Sunday, December 28, 2014

An Historical Perspective

I'm watching "The Simpsons," primarily because I was too lazy to turn off the TV after the Packers-Lions game (Go Pack!!! until next week, when I hope the Cowboys kick your asses.)

The Cowboys destroyed the Redskins today.
Except I hate "Family Guy." So I'm conflicted about this image.

The plot is something silly about Bart refusing to eat broccoli. Whatever. I can't believe that this comedically rich topic hasn't been tackled in any of the previous 110,462 episodes of "The Simpsons," but OK. Anyway, the show began with a scene of Bart and Milhouse watching videos on YouTube. They are delighted that they have officially viewed "every testicle fail video on the Internet."

That triggered something in the hamster wheel that is my brain, so I clicked the mouse a few times. And I confirmed what my tired old brain had been thinking:

When "The Simpsons" debuted in 1989, the World Wide Web hadn't been invented yet.

Tim Berners-Lee, adorable nerd and creator of that whole
"www." thing.
Younger readers, read that again: When "The Simpsons" first aired, there was no World Wide Web. No HTML. No HTTP. Tim Berners-Lee, a software engineer at the large particle physics laboratory CERN in Switzerland, concocted the whole glorious mess that today brings us 24/7 sloth videos and anime porn. But when "The Simpsons" premiered as a weekly series, it contained nary a mention of online gaming or Tumblr, because They. Didn't. Exist.

Also: In the 1995 episode "Radioactive Man," which is totally one of my favorites, Comic Book Guy is seen criticizing the upcoming film adaptation of the titular comic book on various online newsgroups, including alt.comics.radioactiveman. And if you don't know what Usenet newsgroups were, I have a pretty good idea of how old/nerdy you are.

(Disclaimer: I was quite active on a number of newsgroups in the 90s. I never said I wasn't a nerd.)

However, I am (marginally) cuter than Comic Book Guy.
So now it's the freaking 21st century, and nobody thinks twice about the World Wide Web any more. In fact, I've been mocked by my own child for habitually including "www" when I browse the Internet. Old habits for old ladies, I suppose.

I prefer to think that the fact that "The Simpsons" predates the modern Internet says more about the age of the TV show than about the people who were there to watch it from the beginning.

Don't harsh my buzz on this, people. Go watch some "Supernatural" animated gifs or something, why don't you.


  1. I remember back in the day being utterly amazed at the bulletin boards and pseudo - chat rooms my friend used to get on to discuss nerdy things. Now, the Internet is so ingrained in my everyday bring that I don't even think twice about it. In fact, the first computer I used for my schoolwork was a Commodore 64 and the Word Writ r program, and here I am able to check work stuff via emails as I sit on my butt at home. And I check them ON MY PHONE.


  2. I was using a dial-up modem and chatting on bulletin boards before The Simpsons were a space filler on The Tracy Ullman Show.

    I never thought of that before. Wow. I'm a bigger nerd than I realized.


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