In the past several weeks, @Homer_Marijuana has really come into its own. Also known as Marijuana Simpson, the Twitter account poses the question: "what if Homer Simpson smoked weed?" Apparently, "it's not that crazy to imagine."
At first glance it seems like an easy gimmick. The Simpsons…ON WEED! "4:20 do the bartman" and so on. Harnessing 90s pop culture to attract attention online is like shooting fish in a gigantic fucking pile of fish. With many seemingly similar accounts out there, @Homer_Marijuana might feel late or an unneeded addition enjoyable only to those who love the Simpson family and smoking the dankest of nugs.
That may be true. But the dark gem at the locus of Marijuana Simpson (referring to the larger body of work rather than the account itself) is something amazingly unique. But first, what is it? Just stony Simpson's jokes?
While marijuana plays a ridiculously large part of the story, Marijuana Simpson is a continuing narrative examining the Simpson family, and other citizens of Springfield, struggling to make peace with their existence in an extremely dark and realistic parallel universe. Through the hydroponic haze we see the Simpson family torn apart due to many years of weed addiction and hardships. Bart served in Iraq and is still struggling with the PTSD he brought home. Maggie is talking—chiefing too. There's a second boy now, Ken, but he's in prison. (And as of today strangled to death during a prison-hit ordered by Chief Wiggum, his last words, "marijuana has torn this family apart.") I won't spoil too much more of it for you. To give you a taste of its style, however, here's Lisa and Maggie reminiscing about the past:
So yeah, it's pretty heavy. Especially when you get to Moe's inner turmoil. I'll let you come across those gems on your own. I think it's just fucking hilarious, even sometimes beautiful, majestic, but what makes @Homer_Marijuana so much more than just a funny twitter account? It's a longer, more structured storytelling execution than say @TweenHobo or @Seinfeld2000. While both of those accounts do a fine job of thematically painting a character, or scene, they are primarily one-off jokes and stray observations. Through a particular lens, of course, and deftly written in their respective voices, the other accounts feel seat-of-the-pants, untethered.
The appropriation of these characters, these fictional yellow people that almost every American knows, lets the writer of Marijuana Simpson do something many television remakes and reboots fail to do (granted, there's no censorship on channel Twitter). By using such ubiquitous characters, they can nearly project a TV show to you through text. Homer doesn't have to say "d'oh" and obsess over donuts here. Yet, throughout the story we learn the new Homer he's become, but he's still Homer. When you read the tweets aren't you picturing the scenes as well? The amount of possibilities here is wonderful and vast, given the ease with which one can play with these well-known figures. Context clues and exposition give insight into which parts of these people have changed, sometimes drastically, but still leaving a clear building block and certain particular qualities of the character in the reader's imagination.
Which is largely the appeal of fanfic, sure, but the pairing here with Twitter obviously makes it easier to consume. The thematic derailments present are far enough away that we're not just getting fan hopes fulfilled, not just a tweaked version of the main recipe, but an entirely new piece of literature and entertainment to absorb. And while similar experiments have been done on the platform, even a friend's livetweet is in this wheelhouse, the grout of this story is The Simpsons, which makes it outrageously accessible.
Ideally, this could exist on television, done with a wide selection of classic shows and cult favorites. Unfortunately the legal tangles would suffocate the life out of anything of this caliber. But is it exactly plagiaristic? Maybe this form of Twitter Television can grow, even change shape in the hands of its writers—like the remix/mashup/sampling world of television, parsed out in tiny bites for the culture consumer on the go. If that ends up being the case, that this fleshes out into its own genre, I'm all for it. Especially if the quality even comes close to that of Marijuana Simpson. Now spark some dankey kang and catch up if you already haven't.