television shows” (1), tying together individual narrative arcs so that subsequent narratives are
viewed as continuations of an ‘ongoing story.’ In this sense, each individual narrative is seen
to follow the rules and lore established in the previous one, meaning that ‘the canon’ can be
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viewed as a narrative superstructure; previous instalments form the foundations by which
subsequent narratives are metaphorically laid. However, Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson
note a distinction between the ‘official stories’ defined by the creators of a series as canon and
the fan-narratives which are then embedded and “repeated pervasively throughout the fan text”
(5). For Busse and Hellekson, fandoms create their own sets of narrative rules, character
relations and conceptions of continuity that may contradict the authorial canon of the primary
text, meaning that reach of the meta-text not only extends to textual definition but textual
As noted previously, The Simpsons uses an ‘elastic narrative’, meaning that it does not
have its own ‘official story.’ Devoid then, of this authorial produced canon, it is arguable that
The Simpsons’ narrative elasticity means that the sole source of continuity is derived from the
viewer-generated “fanon” (Busse and Hellekson 5). Chaney and Liebler loosely define the
fanon as an “alternative universe where… elements of the story are pulled into the ‘official
story” (5), but in lacking an ‘official story’, this ‘alternate universe’ becomes the primary one;
the writing of fanon moving from that of “fan fiction” (Bush & Hellekson 5) into the
aforementioned act of producing the text. This production is further complicated by the fact
that the story of The Simpsons is on-going, meaning that the continuity is still “capable of being
expanded upon by the author” (Pugh 50), creating a space, as Will Brooker writes, for
continued debate and re-writing, allowing fandom to “enter, create, argue and suggest” (50).
Chief amongst these discussions is the debate as to which episodes fit inside the ‘canon’
and which episodes are seen to violate its rules. Episodes which offer contradictions or changes
to the canonical narrative force fans to “decide which truth to accept” (Pugh 46); the one
established by the segment or one established in previous instalments. In opting to follow the
latter, fans “tag” (Chaney and Liebier 11) these segments as ‘non-canon’ and therefore cast
these episodes from meta-text to the anti-text through decanonisation. Through this process,
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the canon is arguably created like a sculptor creates a statue from marble; the potential for the
canon exists, but individual segments, the metaphorical marble, needs to be chiselled away
until there is something tangible.
Fan responses to Episode 4F23 (‘The Principal and the Pauper’) exemplify this process
of decanonisation, with the episode’s writer Ken Keeler describing it as “the most controversial
in the show’s history.” In the episode, Seymour Skinner, principal of Springfield Elementary
School, is revealed to be an imposter whose real name is Armin Tamzarian, after the ‘real’
Seymour Skinner arrives in Springfield and accuses Tamzarian of assuming his identity. After
proving unpopular with the town’s people, the ‘real’ Seymour Skinner is forced to leave and
Armin Tamzarian returns to Springfield to once again assume his identity. The episode was
met with substantial backlash from fans with Dead Homer Society describing it as “widely
reviled” (Charlie Sweatpants Zombie Simpsons), whilst one fan described the episode as
“heartless”, and that the show had “wiped away one character they spent years creating and
expanding” (Ckckred). Much of this backlash stemmed from the idea that, in revealing Skinner
as an imposter, the writers had “contradicted a lot of things in earlier episodes” (Stevie V.
Scrivello). In regards to this negative reception, Keeler remarked that fans “feel [so] strongly
about these characters… that you can’t take it away from them or they get really, really angry”
and Pugh supports this, arguing that this also applies to their histories as well, arguing that fans
“have a firm idea of what those characters are like and won’t stand for interpretations that are
wildly off-beam” (65-66). Subsequent evaluations by fans have led to the episode being cast
outside of the series’ canon, with the episodes appearing on numerous threads discussing ‘noncanon’ episodes (Stevie. V. Scrivello).
As noted previously, however, The Simpsons routinely rewrites its own characters and
their histories in order to serve specific plot points. In Episode 3F18 (‘22 Short Films About
Springfield’) Waylon Smithers is stung by a bee and, due to his severe allergy, is forced to
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cycle to the hospital. However, in Episode 8F09 (‘Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk’) Smithers
visits an apiary and, despite being stung multiple times, suffers no allergic reaction. Despite
this breach of character continuity, the episode remains acclaimed with the fanbase, with 77%
of users on No Homers giving the episode a maximum score of five stars (Jake).
