The legendary animated FOX TV series “The Simpsons”, which also happens to be the longest running sitcom and the longest running animated series in the history of American television, had several episodes focused on the future.
Of these, naturally, some were ok and some were appallingly boring or badly written, but the one that shines is “Lisa’s wedding” (episode 19 of season 6, aired in 1995) and this time not because of the writing. No, what we’re talking about here is uncannily accurate predictions of the future in a series which is a seemingly light-hearted and humorous portrayal of an American middle class family (and by the way, the Simpsons never is just that…).
Get ready to be intrigued as we explore the 6 prophecies of the Simpsons Oracle granted to us mortal by the aforementioned future-themed episodes.
1. Fast-food exaggeration
Considering that the show debuted in 1989, it’s pretty darn impressive that it nailed the evolution of fast-food and gastronomical preferences of Americans (and most of the Western World) so well. In a brief TV spot that appears in the “Lisa’s Wedding” episode, the Morning Burger is presented which is: “18 ounces of sizzling ground beef, and soak it in rich creamery butter, then we top it off with bacon, ham and a fried egg”. You see, it’s a prediction because at the time, such a proposal seemed an exaggeration at which the audience would laugh. Nowadays, not so much…
2. Dr. Dre Academy
What was meant as a joke in “Lisa’s Wedding” actually turned into reality, because Dr. Dre and his co-founder of Beats Electronics Jimmy Iovine helped University of Southern California with a 70 million $ donation in May 2013. The purpose of this donation was to set up the “USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation”.
So, yup, the real-life Dre did better than the Dr. Dre and Ms. Dre Hall episode version which was just an accommodation building in the unnamed campus that Lisa and her future husband frequent.
Everybody who saw or heard about it was surely amazed by the Tupac digital “resurrection” which took place in 2012 at Coachella. For those who didn’t however, we’re talking about a projected Tupac singing on-stage again with Snoop Dogg, Dre and Co., a dream come true for many of the rapper’s fans who never got to see him perform live.
Granted, it wasn’t a hologram in the proper technical sense of the word (it was actually done using the “Pepper’s Ghost” technique), but it serves to show that people’s interest for holograms is big at the moment.
Which is what the “Lisa’s Wedding” episode hints at as well as it presents the university campus and its (malfunctioning) holographic tree “planted in memory of a real tree”. The kicker? Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum projection artists managed to create a Christmas tree which appeared to hang in the air inside a hall of the museum. So if we define holography as a “3-D projected object” it appears we have that technology now or are very close to it (as many R&D labs are working on more advanced techniques using lasers etc.).
4. Presidential candidate
Lo and behold! Donald Trump is running for President. Exactly as he did in the the past of the future in the “Bart To The Future” episode. Allow me to explain the confusing statement. In the episode, which takes place in the Simpsons (then) future or our approximate present, Lisa is President of the USA and her biggest challenge is to solve the financial crisis in which the USA was plunged by the actions of the former President Donald Trump and his administration (namely his campaign to “invest in children”… ).
Point is, the Simpsons not only foresaw Donald Trump’s candidacy, but also his victory. We’ll have to wait and see if that turns out to be true as well.
“Lisa’s wedding” features a robot librarian who also has emotions, which unfortunately cause him to short-circuit and explode, due to the tears he sheds.
Though (thankfully!) not with quite the same explosive feature, we also have robots nowadays which fit the prediction. The library robots we have operating now (like the one at National Audiovisual Archive of Hungary [NAVA], in Budapest) are not humanoid because that wasn’t deemed necessary as they are not used for interfacing with clients, just for behind-the scenes organization and book retrieving. However, there have been announcements that humanoid robots to function as a client interface are going to be introduced in libraries soon.
As for humanoid robots that can display emotions, one version of this has already been built in Japan. “Pepper” can display emotions like joy, surprise, anger, doubt and sadness and even “audibly sigh when unhappy”.
6. A great irony
In the Season 9, Episode 12 “Bart Carny”, Marge is trying to get Lisa and Bart do necessary yard work with very little success. At some point there’s even the dialogue between Bart and Lisa: “There’s gotta be a way out of this… quick, Lisa: chop off my hands.” “No! Then who’ll chop off my hands?”.
But later in the episode as they go to a Carnival that’s in town, Bart baffles Marge as he says that he wants to go to the high-tech Yard Work Simulator, to which Marge replies: “But when I ask you to do yard work…” and sighs without understanding.
A look at our present times will reveal plenty of simulators which are recently gaining lots of popularity, even in the kids age range and that feature non-action and destruction packed themes like the tank or fighter jet simulators of the past.
I’m referring for example to the very popular “Euro Truck Simulator” or the even more popular (especially among kids) “Farmville”. Who can fathom teens and kids appeal to a technological, tedious version of the hated real-life, tedious original?