The Simpsons/The Computer Wore Menace Shoes
The Computer Wore Menace Shoes is the sixth episode of the twelfth season of The Simpsons, and the two-hundred and fifty-fourth episode overall. Homer creates a website designed to air the rumors of Springfield, but when his sources run out he turns to broadcasting lies for attention.
The nuclear power plant is closed for fumigation, but Homer showed up for work anyway because he doesn't have a computer and doesn't have e-mail. He decides that it would be in his best interests to buy a computer so that he can get e-mail. Of course, he's easily manipulated by the salesman and winds up with a $5,000 computer. He sets it up in his kitchen and tries to get it to kill Ned, but gets frustrated when it won't obey him. After getting some help from Lisa, Homer creates an obnoxious website with dancing Jesus and a great deal of animations and noises. When he asks Lisa's opinion on it, she tells him that he could be sued because he just copied several copyrighted images and sounds for his website. He masks his identity by calling himself "Mr. X."
Homer spends the rest of the day waiting for someone to visit his website but no one shows any interest. Lisa explains to her father that a website needs to offer people something, to which Homer responds by reformatting his website into a rumor mill for the town. His first tip comes from Bart, who says that Nelson told him that the Mayor spent the street repair fund on a secret swimming pool for himself. The website quickly spreads across town and leads the press to investigate and the mayor is foiled. Hungry for more attention, Mr. X starts picking up tips across town from people like Apu, although he ignores Krusty even though his secret is much more interesting than week old donuts. Later, Homer nearly blows his identity as Mr. X by being obviously facetious at Moe's bar, but manages to keep it under wraps despite Moe offering Mr. X a free beer if he were to come around.
At work, Homer stumbles across the biggest scoop of his career: Mr. Burns selling uranium to Middle Eastern terrorists. He posts the story on his website, causing the FBI to drag Burns away. But, when Mr. X is awarded the Pulitzer Prize, Homer breaks his identity once and for all in order to claim the cash award. But, now that Homer has outed himself, no one wants to talk around him. So, instead, Homer starts to make up news for his website like the government controlling peoples' minds with flu shots. Faking the news gets Homer into trouble, however, and he's kidnapped by a tractor trailer made up to look like the Quik-E-Mart.
Homer awakes on a strange island because he "knows something." Homer tries to report a really weird island in a phone booth, but is gassed by the receiver. He awakens again in a room dressed like several other men, including a blind man named Number 15. When asked what number he is, Homer observes that he's Number Five, one more than a man he meets who goes by Number Six. Six explains that everyone is on the island because they know too much. Homer awakens one more time and meets a man who is presumably the leader of the village. He tells Homer that even though his flu shot story was made up, it turns out to be true and they're the ones putting mind control additives in the shots in order to drive people into a shopping frenzy.
Homer declares that his family won't rest until they find his "drugged bloated corpse," but the leader insists that Homer is walking in the door right now. A man who looks exactly like Homer except with a German accent, but everyone just accepts him as their father. Meanwhile, on the island, Number Six has devised a way out of the island using a raft. However, Homer pushes Number Six down and steals the raft, making his way out to sea. He then pops the "anti-escape orb" with one of the forks that built the base. Eventually, Homer makes it back to Springfield and attempts to warn everyone about the island using his website. But, the words fall off the page and the German Homer attempts to kill him. Homer comes out on top in the fight, but the entire family is suddenly gassed by the dog and brought back to the island.
- Blackboard: I Will Only Provide a Urine Sample When Asked
- Couch Gag: The Simpsons come in, only to see Santa's Little Helper doing the Snoopy dance in the middle of the living room. He realizes they're staring at him, stops dancing and yelps.
- 5x15 - Deep Space Homer: Homer actually was briefly an astronaut when Barney failed the test and NASA had no choice but to take on Homer as the final member of the space team. He went into space on a mission to witness the behavior of ants in a zero G environment, but ultimately his journey was overshadowed by the inanimate carbon rod he used to close the space shuttle door during reentry.
- Homer: I was an astronaut.
- In Joke: The scene in which Lisa says that Homer could be sued for stealing copyrighted images is likely a reference to FOX patrolling the internet for websites created about their programs in the late 1990s and systematically shutting them down for copyright violations. Many of these websites relented quickly after receiving a cease-and-desist order due to the hosting of sound files, video clips or even entire episodes.
Behind the Scenes
- Reproduction: Shortly before this episode was first aired, FOX put up a reproduced version of Mr. X's website as a satellite site of the official Simpsons site. The website is a fairly accurate reproduction of Homer's stories with the exception of the poor grammar and spelling that Skinner noted.
Allusions and References
- The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes: The title of the episode is a play on the 1969 Disney film The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes. The film is about a college student who suffers a shock while installing his new computer and winds up absorbing all of the information on its hard drive.
- The New York Times: The tagline that Homer uses for his website is "All the Muck That's Fit to Rake," a parody of the New York Times slogan "All the News That's Fit to Print." Homer's slogan also references "Muckrakers," a term coined in the late 1800s to describe investigative journalists for newspapers, particularly those who worked for William Randolph Hearst.
- The Prisoner: The island that Homer is brought to is a reference to the cult ITV television series The Prisoner, starring episode guest Patrick McGoohan as Number Six. In the series, Number Six is an ex-spy who resigned from his post. However, before he can escape, he is gassed and brought to a village where people are referred to as numbers. Much of the show revolves around Six attempting to outsmart the island administrators and escaping, but is often thwarted by the balloon that Homer pops in the episode.