This begs the question as to why fans of The Simpsons are willing to accept some
continuity breaches but not others. One reason lies with the fact that, in contradicting a part of
Smithers’ character in 8F09, Episode 3F18 does not require a re-reading of the series’ as a
whole – scenes involving Smithers and bees can be isolated to those two episodes – and so
does not impact upon the ‘links’ that facilitate The Simpsons’ textual stability. Instead, Episode
3F18 only has mild implications for the reading of Episode 8F09, and does not impact upon
the understanding of 8F09’s narrative; the bee scene is a mere skit and so does not affect one’s
understanding of the individual segment, or the series as a whole. In contrast, the reveal of
‘Fake Skinner’ has a bearing across the continuity of the entire series, and therefore poses a
threat to the meta-text’s coherence. Take a scene from 9F13 (‘I Love Lisa’) in which Skinner
has a flashback to his service in Vietnam. In the original context, the scene depicts Skinner
displaying symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and is played for laughs. However, in
accepting Episode 4F23 into the continuity, the interpretation of the scene changes. Instead of
seeing it as a reflection of Skinners’ Vietnam experience, the episode’s ‘truth’ is now called
into question; we no longer know whether this a story told by Armin Tamzarian or Seymour
Skinner and, more importantly, whether it is an accurate reflection of the character. As one fan
put it: “all those flashback or stories from his past he said were lies and, in the end, pointless.”
(Monty_Burns). In rendering these sequences suspect, the new information provided in
Episode 4F23 posed a threat to the internal logic of Skinner’s character, meaning that the
primary text now threatened to disrupt the hyperdiegetic elements of his character established
across the series previously. Because of this, in order to preserve the hyperdiegetic elements of
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the meta-textual Skinner, fans opted to de-canonise the episode, ensuring that Skinner’s
character was not redefined within the meta-text, casting Episode 4F23 to the anti-text.
Episode KABF04 (‘That 90’s Show’) was met with a similar contempt by the fanbase.
Recontextualising Marge and Homer’s relationship so that they met in the early 1990s, the
episode significantly contradicts previous episodes3 which had established that the couple’s
relationship had developed across the late 1970s and early 1980s. Users of the website Dead
Homers Society took to scrutinising the episode almost immediately after it had aired, with user
responses ranging from outcries that it was “big fuck you to continuity” (Prune Tracy) to claims
that the episode “[had] to be non-canon.” This hostile reaction stemmed largely from the fact
that, like Episode 4F23, the segment had compromised the information established in previous
episodes, delegitimising the backstory that had been elaborated upon significantly across the
series’ history. As one user argued:
“The episode changes the entire continuity of the series… it tries to make the show’s
timeline as the real world so Bart and Lisa can still be 10 and 8. However, this retcon 4
ruins plenty of classic episodes.” (Moon_at_the_Wayside)
In ‘retconning’ the history of The Simpsons and, as a result, opening up the potential for two
wildly contradictory origin stories for the show’s main characters, Episode KABF04 exposed
the heteroglossic properties of The Simpsons’ narrative. John Kenneth Muir has argued that
retconning frequently works on a basis of “extrapolation” (374), in which fans work to allow
both narratives to exist and ensure a single narrative cohesiveness is maintained. However,
Episode KABF04 generated a canonical tangent that was not reconcilable with the show’s
This narrative is established comprehensively across the series with Marge and Homer first meeting in High
School in the late 1970’s (7F12), before marrying and having Bart (8F10) and Lisa (9F08) in the early 1980’s.
A short-hand for Rectified Continuity – the process of ‘rewriting’ a programme’s past.
