Culture Feature

All the Best "Simpsons" Memes, Ranked

Because it's the only way to know how you're really feeling.

The Simpsons has been running literally since the beginning of time, and it even managed to produce about five good (read: perfect) seasons of television in that time. As a result, any emotion or experience you have can easily be expressed in terms of Simpsons memes. These 30 just happen to be the best of the best:

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Culture Feature

I Animated Memes, Muppets, and Statues with "Deep Nostalgia"

MyHeritage's new software makes it a breeze to turn creepy artwork into horrifying animation...

In recent years machine learning programs have revolutionized the field of video editing.

So called "deepfakes," which require minimal training, access to a lot of footage, and no special equipment have made it possible for ordinary hobbyists to seemlessy and effortlessly superimpose one person's face onto another person's body.

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TV

"The Simpsons'" Apu, as We Know Him, Is Dead

Hank Azaria will no longer be voicing Apu.

Fox

Apu is no more, or, at the very least, the Apu we knew is gone.

Ever since Hari Kondabolu's 2017 documentary, The Problem With Apu, the iconic Kwik-E-Mart owner has been widely viewed as a source of controversy. Kondabolu's documentary explores the culture surrounding Apu, the Indian immigrant stereotypes Apu enforced, and the effect it had on the children of Indian immigrants who grew up in the '90s and 2000s. On one hand, Apu was arguably "representation" for Indian immigrants at a time when there were no other Indian characters on TV. But on the other, Apu's stereotypical manner of speaking and catch phrases like, "Thank you, come again!" became a common source of ridicule for Indian people in the real world.

"I think particularly right now, people feel so aggrieved and crazed and powerless that they're picking the wrong battles," said Simpsons creator Matt Groening at the time. "I am sorry that The Simpsons would be criticized for having an Indian character that, because of our extraordinary popularity — I expected other people to do it. I go, maybe he's a problem, but who's better? Who's a better Indian animated character in the last 30 years?"

Apu Simpsons Fox

To Groening's point, even in 2020, there are very few Indian faces on American TV. But for Azaria, the diversity provided by Apu didn't necessarily make up for the real pain that the character caused so many young Indian-Americans.

"The idea that anybody, young or old, past or present, was bullied or teased or worse based on the character of Apu on The Simpsons, the voice or any other tropes of the character is distressing," said Azaria shortly after watching. "And especially in post-9/11 America, the idea that anybody was marginalized based on it or had a hard time was very upsetting to me personally and professionally."

Azaria immediately called for more South Asian representation in The Simpsons' writing room, but now, after 30 years of being the white voice actor behind the best known Indian character on American television, Hank Azaria has officially decided to step down from the role.

"Once I realized that that was the way this character was thought of, I just didn't want to participate in it anymore," Azaria recently told the New York Times. "It just didn't feel right." However, he admitted being hesitant to give up the character. "I didn't want to knee-jerk drop it if I didn't feel that was right, nor did I want to stubbornly keep doing it if that wasn't right," he said. "But then I started thinking, if that character were the only representation of Jewish people in American culture for 20 years, which was the case with Apu, I might not love that."

"What happened with this character is a window into an important issue," Azaria said. "It's a good way to start the conversation. I can be accountable and try to make up for it as best I can."

Of course, that doesn't mean that Apu is actually gone. "Apu is beloved worldwide," said The Simpsons executive producersexecutive producers in a statement confirming Azaria's departure from the character. "We love him too. Stay tuned."

So what does the future hold for Apu? Can a character largely based on cultural stereotypes survive in the media landscape of 2020, or has Apu already failed the test of time? After all, times change, and culture changes, too. Things that were largely considered "okay" in 2019 can no longer hold up when we factor in the voices of non-white people who grew up experiencing the repercussions. But change is a good thing. That's how humanity grows and advances. Maybe Apu can grow and advance, too, with an Indian voice actor and Indian writers leading the way.

You can feel nostalgia for lost futures running through every note and lyric of Lil Peep's music, memorialized today on the massive compilation album Everybody's Everything.

Even while he was alive, his music was heavy with a sense of doom, always colored by a longing for a different mind and a different world.

Doom was part of his brand. He seemed allergic to his own mind and kinetically drawn to death; he appeared in a coffin on his last album, Come Over When You're Sober, Part 1. On his song "ghost boy" he sings, "When you are on your own / Just know that I love you / I won't pick up the phone / Just know that I need you." Though he sang those words while he was alive, they sound like a cry from beyond the veil, a futile attempt at making contact.

