Friday, 3 December 2010

HOMER’S PHOBIA


SEASON 8 EPISODE 15 (EPISODE 168)

THIS IS IT:
Homer’s Phobia is the episode with John Waters guesting as a local kitsch store owner the whole family befriends except for Homer.  It begins in the Simpsons’ basement where Bart is hosting his own lottery the “Super Barto Jackpot Brine” by placing numbered balls in the family washer dryer.  Things go wrong when a ball gets lodged in the cycle causing it to jam and shake/vibrate out of its fixings as Bart and his friends (including Milhouse and Ralph) run from the basement with flames being shot from the dislodged connection.  The next thing seen is a van from Springfield Gas Company outside the Simpson house driving away having mended the washer leaving a repair bill of $900.  After grimacing at the amount Homer resigns himself to having to “dip into the retirement fund again”.  From here we cut to the address of the Springfield Gas Company which reveals itself to be attached to a large bottle of pennies which Homer is breaking his back on to lift and send off.  Unfortunately Homer barely gets through the front door of his house with the pennies as he accidentally drops the bottle which falls through the ground.  Looking down the hole created Homer yells “hello?  China?”  Returning to Marge the family assemble in the front room as she announces “well, I never thought it would come to this.  I guess we’ll just have to sell Grandma’s civil war doll”.  At this point Lisa asks if she really wants to sell a family heirloom to pay a gas bill.  When asked what her grandma would say about the situation Marge pipes up “I am sure she would be proud about her descendents have piping hot water and plenty of warm dry underwear” to which Homer agrees “that is so true”.  The Simpsons go to Springfield Mall to sell the doll ending up in collectibles store Cockamamies.  Already in the store is Seymour Skinner looking at US Campaign buttons but being discouraged by them being “all partisan.  Don’t you have any neutral ones?  May the better man win?  Let have a good clean election.  That kind of thing?”  The sales assistant points him towards some buttons (“they’re kooky”) at which point disgusted Skinner tells her that she has just lost a sale.  Lisa and Bart are somewhat more impressed as they head over to an actual robot from the movie Clank, Clank, You’re Dead.  Lisa then wonders “think of how awful it would have been for the poor midget inside” as the front opens after they walk off to reveal a small skeleton inside.  Elsewhere in the store Marge finds herself excited by the discovery of a TV Guide, featuring Laverne & Shirley on the cover, which was owned by Jackie Onassis (it still has her address sticker attached to the cover).  At this point the storeowner John appears adding “you should see the crossword puzzle, she thought that Mindy lived with Mark”.  Immediately Homer jumps to her defence “give her a break, her husband was killed!”  With this John asks if he can help as Marge states they have brought something to sell and he responds “please tell me its your hair”.  Upon inspecting the civil war figurine John points out that it is actually a Johnny Reb bottle from the early 1970s, one of the J&R Whiskey Liquor Lads which was purchased for two books of Green Stamps.  Marge responds in denial of it being a liquor bottle as John promptly twists off the top and pours a drink.  Defeated Marge resigns herself to “I guess it will always be a monument to Grandma’s secret drinking problem”.  Angered and annoyed Homer responds “OK so that thing is a hunk of junk but look at what you’re selling”.  John tries to explain the appeal of his items with the colours and graphics stating “its camp!” to which Homer responds blank faced.  John adds “tragically ludicrous?  The ludicrously tragic?”  Finally Homer thinks he has it as he says “oh yeah, like when a clown dies”.  He doesn’t get it.  Still trying John offers further examples of “inflatable furniture, last supper TV trays or even this bowling shirt.  Can you believe somebody gave this to goodwill?”  It is a Pin Pals bowling shirt with Homer inscribed over the chest pocket which prompts a guilty Marge to shrink away before questions are asked.  Slowly understanding Homer asks “and that kind of stuff is worth money?  Man, you should come over to our place, its full of valuable worthless crap”.  And with that John is invited over for 5PM (“the snacking hour” according to Homer).  For his visit Marge makes her patented Happy Cracker Snack Platter.  John loves their house “oh man, you weren’t kiddin’ about this place, well I just love it” as Homer sits on the couch watching bowling having forgotten about his invitation (“do I know you?”).  From here John continues to rummage through their house including the record collection.  With this Homer asks if the records have camp value as John responds “everything does, you yourself are worth a bundle Homer, I could wrap a bow around you and slap on a price tag”.  At this point John puts on a disco record (“I Love The Nightlife” by Alicia Bridges) and encourages Homer to dance as in the kitchen Lisa, Bart and Marge extol his virtues (“and your father has certainly taken the shine to him”) as at the end of the song Homer bumps John with his bum prompting the response “oh Homer, you are the living end”.  