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established continuity. In attempting to ‘update’ the history of The Simpsons so that the
characters could justifiably remain the same age, the producers inadvertently conceded that the
show’s elastic continuity, a hyperdiegetic element of the text, had resulted in temporal
inconsistencies. Moreover, in positing an updated timeline, Episode KABF04 inadvertently
challenged the validity of previous instalments meaning that, instead of cohering into a single
canonical narrative, the show now offered viewers two ‘alternative’ timelines to follow,
meaning that the ‘ontological security’ of The Simpsons’ history had now been compromised.
Johnson has argued that “canonical hyperdiegesis” allows for only one narrative to be
“syntagmatically fulfilled” (288) at one time, but in the case of Episode KABF04, this process
had been inverted. Whilst the elastic continuity and absence of canon allows The Simpsons to
pursue wildly divergent narratives, the hyperdiegetic rules established by the meta-textual
fanon requires a single narrative for the text to be rendered coherent.
In this sense, fans challenge the discourses of a text’s producers, relegating instalments
that fail to follow their established ‘rules’ of the text to the status of anti-text. This process of
decanonisation not only extends to individual segments, however, but also a series’ writers and
producers, who can be recast as producers of anti-text and therefore have their ability to impact
upon meta-textual meaning compromised. In the case of The Simpsons, anti-textual discourse
is frequently associated with the tenure of Mike Scully, showrunner for seasons nine through
twelve. Mirroring the criticisms of ‘Zombie Simpsons’, which delegitimised this ‘zombie’
iteration from impacting upon the meta-text, fan responses to Scully’s tenure routinely
challenged his authority over the text and, as a result, compromised his impact upon textual
meaning. Like the anti-textual ‘Zombie Simpsons’, the Scully era was thought to display
hyperdiegetic characteristics that diverged from those of the primary text. One fan composed
a derogatory “Scully-era checklist”, which included, amongst other things, instances in which
“Homer acts like an animal”, “horrible characterization of marge” and “unnecessary celebrity
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cameos” (Frank). In doing so, the fan recast Scully as the writer of a separate text, inadvertently
creating a set of criteria which earmarked Scully as creating something that was not The
Simpsons. Another fan summarised this further by arguing that Scully had “killed The
Simpsons” and was instead “churning out” “airless, heartless bland, blunt episodes” from a
metaphorical “Simpsons factory” (pizzarktechnicallysubmitted). Likewise, the aforementioned
backlash over Episode 4F23 became synonymous with Scully’s tenure 5, with one fan seeing
the production of the episode and the appointment of Scully as being the “two main reasons”
(Billy) for the show’s decline. This link worked much like the links that bind the meta-text
together, associating the anti-textual segment with the discourse of the producer and therefore
subverting his authority over the primary text.
This subversion was furthered by certain disgruntled fans, who launched alternative
trajectories for the show online in order to register their concerns with this ‘alternate’ version
of The Simpsons. Posting on fan-site No Homers, one user asked “what would have happened
if the Scully era never happened?” (anothersimpsonsaccount) and the response to the query
was overwhelmingly positive, with many users arguing that, in Scully’s absence, the decline
of the show “would not have been as big” (Jerkass Homer) or that “it would not have been as
noticeable” (Financial Panther It depends on who the…). Similarly, one fan decided to rewrite
The Simpsons’ history online and envisioned a scenario in which Scully had “created ‘The
Simpsons’” (Dark Homer), providing satirical synopses for episodes from the show’s first
season6 and therefore arguing that Scully’s influence was the chief reason for the show’s
decline in quality. A fan also questioned what would have happened if “Mike Scully hadn’t
stepped down in Season 13” (Simpsons Forever) and continued to produce the show across its
thirteenth and fourteenth seasons. Fan responses ranged from arguing that show “would have
This being despite the fact that episode was, in actuality, a holdover from the Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein
ran Season 8.
As an example, Episode 7G03 (‘Homer’s Odyssey’), in which Homer becomes depressed and attempts suicide,
was envisioned as an episode in which “Homer does something wacky for 30 minutes” (Dark Homer)
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been cancelled now” (Galalimit) or that “quality-wise the show would have been dead”
(Veryjammy) to praise directed at Scully’s successor, Al Jean, with one user claiming that he
had “stopped [the] bad episodes from happening” (Simpsons Forever). The message here, then,
was that the show would have continued to be a separate text, one suitably inferior to the metatextual The Simpsons, had Mike Scully continued as showrunner. As a result, these countertexts worked both to preserve the boundaries of the meta-text – upon Scully’s authorship the
text is no longer The Simpsons – and to reaffirm the associative link between producer, and
anti-text, therefore preventing Scully from impacting upon the meaning of the meta-text.
