Steve Jobs on The Simpsons


Apple and its customers raised the image of their precious iPod to an almost Holy Grail status. However, one can always rely upon satire to chop down the lofty pedestal of the proud. The sharpest axe in American satire is also one of the most popular television series in U.S history - The Simpsons. Episode seven of season twenty, Mypods and Broomsticks, summarised the hubris of Steve and his customers in just three short acts. It begins as a Mapple (Apple) Store opens in town of Springfield. Lisa Simpson, the snooty liberal, easily fills the role as the perfect Mapple customer.
“It’s so sterile”, Lisa gasps with awe as she looks up at the glass palace emblazoned with the Mapple logo (the Apple logo with two bites rather than one).
Perched at the Braniac (Genius) Bar is an overweight pony-tailed geek, ComicBookGuy:
"My question is the following statement. Operating System 4.2 has sloppier architecture than a Tijuana ant hill."

Braniac: "Did you get peanut butter in your Ethernet cord again?"

ComicBookGuy: "No, I got mayonnaise in the CD drive."

Lisa's father, Homer, is staring with wonder at a row of glowing Cubes.

"I see you're admiring our MyCube. It's fuelled by dreams and powered by imagination," says a cool soul-patched sales rep.

Homer: “What does it do?"

Salesman: "You should ask yourself "What can I do for it?"

Homer is on his knees in front of the cube: "OK, what can I do for you? Please I'm begging you..."

Salesman: "Sir, it's not even turned on yet."

Homer: "But it's glowing."

Salesman: "That light confirms that it's off."

Lisa is at the retail bench: "I can't afford any of your products but can I buy some fake white ear buds so people will think I have a MyPod?"

Saleswoman: "Sure. Those are called MyPhonies. Oh... And they cost $40."
Lisa puts away her money: "Oh I'll never get a Mapple anything."

Local clown, Krusty walks through the store complaining: "I hate this MyPod. I can't watch movies on a screen this small and the music today... Don't get me started... Here kid, you take it.” He throws the Mypod to very grateful Lisa.
An announcement is heard on the Mapple store speakers: "Attention, Mapple Universe. Prepare for a live announcement from Mapple founder and Chief Imaginative Officer Steve Mobbs."
The crowd gasps:
"Steve Mobbs!"
"He's a genius!"

"He's like a god who knows what we want," exclaims one hipster goateed Mapple fan-boy.

Steve Mobbs appears on giant video screen. Rather than the resonant voice of God, Steve has a weasily lisp: "Greetings! It is I, your insanely great leader, Steve Mobbs. I'm speaking to you from Mapple headquarters, deep below the sea (a mythical narwhale swims in the background), with an announcement that will completely change the way you look at everything. (The crowd gasps and begin to pull money from their wallets.) And that announcement is-" 

Lisa's brother Bart plugs a microphone into the sound system and overides Mobbs' announcement:

"You're all losers! You think you're cool because you buy a five-hundred-dollar phone with a picture of a fruit on it? Well, guess what. They cost eight bucks to make and I pee on every one!"
The crowd drop their Mapple gadgets on the floor in disgust. 

Bart: "I have made a fortune off you chumps and I've invested it all in Microsoft. Now my boyfriend Bill Gates and I kiss each other on a pile of your money!" 

ComicBookGuy: "Traitor! Your heart is blacker than your turtleneck!" 

Inspired by Steve’s 1984 Mac commercial, the blubbering and disillusioned ComicBook Guy charges the screen with a large sledge hammer. He throws it in slow motion at Steve’s Big Brother video image.

Mapple Employee: "Who dares question the boss we fired ten years ago and then brought back?" 

Lisa:  "It was my brother, Bart!" 

Mapple Employee: "Flay him with your ear-buds! Flay him, I say!" 

All the Mapple staff take off their ear-buds, twirl them in the air medieval-style, and advance upon Bart. He backs up then spots and MyCube. Bart presses its button hoping for assistance
“MyCube, take me away”. The cube does nothing but display the current time and play the song, ”Lovin you is easy cos you’re beautiful.”

Bart escapes outside and complains, 

“Stupid angry mob chasin’ me because I shine a harsh light on modern society.”

The next day, a big beautiful box with the Mapple logo is home-delivered to Lisa. 

“It’s a gift from Mapple. Oh, such beautiful packaging! I never thought a company could be my soul-mate."

Inside is a bill the size of a Tolkien fantasy epic. The MyBill total is $1200. Lisa faints.  

Later, Lisa attempts to confront Steve about the MyBill. She is transported underwater in a giant USB stick. As it plugs into the side of Steve’s Bond-villain style underwater lair, a voice-over announces, “Welcome to Mapple headquarters, the cost of this journey will be added to your bill”.

Steve is surfing the net using a giant Minority Report-style multi-screen holographic computer. He is Googling his name to see how many results he can tally. “Yes! sixteen million results ”. An assistant enters, “Mr Mobbs, there’s a surface dweller here to see you, MyTunes member jazzgal62”  

Steve: “Mmm, oh, Lisa Simpson, send her in!” 

She walks in the with the brick sized bill.

Steve: “Lisa! Its insanely great to see you” 

Lisa: “Um, Mr Mobbs … I …sort of ..downloaded too many songs onto my MyPod. I don’t have the money to pay for them.” 

Tears well in her eyes.

Steve: “I’m sorry, I know our posters say ‘Think differently’ (finally Apple's bad grammar is corrected), but our real slogan is ‘No Refund’.” 

Lisa: “Can’t you open your Mapple menu and click on the compassion bar? oh please.” 

Steve: “Lisa, how would you like to work for Mapple?” 

Lisa: “Hah! Would I ever!”

The next shot shows Lisa dressed up as a giant disgruntled MyPod begging on a street corner for people to “Think Differently”.

This harsh dig at Steve was broadcast only ten months after he called The Simpsons Movie one of “the great films of the year” at Macworld. Later in the conference, the owner of the show, Fox Chairman, Paul Gianopulos, announced that “Homer’s on board” with Apple. Consider, if you will, that it takes less than ten months to create one episode. Despite plugging the show, Steve learnt that no one is immune from the sharp pencils of show’s writers.

In a wonderful example of the law of ‘six degrees of separation’, Lisa Simpson’s Grandmother was named after Steve’s sister, Mona. Her ex-husband, Richard Appel, was a writer for the series.[1]
The Unofficial Apple Website invited feedback from members about the episode. Note that these comments are written by Apple fans:

"Satire or not, the notion that think different is ultimately just a slogan is pretty dead on."

"Wow, probably the smartest, yet easiest to get, answer to the changes Apple underwent in the past years yet… Apple has become nothing more than a money loving company not listening to its customers anymore… overpriced and hyped by the best salesman known to man and sought after by an immense number of "want" customers."

"I was a pretty funny rip on Apple even for us fanboys."[2]

Nice to see fan-boys can laugh at  themselves.



[1] McGee, C. (2010, July 28) Mona Simpson Writes For Crowds and Avoids Them. Washington Post

[2] Palmer, R. (2008, December 1)The Simpsons Take on Mapple. Tuaw.com. Retrieved from http://www.tuaw.com/2008/12/01/the-simpsons-take-on-mapple/

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