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Friday, August 31, 2012

D\'Oh! Eastwood\'s Convention Speech Spawns Fake \'Simpsons\' Meme


In the words of that great animated philosopher Homer J. Simpson: “When are people going to learn? Democracy doesn't work.” Sometimes the same can be said for social media.

In the wake of Clint Eastwood's unusual exchange with an empty chair representing President Obama at the Republican National Convention on Thursday night, the collective creativity of the Internet has generated countless illustrations and other widely circulated memes making light of the speech. (Including at least one rejoinder that came from the President's own Twitter account.)

But another humorous image, made to look like it came from an episode of “The Simpsons,” overstates the predictive power of that satirical Fox c artoon series.

This particular meme, which has spread rapidly on social networks like Twitter and Facebook, shows the cantankerous character Grampa Simpson in a newspaper clipping, shaking his fist in a photograph beneath the headline “Old Man Yells at Chair.” The image is often accompanied by captions reading: “The Simpsons' Knew It Was Coming.”

Though rival animators have previously expressed their awed frustration at the ability of “Simpsons” writers to beat them to every possible joke and plotline, in this case, “The Simpsons” didn't do it.

That image of Grampa Simpson, created by a thus-far anonymous denizen of the Web, is an alteration of a gag that appeared in a 2002 “Simpsons” episode called “The Old Man and the Key”: lacking a photograph for a driver's license, Grampa displays an old newspaper article whose headline reads: “Old Man Yells At Cloud.”

The original “cloud” joke has been referenced around the Intern et for years, often invoked in arguments where one or both sides appear to be growing especially heated over nothing particularly important.

On Friday, “Simpsons” executive producer Al Jean reluctantly acknowledged that he and his colleagues did not have quite enough foresight to anticipate Mr. Eastwood's speech.

“We didn't predict this but we GUARANTEE the world will end December 21,” Mr. Jean wrote in an e-mail. “Save money by not booking any holiday plans!”