So we have established that both text and producer can be severed split across the metatext and anti-text. The primary text’s heteroglossia allows individual producers to be detached
from the series’ as a whole, and this heteroglossia also extends to a programme’s characters.
Jenkins has argued that fans routinely “assemble sufficient background on these characters to
reconstruct their life and histories and to speculate about their motivations” (Textual Poachers
102) and, in debating the merits of one iteration of the series over another, fans frequently cite
changes to characters and their behaviour as being fundamental in distinguishing the metatextual The Simpsons from its ‘Zombie’ counterparts. In response to an article on Dead Homer
Society, one user expressed such concerns, arguing that one of the “major issues” of the show
was that its characters “don’t act like real people anymore” (Joe). Within the same thread,
another user elaborated on this topic further, arguing that:
“My realization that Zombie Simpsons sucked was a pretty slow process… The first
thing I was able to explain was that the character didn’t act like themselves, and I think
that’s the biggest flaw of the show.” (Sarah J)
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Both users express legitimate concerns about a perceived decline in the show’s quality,
professing adoration for the series but arguing that the characters had somehow changed and
no longer bore a resemblance to their metatextual counterparts. In doing this, the users
identified character consistency as a crucial part of their continued enjoyment of the show, but
also unconsciously showed that the characters, like the primary text, were just as capable of
being split into multiple meta-textual and anti-textual iterations. In this sense, the construction
of the characters mirrors that of the text that they inhabit; the characters become heteroglossic
sites for fans to assemble meta-textually their hyperdiegetic characteristics.
No more is this the case than with the show’s main character, Homer Simpson, who is
frequently described in both meta-textual and anti-textual terms. Highlighting a noticeable shift
in the character’s personality around the ninth season, large sections of The Simpsons’ fan base
took to labelling the character “Jerkass Homer” (Financial Panther What Exactly Is The Jerkass
Homer), in an effort to distinguish this “mean spirited” (Jim) version from the “well meaning…
everyman” (Jim) of his meta-textual counterpart. Baring names such as “What’s exactly is the
Jerkass Homer?” (Financial Panther) and “The Birth of Jerkass Homer” (The Wiggs), many
online fan threads took to establishing traits by which to recognise the character, with one user
describing Jerkass Homer as a “complete lunatic who does whatever he likes and cares only
about himself” (LukeMM95). Another fan, in response to a user questioning the use of the
term, defined this iteration as an “alternative version of Homer” (Cartoon Network) to the one
present in earlier seasons, whilst the administrators of Dead Homer Society described Jerkass
Homer as a “new Homer” who was in “almost every episode” (Charlie Sweatpants Zombie
Simpsons) from Seasons 10 onwards.
These attempts at distinguishing this new ‘Jerkass Homer’ from the original text
support the argument that characters, like the texts which they belong too, are heteroglossic,
and therefore capable of being rendered in multiple iterations; they are not the same characters
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inhabiting different texts but different characters within different texts. One fan noted that the
character was akin to an “evil doppelganger” (Charlie Sweatpants Zombie Simpsons) and, in
doing so, had inadvertently established a semiotic difference between the two characters.
Whilst the signifier of Homer Simpson has remained the same – he is bald man with yellow
skin – the user had established a change in the characters signification, meaning that the ‘sign’
of Homer Simpson in later seasons moved from that of his original meta-textual self into a
new-found ‘Jerkass’ iteration of the anti-text. In doing this, fans legitimised ‘Zombie
Simpsons’ as a separate text in its own right, establishing that the show had not only changed
in regards to its quality but also its content.
