I Tried to Get a ‘Simpsons’ Writer to Admit That the US and Fox Orchestrated the Arab Spring 
Conspiracy theories about politics and the US are as big of a cultural staple in the Middle East as hummus and pita.
In Egypt, the news broadcasters served as Mubarak’s puppets until 2011 when independent news sources popped up after the uprising. State-run news still exists in Egypt, and censorship is far from gone. Journalists face imprisonment on charges for anything from defamation to terrorism if the network they’re associated with “disturbs the peace”—basically talks smack about the government. It’s not just journalists; a puppet was accused back in January for “sending coded messages of terrorism” in a Vodafone commercial.
Since Egyptians don’t know who to trust, their imaginations often run wild, conjuring their own ideas and stories about “what’s really happening” to make sense of the chaos that surrounds them. Stories usually involve Zionism, the US, and the Muslim Brotherhood in some diabolical and fantastical plan on the basis of zero logic.
Like how The Simpsons episode, “New Kids on the Blecch,” from 2001 proves US involvement in the Syrian uprising. 
A quick plot refresher: In this episode, Bart, Milhouse, Nelson, and Ralph form a boy band the Party Posse, make a hit song called “Drop Da Bomb,” and in the music video, they drop a bomb on what appears to be an unknown Arab country but the Syrian opposition flag is prominently displayed on the jeep. Since the flag didn’t exist and the Syrian opposition wasn’t a thing in 2001, the conspiracy theorists took to Facebook and claimed that the US has been behind the Arab Spring the whole time. The revolutionaries are either foreign-backed, no-good scum trying to destabilize the region OR they had responded to subliminal messages sent through American pop culture that would only be in syndication in the Arab world years later therefore the collapse of the region couldn’t be traced back to the US government. Pretty fucking clever.
Well, these devious US antics couldn’t possibly get past the people who gave the world beer and algebra. The theory quickly migrated from social media to the actual news on May 5, when Tahrir TV anchor, Rania Badwy, aired the music video segment of the episode. In her analysis she points out that the conspiracy started on Facebook but she ends with, “The episode was created in 2001 before the Syrian opposition even existed… This raises many question marks about the Arab Spring and about when this global conspiracy began.” 
Who knows! Maybe the US actually mapped out the Syria uprising 13 years ago, and the hard evidence is this Simpsons episode. Did the US send subliminal messages to the Arab youth so they’d revolt against their leaders? My Egyptian blood might’ve been jonesing for a good conspiracy, but I needed validation. There was only one way to find out, so I called up Tim Long, the writer of the “New Kids on the Blecch” episode, and tried to get him to admit to me that the US actually orchestrated the Arab Spring.
VICE: I just want you to know that this is a safe space, and you can be honest with me. Did you know that the Free Syrian Army would exist 13 years ago when you wrote the episode?Tim Long: I’ve been making a lot of jokes about how I totally knew and that was the secret reason I wrote it. I don’t want to make that joke in print, because people take these things very seriously. I will say to you that I did not know that.
So it wasn’t a subliminal message sent to the Arab youth to revolt against their leaders?It so wasn’t and the whole thing is so headachey, because the thing about being a comedy writer is that you’re a coward and you’re not willing to take stand on anything, much less a conflict that I don’t even begin to understand. It’s hilarious. The ironic thing about this [episode] is that it’s about subliminal messages. The idea is the Bart and his friends are recruited to join a boy band, but it turns out that the guy who recruited them is using it as a recruitment tool for the US Navy. There are all sorts of backward sentences in the song; it’s not a small episode in terms of its scope. Crazy things happened, but we did not take into account that it would somehow fuel the Syrian uprising.
Continue

I Tried to Get a ‘Simpsons’ Writer to Admit That the US and Fox Orchestrated the Arab Spring 

Conspiracy theories about politics and the US are as big of a cultural staple in the Middle East as hummus and pita.

In Egypt, the news broadcasters served as Mubarak’s puppets until 2011 when independent news sources popped up after the uprising. State-run news still exists in Egypt, and censorship is far from gone. Journalists face imprisonment on charges for anything from defamation to terrorism if the network they’re associated with “disturbs the peace”—basically talks smack about the government. It’s not just journalists; a puppet was accused back in January for “sending coded messages of terrorism” in a Vodafone commercial.

Since Egyptians don’t know who to trust, their imaginations often run wild, conjuring their own ideas and stories about “what’s really happening” to make sense of the chaos that surrounds them. Stories usually involve Zionism, the US, and the Muslim Brotherhood in some diabolical and fantastical plan on the basis of zero logic.

Like how The Simpsons episode, “New Kids on the Blecch,” from 2001 proves US involvement in the Syrian uprising. 

A quick plot refresher: In this episode, Bart, Milhouse, Nelson, and Ralph form a boy band the Party Posse, make a hit song called “Drop Da Bomb,” and in the music video, they drop a bomb on what appears to be an unknown Arab country but the Syrian opposition flag is prominently displayed on the jeep. Since the flag didn’t exist and the Syrian opposition wasn’t a thing in 2001, the conspiracy theorists took to Facebook and claimed that the US has been behind the Arab Spring the whole time. The revolutionaries are either foreign-backed, no-good scum trying to destabilize the region OR they had responded to subliminal messages sent through American pop culture that would only be in syndication in the Arab world years later therefore the collapse of the region couldn’t be traced back to the US government. Pretty fucking clever.

Well, these devious US antics couldn’t possibly get past the people who gave the world beer and algebra. The theory quickly migrated from social media to the actual news on May 5, when Tahrir TV anchor, Rania Badwy, aired the music video segment of the episode. In her analysis she points out that the conspiracy started on Facebook but she ends with, “The episode was created in 2001 before the Syrian opposition even existed… This raises many question marks about the Arab Spring and about when this global conspiracy began.” 

