The Simpsonswent on the air in 1989, and the television show has been a major part of pop culture ever since. The show has invented and/or popularized words such as "D'oh," "meh," "embiggens," and others. And with over 600 episodes, it has pretty much done it all. If you can imagine it, The Simpsons has probably done it. In addition, with no end to the series in sight, the show will continue to somehow do just about anything and everything.
This is a show that once had a baby shoot Mr. Burns. It's also seen Homer go into outer space, win a Grammy, and go on tour with Hullabalooza. And the show has even predicted the future. Yeah, that's right. Get rid of your crystal balls, and just bust out a copy of a Simpsons DVD.
In 2000, The Simpsons aired an episode called "Bart To The Future" where we flashed forward to a time when Lisa becomes president. And she mentions that inherited "quite a budget crunch" from the previous president, Donald Trump. The Simpsons called the election, 16 years early.
However, that wasn't the only time The Simpsons predicted something that would happen in politics. In fact, in one case, The Simpsons predicted something political, and then that very episode was used to keep it from happening. Here is the story.
This is Jack Layton of Toronto. He served on the city council for over 20 years before becoming a federal employee. "I might be the only federal leader who has every Simpsons episode on tape," he said. Hey, politicians might get a lot of flack, but at least there's one out there doing something right.
While Layton was on the city council, Toronto had an overflow of garbage. In 2000, the city was desperate to find a way to get rid of the trash, because there was no room in the city. So the town came up with a solution.
However, the plan sounded all too familiar to Layton. "I said to my son, 'Wasn't there some Simpsons episode about that?'" And his son said that the answer was a resounding "yes." To the television set!
The episode was titled "Trash Of The Titans." The story revolved around Homer being so mad about Springfield's trash collection that he runs for city sanitation commissioner. And to try to secure the win, he makes several outlandish promises.
Thanks to those promises, Homer wins in a landslide. But to keep his promises, he spends his entire budge and his department goes bankrupt. To make the money he needs to pay his sanitation workers, Homer allows other cities to store their garbage in the towns' abandoned mines in exchange for a fee. Sound familiar?
The problem with Homer's plan? Once the garbage is put into the mines, it overflows. Garbage that was buried under the city starts erupting, and the town becomes one big garbage pile. It gets so bad that, at the end of the episode, the entire town relocates five miles down the road.
Layton and his son remembered this particular episode, and got a copy of the tape. They then took it to a council meeting, where the issue was being debated. Then Layton took action during a part of the debate where his wife Olivia Chow (also a council member) was speaking.
"We cued the guys upstairs who run the video, and there was nothing the deputy mayor could do about it at that point," Layton said. "It was running, and we had tipped off the media about it and they were there with their cameras all lined up." From there, it was easy to convince the city that the mine proposal was a bad idea.
The city wound up rejecting the proposal, and instead shipped the garbage elsewhere, not into an abandoned mine. "We used that little bit of satire because it's a very efficient technique to deliver social commentary," Layton said. And it worked.
The Garbage Man Can
So perhaps the lesson is that you can't just move something out of sight to solve a problem. Or that you can't just believe a politician who makes many promises that would be completely impossible to keep. However, it can be hard to not want to believe those promises, especially when they're in the form of the song seen here, featuring a guest appearance by U2.