Detractors of this interpretation launched their own project to dismiss Homer’s
‘Jerkass’ qualities, arguing that this mean-spirited behaviour had been an integral part of his
character is earlier seasons. Efforts to define Jerkass Homer have been frequently met with
rebuttals, with one
fan arguing that
Homer had “always
[been] a
(C.MontgomeryBurns), whilst another stated that they had “never really been able to tell the
difference between angry Homer and Jerkass Homer” (Financial Panther What Exactly Is The
Jerkass Homer). One user elaborated on this further, stating that:
“The beginnings of Jerkass Homer took root long before the end of the classic era. I
recently watched [Episode 7F23] ‘When Flanders Failed’ 7 and for the majority of the
episode, Homer is extraordinarily cruel to his neighbour… when he taunts and
browbeats Flanders… reeks of Jerkass Homer to me” (Cash Kerouac).
In this episode, Homer wishes that his neighbour, Ned Flander, fails in launching his new business. After
Homer’s wish comes true, he seeks to make amends for his ill will.
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The presence of this ‘Jerkass’ quality in earlier episodes complicate this resignification of
Homer’s character substantially. If the ‘extraordinary cruelty’ of Jerkass Homer is visible to
certain fans in Episode 7F23, an episode as early as the third season, then we cannot state that
Homer is merely ‘a different character’ in later seasons. Instead, we return to the earlier
argument that characters exhibit the same heteroglossic properties as the texts they inhabit.
One user, seeking to defend Homer in Episode 7F23, argued that “just because there
are individual episodes that feature the character’s selfishness in a collection of episodes where
he’s not, doesn’t mean anything” (LionelHutz123). In this regard, the user acknowledges that
Homer possesses ‘Jerkass’ qualities in earlier seasons, but refutes the idea that they constitute
a hyperdiegetic part of his character. The contextual placement of the episode within the earlier
seasons means that Episode 7F23 does not constitute part of the resignification of Homer
Simpson as a ‘different character.’ Rather, in order to preserve the meta-textual periodisation
of the show as ‘two texts’, the user argues that the display of ‘Jerkass’ characteristics is a part
of the character’s heteroglossic construction, rather than the hyperdiegetic part of his character
that it becomes in later seasons. Similarly, in attempting to justify Homer’s ‘Jerkass’ behaviour
in the “classic seasons”, one user described these instances as manifestations of “Angry
Homer” (Cartoon Network) rather than that of the anti-textual ‘Jerkass Homer.’ Here, the user
acknowledged that ‘Jerkass’ characteristics were present in the characters’ heteroglossic
makeup, but in changing the sign that these characteristics were associated with, the user
unconsciously protected their meta-text from being invaded by the ‘Jerkass Homer’ of the antitext. By unconsciously arguing that identical characterisation in different segments can signify
differently depending on the episode’s contextual placement within the series, the user also
showed that different ‘links’ – the fan-constructed hyperdiegesis – were used in the
construction of the meta-text and anti-text. Whilst ‘Angry Homer’ had little impact upon the
characterisation of Homer within the meta-text, these characteristics formed a hyperdiegetic
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part of the Homer of later instalments, creating, in turn, ‘Jerkass Homer’, a different character
in his own right.
In this sense, the characters, like the text, are heteroglossic and therefore allow fans to
create both meta-textual and anti-textual interpretations respectively. Whilst the signifier
remains the same in both text, fans create hyperdiegetic criteria for both iterations, which
allows the creation of two distinct characters to exist within the primary text simultaneously.
Hence, the signification of these characters becomes distinct. In doing this, fans protect their
meta-text by arguing that the actions of the anti-textual characters are not representative of their
meta-textual equivalents. As a result, these anti-textual characters do not contribute to the
generation of meaning within the meta-text; they are different characters inhabiting a different
text with a different set of producers.
This positions the anti-text as a fully-fledged text in its own right, capable of generating
the same level of debate and definition that fans give to their idealised meta-text. To return to
an earlier point, an extensive amount of world-building is involved in the construction of antitext. Like its meta-textual counterpart, the anti-text contains its own disparate instalments,
linked through shared themes, characters, producers and, most importantly of all, its own set
of hyperdiegetic criteria. In forming an anti-text, fans actively prevents certain segments and
characters from being classed as ‘canon’ and, as a result, allow the meta-text to remain
ontologically secure in its construction.
