Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Simpsons Plan

The mayor recently announced that our city will indeed compete to host the premiere of the upcoming Simpsons movie by proving that ours is the real Springfield. I hate to be pessimistic, but based on what I’ve read, I don’t think we’ve developed a winning strategy.

It seems that we will be betting on the fact that we are home to a donut factory, a power plant, and a bald man who runs the power plant.

Yes there are similarities between our hometown and the animated Springfield, but after 400 episodes of the show, I would think that even the inhabitants of a remote fishing village in Southeast Asia could come up with enough resemblances to stake a claim as the real Springfield (That Nguyen Duy Phong. He always drunk, just like your Barney Gumble!)

The show’s creators aren’t scouting a shooting location or looking to cast parts; they simply want a real life place that captures the spirit of the Springfield that they’ve created. And it’s here that we do have a real advantage, but we won’t sell it by having Fox 55 personalities dress up in Marge and Homer Halloween costumes or coaxing a bad Monty Burns impersonation out of Todd Renfrow. We have to be willing to show our vulnerable side.

Our Springfield, just like Bart’s Springfield, has an inferiority complex. Shelbyville isn’t our Shelbyville, Chicago is our Shelbyville.

We need to convey the jealously that we feel as Illinois’ second city (or third, or fourth). How we seethe with contempt whenever one of their big city newspaper columnists suggests that we live in a backwater burg. How we scream foul when our tax dollars our exported north of I-80. And how the governor of the state refuses to live in the capital city, lest he be contaminated by its corruption. And then we hit them with the story that will surely resonate inside Matt Groening’s soul.

A common plot on the Simpsons involves the town trying to overcome its second-class status by gathering all of the mettle they can muster to achieve some goal that will prove their worthiness to the outside world. And then they fall flat on their face, the victim of their own avarice or ineptitude.

Or in case of the episode titled Marge vs. the Monorail, the victim of a slick con man named Lyle Lanley who rides into town and convinces the city to empty its coffers into his pockets. Sound familiar, long-time Springfield residents?

I’m a little sketchy on the details, but once upon a time a swindler by the name of George Celani convinced us that he was going to bring jobs and wealth to our community by turning Capital Airport into the hub for his fledgling Kayport express shipping empire. Deals were made and money was invested before Celani disappeared into the night. I’m told that a taunting, Nelson-like Ha! Ha! could be heard echoing throughout the city once the swindle was uncovered.

So here is what I propose. We produce a brief mockumentary of the Christopher Guest variety. In it, we convey the message that we’d love to host the movie’s premiere, but that we’re a little leery of slick-talking outsiders offering to put us on the map. Then we tell our woeful story.

Taking considerable dramatic license, we have citizens/actors tell of how they tied their hopes to the coming of this wonderful new enterprise, and how they’re still struggling in the aftermath of those shattered dreams. They could mention the governor refusing to live here and talk about how our annual civic-pride festival had to be cancelled because people got a bit overzealous in drowning their sorrows. Maybe we could even get Richard Roeper or some other Chicago columnist to play himself while heaping ridicule on us poor Springfieldians.

And then the film would end, in true Simpsons spirit, on an optimistic note with the townsfolk again coming together and willing to take another chance to demonstrate our community’s virtues.

With a good script and the right local acting talent, there is great comedic potential in this approach. But this idea will never make it past this blog.

I suspect that those in charge of host-the-Simpsons campaign will take the sunny, happy approach favored by tourism councils and highlight all of the quirky coincidences that tie our Springfield to theirs. And of course they’ll play the Abe card. But I know about Jebediah Springfield and Abraham Lincoln is no Jebediah Springfield. Lincoln is a dignified figure, revered by all and the butt of no jokes. How un-Simpsons like!

8 comments:

The Jolly Bengali said...

I'm from Springfield, but I'm currently living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 99% of the people I've met here in the past three months have mentioned The Simpsons when I tell them I'm from Springfield. It's mildly entertaining. I've heard it so much that I expect it now.

Rock-Robster said...

Dan-

I like your approach! I think we’ll have the competitive edge if we can connect with the more pathetic, sad and wretched elements in our city’s history. I can imagine a few scenes from your mock-umentary that would perfectly relate out past to these great Simpson’s quotes:

"There's no justice like angry-mob justice." (Seymour Skinner) – Anyone remember Springfield, circa 1908??

"Liberty and Justice for Most" (Engraved on the Springfield County Court House) – The only question here would be do we trot out the DUI reports on our Sherriff (wait, they don’t exist!), or focus on the illega events at the old Office North parking lot . . . ?

“A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man,” (Jebediah Springfield) – I’ll never know why this isn’t our official city motto, it’s a perfectly cromulent phrase!

BlogFreeSpringfield said...

R. Robster,

I like the way you think. Your ideas are well-researched and strike the proper tone. I think you should direct the documentary.

And thank you for introducing cromulent into my vocabulary.

Thanks for commenting,
Dan

MsHep said...

Seriously, anyone who has lived outside of Springpatch KNOWS what Springfield this is taken after.

Ummm...Bart...we're going to Effingham. WHAT?

Anonymous said...

Anybody know when the actual "winner" will be announced?

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