Witchblades and Rockstars: Lil Peep's Raw Honesty

Lil Peep always made music like he wasn't afraid to die, like every song could've been his last. Always, there was a sense of urgency, a throb to the basslines and a desperation to his voice that made it sound raw and real even when played through clusters of filters. The same went for his lyrics, which constantly veered between being laundry lists of vices and spurts of raw confession. "In high school I was a loner / I was a reject, I was a poser," he says on "witchblades," another song that toes the line between almost absurd performative artifice and moments of startling honesty. "I swear I mean well. I'm still going to hell."

When you listen to Lil Peep, you dive into a universe of pure id. The emotions are undistilled, dark and shrouded in decay, but they often veer towards surprising earnestness. From the start, Lil Peep was always honest about his desire to love and be loved, to be remembered and to do no harm to others.

Lil Peep - Text Me (ft. Era) (Official Audio) www.youtube.com

A lot of his songs rely on pop chord progressions and camp, which adds a sense of wide-eyed innocence to the music. That can feel like a kindness amidst the wilderness of all the binges and death, an eye in the storm of bass and hyper-processing. The same goes for his lyrics—he'll sound like a jaded old soul, but every once in a while his youth shows its face, or a wildly cheesy line will pop out of nowhere. "I'm a real rockstar," he says in "Rockstars," and you remember he's just a kid who fell into the vortex of Los Angeles. Of course, it wound up swallowing him.

A Portrait of Gen-Z Counterculture: Xanax, Social Media, and SoundCloud Clout

Throughout his short life, Peep struggled with anxiety and drug addiction, both of which made it difficult for him to connect to others. He took Xanax and other drugs to escape, and his music is a kind of map of the internal anxieties (and external methods of self-medication) that seem to define much of Gen-Z. There's a constant oscillation between overdose and withdrawal, a desire to feel everything and then a desire to escape it all.

Peep's short life, as chronicled on Everybody's Everything, is perhaps as good a portrait of the emotions of young people in 2017 as anything else in pop culture today. In the social media dimension, users are confronted with images of death and apocalypse, posted right alongside artificial visions of glory and glamour. Naturally, conflicting emotions like guilt, crushing realities, and illusions blur together in technicolor on every feed, just as they do on every Peep song.

Fortunately, Peep was a capable musician, capable of spinning these emotions into cohesive, hypnotic gestalt. "Text Me" is a fragile and spacey guitar ballad that will speak to children of the digital age as well as anyone who's ever felt a sense of longing for something they couldn't quite reach. "Belgium" is another song about disconnect that threads dreamy synths with a pounding, heady rhythm. Still, some of his best songs remain unreleased, like the impossibly dreamy "lose my mind," the woozily dark "The Way I See Things," and the anthemic "Broken Smile."

LiL PEEP - The Way I See Things www.youtube.com

Kurt Cobain and the Legacy of Fallen Stars

Peep is perpetually compared to Kurt Cobain, another star who struggled with depression and drugs and died too young. The Nirvana frontman was well-known for his hyper-sensitivity and empathy, which made it hard for him to live in the real world. The same could be said of Lil Peep, who posted a series of desperate captions on Instagram in the months and days leading up to his death. The day before he died, he wrote, "I just wanna be everybody's everything."

However, it's now almost certain that Peep didn't commit suicide. He died at 21 from an accidental fentanyl overdose, before he had the chance to fill arenas (as he certainly would have), before his sadness could mature and crystallize, before his music could ripen, and before he could make deeper connections and develop his burgeoning social consciousness. Because of this, his body of work will always be incomplete. Even so, Everybody's Everything is strong on its own, but even more so when you realize it's a skeleton. These songs are graveyards, haunted by everything that could've been.

That's also part of why, in spite of the care that was clearly put into curating the album and documentary, it's still hard to listen to them without wondering if they sound how Peep would've wanted them to, or if he would've wanted them released at all.

Haunted Futures

Sometimes, though, it's hard not to feel like Peep knew his fate. On "haunt u," one of his many unreleased songs, he sings, "I could live forever if I want to / I could stop time / but I never wanna do that again." He's aware that he could fill arenas, stop the world in its tracks, but he doesn't want that kind of power. Ironically, it's so easy to imagine that song filling outdoor amphitheaters and to envision fans' cellphone lights waving along like stars.

The theorist Mark Fisher coined the term "hauntology" to describe any feeling of "nostalgia for lost futures," emphasizing that usually, the loss of faith in a future—the belief that we've reached some kind of end of history—is involved in holding these futures back from becoming real. In this way, Lil Peep's vision of his fate became a self-fulfilling prophecy. "When I die, I'mma haunt you," he sings at the end of "haunt u." Few promises have been better kept.

lil peep - haunt u [extended w/lyrics] www.youtube.com


lil peep - star shopping (prod. kryptik) www.youtube.com


Peter Pan

Disney's new streaming service, Disney+, premiered on Tuesday to universal complaints.

