The preceding clip is taken from an old episode of The Simpsons. Unbeknownst to many, I get a bit of my pop culture references from TV’s most famous family hehe. In this particular instalment, Homer and the gang head to the cinemas. Upon arriving, they are faced with a trivia question on the screen. Said query featured a celebrity’s silhouette with a question mark added for good measure, with the words ‘MOT HANKS’ written beside it. Lisa was unimpressed, saying the game was child’s play coz the answer was ‘obviously Tom Hanks’.
Apparently, the celebrity was NOT Tom Hanks, but an Indian actor named Otm Shank. Lisa asks, ‘who?’, before Apu says that he is ‘India’s answer to Brian Dennehy’. They then got on with the ads, which go on forever and leaves Homer irate.
I intended to ask my Indian ‘friend’ if he knew Otm, but I never got the chance. He had proved himself well informed as he was familiar with Michelle Jenneke and her warmup moves, ditto with The Beach. He was the only bugger I asked who actually knew of Garland’s debut effort, having read it many moons ago. When I posed this to another friend, he said, ‘who? Otto Spanks?’ When I clarified that it was Otm Shank, he probed, ‘who’s that?’
I remembered chatting with this Norwegian ‘chick’ way back. Upon knowing her nationality, I asked her if dwarfism was more tolerated in Norway. She disagreed. ‘Have you heard about it though?’ Yes, she said, probably from The Simpsons.
So what can we take away from these vignettes? Firstly, don’t be overconfident. At the same time, don’t underestimate Indians. Who would’ve thought that India has an answer to MOT HANKS? You can likewise expand a lot of stories and make riveting fiction with them in the middle. Secondly, we need a respite from the unnerving headlines in recent memory. We do not need another reminder of the tension in Korea, or the travesty of the last US presidential election. Thirdly, Homer’s wrath can be applied today, where cinema advertising drives patrons out of the movies. An average waiting time of 25 minutes is farcical. Lastly, The Simpsons is a great stop gap solution. If you’re totally out of ideas, just deconstruct that comedy. While the cartoon’s writers have The Itchy and Scratchy show, analysing The Simpsons never gets old.