Who knows! Maybe the US actually mapped out the Syria uprising 13 years ago, and the hard evidence is this Simpsons episode. Did the US send subliminal messages to the Arab youth so they’d revolt against their leaders? My Egyptian blood might’ve been jonesing for a good conspiracy, but I needed validation. There was only one way to find out, so I called up Tim Long, the writer of the “New Kids on the Blecch” episode, and tried to get him to admit to me that the US actually orchestrated the Arab Spring.

VICE: I just want you to know that this is a safe space, and you can be honest with me. Did you know that the Free Syrian Army would exist 13 years ago when you wrote the episode?
Tim Long: I’ve been making a lot of jokes about how I totally knew and that was the secret reason I wrote it. I don’t want to make that joke in print, because people take these things very seriously. I will say to you that I did not know that.

So it wasn’t a subliminal message sent to the Arab youth to revolt against their leaders?
It so wasn’t and the whole thing is so headachey, because the thing about being a comedy writer is that you’re a coward and you’re not willing to take stand on anything, much less a conflict that I don’t even begin to understand. It’s hilarious. The ironic thing about this [episode] is that it’s about subliminal messages. The idea is the Bart and his friends are recruited to join a boy band, but it turns out that the guy who recruited them is using it as a recruitment tool for the US Navy. There are all sorts of backward sentences in the song; it’s not a small episode in terms of its scope. Crazy things happened, but we did not take into account that it would somehow fuel the Syrian uprising.

Continue

We talked to Nick, the 23-year-old man who was ordered to pay FOX $10.5 million dollars for running websites such as “Watch The Simpsons Online.”

We talked to Nick, the 23-year-old man who was ordered to pay FOX $10.5 million dollars for running websites such as “Watch The Simpsons Online.”

'Bartkira' Is the Parodic Bastard Child of the 'Simpsons' and 'Akira'
You might recognize the name James Harvey—his comics have frequently appeared on this site. James has recently taken on a bizarrely ambitious project, which he is calling Bartkira. He is having the entire 2,000 plus pages of the manga Akira redrawn with Simpsons characters in the place of series’ familiar protagonists. For example, Bart is Kaneda and Milhouse is Tetsuo. 
Each cartoonist gets to pick a set of six pages to redraw and those pages will be added to the book. It is a pretty crazy undertaking considering the source material for this parody is one of the longest running comics ever and it seems to be begging for a cease and desist order from either the Simpsons or Akira. 
Anyway, I wanted to ask James why he was making such a cool and stupid project. 
VICE: So James what’s this Bartkira thing about? When’d you get the idea?James Harvey: The first guy to do a Bartkira drawing was Ryan Humphries, a UK artist. He redrew these pages that showed the moment Akira destroys Neo-Tokyo, but redrawing Akira as Bart and the Colonel as Homer. His drawings were simplistic and quickly rendered, totally at odds with the super-detailed, maximalist approach that we associate with artists like Kastuhiro Otomo. But the power and the energy of Otomo’s compositions and layouts survived intact.

Something I heard recently is that a group of German sociologists did an expansive study into art and literature and concluded that the amount of major ambitious works of art being undertaken has sharply declined. I don’t know how you’d prove that, but then again it seems like a bit of a no-brainer—how many novels like War and Peace were written last year? Or in the last 100 years? As the speed of communication increases, the speed of art increases too. A lot of my favorite cartoonists are making these haiku-like micro-comics designed for a Twitter and Tumblr audience. None of the cartoonists I know are undertaking major epic works like the ones we grew up on—like Akira, which is a shame, to me.
Continue

'Bartkira' Is the Parodic Bastard Child of the 'Simpsons' and 'Akira'

You might recognize the name James Harvey—his comics have frequently appeared on this site. James has recently taken on a bizarrely ambitious project, which he is calling Bartkira. He is having the entire 2,000 plus pages of the manga Akira redrawn with Simpsons characters in the place of series’ familiar protagonists. For example, Bart is Kaneda and Milhouse is Tetsuo. 

Each cartoonist gets to pick a set of six pages to redraw and those pages will be added to the book. It is a pretty crazy undertaking considering the source material for this parody is one of the longest running comics ever and it seems to be begging for a cease and desist order from either the Simpsons or Akira

Anyway, I wanted to ask James why he was making such a cool and stupid project. 

VICE: So James what’s this Bartkira thing about? When’d you get the idea?
James Harvey: The first guy to do a Bartkira drawing was Ryan Humphries, a UK artist. He redrew these pages that showed the moment Akira destroys Neo-Tokyo, but redrawing Akira as Bart and the Colonel as Homer. His drawings were simplistic and quickly rendered, totally at odds with the super-detailed, maximalist approach that we associate with artists like Kastuhiro Otomo. But the power and the energy of Otomo’s compositions and layouts survived intact.

Something I heard recently is that a group of German sociologists did an expansive study into art and literature and concluded that the amount of major ambitious works of art being undertaken has sharply declined. I don’t know how you’d prove that, but then again it seems like a bit of a no-brainer—how many novels like War and Peace were written last year? Or in the last 100 years? As the speed of communication increases, the speed of art increases too. A lot of my favorite cartoonists are making these haiku-like micro-comics designed for a Twitter and Tumblr audience. None of the cartoonists I know are undertaking major epic works like the ones we grew up on—like Akira, which is a shame, to me.

Continue

Nick Gazin talks to Johnny Ryan for Comic Book Love-In #73

Nick Gazin talks to Johnny Ryan for Comic Book Love-In #73