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The decline of The Simpsons therefore results in the splintering of the primary text. In
employing the serialised form, and therefore being segmented into various episodes, The
Simpsons lacks an obvious textual definition. It is a heteroglossic text, at which an infinite
number of links can be generated by its fans to define its textuality. Moreover, in utilising an
elastic narrative, the series also lacks a sense of internal continuity, meaning that the links
between segments are defined not by producer, but fan-based discourses. Through these
discourses, fans exert control over textual definition, meaning that the series’ has a secondary
layer of hyperdiegesis: the one present in the primary text, and the one formed in the fanconstructed meta-text.
From this meta-text, the anti-text is formed. The shape that the text takes when
individual segments fail to conform to meta-textual expectations, the anti-text possesses its
own fan-generated hyperdiegetic characteristics, which, if found present in a particular
segment, result in its expulsion from the meta-text. In demonstrating the level of negative fan
discourse that The Simpsons has provoked, this dissertation hoped to prove that debates over
‘bad’ iterations of text are as active as those that concern the meta-text. In doing so, this
dissertation also sought to give this anti-text as much legitimacy as its meta-textual counterpart
and, through a close-reading of fan discourse, hoped to define it as a separate text, produced
by its own author and containing its own characters.
However, there is still fertile ground to be covered in the discussion of anti-textual
discourses. In limiting itself to The Simpsons, this dissertation does not allow for a discussion
of the different fan-generated hyperdiegetic elements that form anti-text in other televisions
programmes, nor does it discuss in detail the debates between fans over contrasting definitions
of the meta-text. Moreover, the separation between meta-text and anti-text in fan discussions
of The Simpsons is seen to be chronological; the show was good and has now deteriorated.
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Because of this, there is has been no discussion of meta-textual ‘resurgence’, in which a series’
anti-textual iteration is wedged firmly in the middle of a series, and is therefore more difficult
to map than the ‘split’ textuality of The Simpsons. In addition, there has not been room to
discuss the implications that this textual plurality has upon the primary text. The Simpsons is
known for its self-referential humour and, at times, has pointed out its supposed decline in
quality. Such discussion would have led to a greater understanding of the relationship between
fan-constructed texts and their impact upon authorial discourse.
Nevertheless, through exploration of the relationship between positive and negative fan
discourse, this dissertation has applications beyond The Simpsons. In conducting a study of
texts that are seen to divide their fanbase, I have hopefully illuminated that the relationship
between fan and text is not simply one in which the fan passively enjoys every single episode.
Instead, fans preserve their meta-text by creating a secondary text, the anti-text, which
functions as a buffer zone to prevent the primary text from ‘spoiling’ their idealised version of
their chosen programme. As a result, to say that The Simpsons has declined in quality is a
misnomer. If we are to believe the fans, the show that was The Simpsons no longer exists.
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http://www.nohomers.net/showthread.php?48314-What-If-Mike-Scully-Hadn-tStepped-Down-In-S13. Web. 12 April 2016.
Word Count: 8799
Candidate Number: 630002487
Web. 23 April 2016.
Gray, Jonathan. “Anti-Fandom and the Moral Text: Television without Pity and Textual
dislike.” American Behaviour Scientist 48: 840-58. 2005. JSTOR. Web. 10 April 2016.
---. “Introduction: Why Study Fans?” Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated
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---. “New Audiences, New Textualities: Anti-Fans and Non-Fans.” International Jorunal of
Cultural Studies 6: 64-81. 2003. JSTOR. Web. 9 April 2016.
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December. 1992. Television.
Hills, Matt. Fan Cultures. New York: Routledge, 2002. Print.
HMS Pinafore. “That 90s Show Has to Be Non-Canon.” October 2010. No Homers.
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Insanity Pepper. “Should Lisa Become a Vegan?” 22 April 2016. No Homers.
http://www.nohomers.net/forumdisplay.php?2. Web. 23 April 2016.
Jake. “Rate & Review: 22 Short Films About Springfield.” March 2014. No Homers.
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---. Textual Poachers. New York: Routledge, 1992. Print.
