A Trump campaign senior advisor tweeted that Kamala Harris sounds like Marge Simpson. The animated cartoon character had something to say about it.
Shortly after the Biden campaign announced liberal California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis tweeted that “Kamala sounds like Marge Simpson.”
Two days later, Marge responded in a brief video posted to The Simpsons’ official Twitter account:
“I usually don’t get into politics, but the president’s senior advisor Jenna Ellis just said Kamala Harris sounds like me. Lisa says she doesn’t mean it as a compliment. If that’s so, as an ordinary suburban housewife, I’m starting to feel a little disrespected. I teach my children not to name-call, Jenna.
“I was gonna say I’m pissed off, but I’m afraid they’d bleep it.”
Marge made the remarks while standing on a stage in front of a red curtain, an apparent homage to her speeches at the beginning of early “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween episodes.
“The Simpsons” has a history of speaking out about real-life politics, so that’s nothing new. But they used to do it much better.
During the 1992 campaign, then-president George H. W. Bush said, “We’re going to keep on trying to strengthen the American family, to make American families a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons.” The show fired back at the president by tacking on a new opening to a re-run that aired a few days later. In the alternate opening, the Simpson family is gathered around the TV watching President Bush’s remarks, to which Bart says, “Hey, we’re just like the Waltons. We’re praying for an end to the Depression, too.”
The special, non-canonical opening was added before the season 3 episode “Stark Raving Dad,” in which Homer is committed to an insane asylum where he meets a patient who believes he is Michael Jackson. (The character really was voiced by the King of Pop in an uncredited role, about two years before the singer was publicly accused of child sexual molestation.)
Bush eventually lost the 1992 election to Bill Clinton, in part due to the poor economy.
Compare that subtle jab about President Bush’s handling of the economy with “The Simpsons” more recent forays into politics:
During the 2016 campaign, the show posted a clip comparing how a hypothetical President Hillary Clinton would handle a 3 a.m. crisis with a President Trump. The clip shows President Trump lying in bed next to a book of Hitler speeches, and when Homer says he supports Trump anyway, Marge withholds sex and says she is not sure she can ever be with him again, to which Homer says that is how he became a democrat.
Other similar clips show President Trump trying to bribe Special Counsel Robert Muller, and President Trump facing off against AOC and The Squad in a West Side Story song parody that was roundly panned by commentators from across the political spectrum.
The gags are substantially more political (and far less funny) than the show’s earlier swipes at politics. The classic episode “Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish” (in which nuclear power plant owner Mr. Burns runs for governor to prevent the state from shutting the power plant down) skewers the corrupting influence of money in politics. The episode “Sideshow Bob Roberts highlights how easy it is for candidates to manipulate voters with negative ads. In one scene, Sideshow Bob (who was convicted of attempted murder) runs a campaign commercial saying that people should not trust Mayor Quimby because of the mayor supports revolving door prison policies that let people like… twice-convicted attempted murder Sideshow Bob out of jail. The ad ends with “Vote Sideshow Bob for mayor.”
The 1992 rebuttal to President Bush was not the first – or the last – time the Simpsons would get into a fight with the Bushes. In 1990, then-First Lady Barbara Bush commented that the animated comedy was “the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.” “The Simpsons” writers, as Marge, then wrote a letter to Mrs. Bush that said, “I recently read your criticism of my family. I was deeply hurt. Heaven knows we’re far from perfect, and if truth be known, maybe just a wee bit short of normal; but as Dr. Seuss says, ‘a person is a person.’” The first lady later apologized to Marge by saying that she saw a picture of the Simpsons camping together as a family. “Clearly you are setting a good example for the rest of the country.”
Of course, in the 1996 episode “Two Bad Neighbors” the Bushes move in across the street from the Simpsons, and former president George H.W. Bush and Homer end up in a physical brawl.
In an episode from 2000 titled “Bart to the Future,” an adult President Lisa Simpson says, “As you know, we’ve inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump.” Sixteen years later, Trump really was elected president.