The system is buggy, it crops out jokes on The Simpsons, and it essentially killed off the Netflix Marvel series. But considering the constant commentary on trigger warnings and the very predictable uproar from a segment of white men whenever a woman or a person of color is placed in a role that could have been given to someone less "political," it's a wonder that there hasn't been more of a backlash against Disney's new content warning.

Along with the usual warnings where sexual themes and violence are concerned, certain Disney movies have been officially labeled as even more racist than others. Pocahontas, for instance, has missed this distinction by tapping into relatively benign "noble savage" stereotypes, rather than playing into grotesque caricatures of inhuman otherness in its depiction of non-white characters. Peter Pan, on the other hand, was not so lucky. It joined the list of movies containing "cultural depictions" so "outdated" that they need a special warning so thoughtful parents can shield their kids from that particular brain-poison (while exposing them to a host of others).

Disney's "Peter Pan" - What Makes the Red Man Red? www.youtube.com

Other movies have earned this recognition include Lady and the Tramp, Dumbo, The Jungle Book, and Fantasia. Some have argued that referring to these wildly dehumanizing portrayals of non-white people (or, tellingly, animals standing in for non-white people) as simply "outdated" places the blame on the era in which they were produced, without taking any responsibility for the impact of producing and distributing such harmful iconography. After all, if Disney is willing to wage an endless fight to maintain their exclusive rights to Mickey Mouse—and for the subsequent deprivation of the public domain—shouldn't they likewise be held accountable for the indefensible content in much of their IP? If the blame doesn't belong solely to them, then why does the profit?

"Jim Crow"in DumboDumbo

It's a compelling argument, but it overlooks an important point. Namely, Disney is right about the eras that produced such offensive trash. Their movies have always tapped into the zeitgeist—the lowest common denominator of ideas. And for the entire history of "Western Civilization," those ideas have been horribly racist (as well as homophobic, misogynistic, and culturally chauvinistic). Colonialism is the foundation of "Western Civilization." The looting and subjugation of other peoples and their lands have made it possible for the Western world to flourish. The United States, for instance, was "settled" on top of an existing civilization that white men ravaged with the help of guns, biological warfare, and the forced labor of people who were stolen from their homes, then bred and sold and treated as livestock.

This brand of devouring colonialism has been made possible by concerted efforts to dehumanize anyone who doesn't conform to the mold of the dominant elite. And men like Walt Disney perpetuated that brand. Whatever Jordan Peterson might want you to believe, Disney movies have always been propaganda—part of a mythos that defined "the West" in contrast to the rest of the world, holding it up as something worth defending. "Western Civilization" is inextricably linked to these self-aggrandizing myths, and any attempt to undermine derogatory depictions of the Other is fundamentally an attack on "Western Civilization." Worse than the new content warning, Disney has completely omitted Song of the South, erasing the proud tradition of pretending that black people were happy as slaves. The Disney+ claim that "The Vault Is Wide Open" seems to be ignoring a few items in the lock box at the back.

In short, Disney's latest effort at woke-washing is an affront to the principles that our society was built on—namely, the principle that the world belongs to white men, and no one else is really a person—but it doesn't go nearly far enough. They are attacking our disgusting history in little ways, but they are still profiting from its relics and using Tom Hanks to put a nice face on the whole operation. Now that Disney owns literally all of culture, they owe it to us to own up to the dark past that defines our society and attack "Western Civilization" head on. Because until we fully dismantle the disgusting ideas at the core of "Western Civilizations" and begin to build an inclusive and global society, we will not have earned the right to call ourselves civilized.

TV

The 11 Best Halloween Episodes of Your Favorite TV Shows

Here are all the best TV spooktaculars

NBC

The best part of Halloween, aside from candy, scary movies, and sexy costume parties, is that every single TV show in the entire world tries to capitalize on the holiday.

I wish I could say that I was impervious to the capitalization of Halloween media, but I'm not. I love Halloween, and I love Halloween episodes. So do you. Why else would you be here? Anyways, here's a list of the 11 best Halloween episodes of your favorite shows:

Brooklyn 99 S1 E6: "Halloween"

NBC

Brooklyn 99 has some great Halloween episodes, but nothing beats the original. This one started the annual Halloween Heist to determine The Ultimate Detective/Genius, and all the other seasons' Halloween specials must dwell in its shadow.