Word Count: 8799
Candidate Number: 630002487
Jerkass Homer. “The Show would have declined…” January 2016. No Homers.
http://www.nohomers.net/showthread.php?110086-What-if-Mike-Scully-neverbecame-showrunner. 24 April 2016.
http://www.nohomers.net/showthread.php?57919-Character-Spotlight-Homer-JaySimpson. Web. 20 April 2016.
Web. 15 April 2016.
Johnson, Derek. “Fantagonism: Factions, Institutions and Constitutive Hegemonies of
Freedom.” Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World. Ed. Jonathan
Gray. New York: University Press, 2007. Print.
Kanaley, Reid. “The Simpsons in Cyberspace.” The Philadelphia Enquirer. Philadelphia
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Keeler, Ken, commentary. “Episode 4F23 (‘The Principal and the Pauper’).” The Simpsons.
Writ. Ken Keeler. Fox. 28 September. 1997. Television.
Killtacular. “Simpsons from 1990-1997 is one show…” September 2001. Toonzone.
Lévy, Pierre. Collective Intelligence: Mankind’s Emerging World in Cyberspace. Cambridge:
Perseus Books, 1997. Print.
Web. 1 April 2016.
Lombard, Ondre. “Episode 5F09.” The Simpsons Archive. 26 April 1998. Web. 25 April 2016.
Word Count: 8799
Candidate Number: 630002487
http://www.nohomers.net/showthread.php?107662-first-instance-of-quot-jerkasshomer-quot. Web. 24 April 2016.
Mksmith2. “The Last Simpsons Episode You Watched.” May 2010. Newspringfield.
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Monty_Burns. “All those flashback or stories from his past…” August 2009. No Homers.
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Moon_at_the_Wayside. “I know the Simpson canon is not set in stone…” April 2014. Reddit.
psons_you_dont_consider/. Web. 15 April 2016.
Muir, John Kenneth. A Critical History of Doctor Who on Television. London: McFarland,
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Pizzarktechnicallysubmitted. “Mike Scully Killed…” September 2011. Freakin Awesome
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January 2011.
http://www.nohomers.net/showthread.php?102660-Does-the-messed-up-continuityever-bother-you. Web. 31 March 2016.
Poniewozik, James. “The Best TV Show Ever.” Time Magazine. Time Magazine, December
31, 1999. Print.
http://www.nohomers.net/showthread.php?97581-episodes-other-than-the-treehouseof-horror-that-are-not-canon-to-you/page2. Web. 31 March 2016.
Word Count: 8799
Candidate Number: 630002487
Sandvoss, Cornell. “The Death of the Reader: Literary Theory and the Study of Texts in
Popular Culture” Fandom: Identities and Communities in a Mediated World. Ed.
Jonathan Gray. New York: University Press, 2007. Print.
http://www.nohomers.net/showthread.php?102660-Does-the-messed-up-continuityever-bother-you. Web. 31 March 2016.
Sarah J “My realization that Zombie Simpsons sucked” 16 January 2015. Dead Homers
own-substitute/. Web. 15 April 2016.
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Sheenagh Pugh, The Democratic Genre. Seren: London, 2005. Print.
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Stevie. V. Scrivello. “Since that episode was in Season 7…” December 2006. No Homers.
http://www.nohomers.net/showthread.php?60315-seymour-skinners-history. Web. 30
March 2016.
Thanksgiving. “I’ve always thought of the show as existing in the current moment…” February
messed-up-continuity-ever-bother-you. Web. 31 March 2016.
Web. 15 April 2016.
Word Count: 8799
Candidate Number: 630002487
http://www.nohomers.net/showthread.php?102660-Does-the-messed-up-continuityever-bother-you. Web. 31 March 2016.
Tulloch, J & Jenkins, H. Science Fiction Audiences: Watching Dr. Who and Star Trek.
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23 April 2016.
http://www.nohomers.net/showthread.php?48314-What-If-Mike-Scully-Hadn-tStepped-Down-In-S13. Web. 12 April 2016.
Weinman, Jaime. “Worst Episode Ever.” The Salon. Salon Media Group, January 2000. Web.
3 April 2016.
Word Count: 8799
Candidate Number: 630002487
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