Next morning Homer comes down to breakfast declaring “that John is the greatest guy in the world, we’ve got to have him and his wife over for drinks sometime”.  Responding Marge says “I don’t think he’s married Homer” causing him to comment “oh, a swinging bachelor, eh?  Well there’s lots of foxy ladies out there”.  Realising that Homer isn’t clocking that John is gay tactfully Marge asks “didn’t John seem a little festive to you?”  Eventually Marge just has to shout “he prefers the company of men” at Homer as still he doesn’t see it responding “who doesn’t?”  Finally Marge says “listen to me carefully: John is a ho-mo-sexual” prompting Homer to scream.  For some reason Homer is freaked about by this news/information.  He is spooked that he “danced with a gay” forcing Lisa to promise that she won’t tell anyone.  Annoyed by his reaction (“you’re being ridiculous”) Marge informs Homer that John has invited everyone for a drive today.  With this they continue to argue until a car horn playing “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” is heard outside.  Wondering what the noise is Homer pops his head out to the front window to reveal John at the wheel of his car with zebra seat covers with him firing a toy ray gun at Homer saying “zap!”  Remaining stubborn Homer refuses to even say hello to John as the rest of the family get in his car.  Also in the car with them is a Santa robot from Japan where it is called “Annual Gift Man” and lives on the moon.  Driving through town John gives the family a tour of all the notorious spots (“and there was where Kent Brockman was caught cheating in the Springfield Marathon”).  He takes them to the Sha-Boom Ka-Boom! atomic café.  Inside Bart thanks John for the “killer tour” as Lisa adds “I never realised how many celebrities humiliated themselves right in our own backyard”.  At this point Smithers walks past and spots John who introduces the Simpsons to him as he responds “so this is your sick mother?”  Marge returns home laughing as Homer enquires “what happened?  He didn’t give you gay did he?”  Angered Marge snaps “you don’t even know what you’re worried about anymore.  John’s a witty, urbane person” prompting Homer state “oh and I’m not?”  At this point Bart comes running up saying “hey dad, look what I got” as he points a ray gun at him and says “zap!” just like John earlier.  Later Homer is on the couch watching TV and drinking a beer as Bart walks past wearing a Hawaiian shirt.  Promptly Homer grabs him asking “where’d you get that shirt?” to which he responds “I dunno, came out of the closet”.  Later at dinner Marge emerges with their favourite dessert: store bought snack cakes as Homer agonises whether Bart selects chocolate or pink frosting.  When he selects the latter (the gay) again Homer freaks out.  During the night Homer is talking in his sleep as Marge enquires “Homey I can hear you chewing on your pillow, what’s wrong?”  With this Homer expresses he concerns at Bart wearing a Hawaiian shirt “there’s only two kinds of guys who wear those shirts: gay guys and big fat party animals.  And Bart does not look like a big fat party animal to me”.  Ever the voice of reason Marge asks “so if you wore a Hawaiian shirt it wouldn’t be gay?”  With this Homer says “right, thank you!” adding “hope you realise this is all your fault.  I mean, do you have to be so effeminate around the boy?”  Angered Marge responds “I don’t think there is any problem with Bart but if there is its because you don’t spend any time with him”.  Food for thought for Homer.  The next morning when he comes down the stairs it is to the sound of the “Shoop Shoop Song” and the sight of Bart dancing to it wearing a woman’s wig with pink bow.  Promptly Homer rips the wig from his head and switches off the record while in the kitchen Marge and John gossip about Helen Lovejoy (“I’ve heard cuffs and collar don’t match, if you catch my drift”).  Stepping into the kitchen snaps “you!  I should have known” as Marge says “he’s brought us cactus candy”.  At this point Homer tells John to “stay the hell away from my family” as he pulls the candy away before changing his mind telling him he can have a “teensy piece”.  Cutting through the moment John outright asks Homer “what have you got against the gays?” as he struggles to respond stating “you know, its not usual, if there was a law would be against it”.  As Marge tells Homer he is embarrassing himself he continues to rant “they’re embarrassing me, they’re embarrassing America.  They turned the Navy into a floating joke.  They ruined all our best names like Bruce and Lance and Julian.  Those were the toughest names we had”.  Homer even resents gay people using the word “queer” because “that was our word for making fun of you!  We need it!”  He continues “well I’m taking back our word and I’m taking back our son”.  The next thing we see is Homer and Bart in the car with Homer saying “don’t worry boy, we’re going to set you straight.  By tomorrow morning you’re going to be a regular Burt Reynolds”.  With this Bart asks where he is taking him as Homer assures “just a couple of good old fashioned manly places” before putting his arm around him then worrying that he’s holding there too long.  Eventually to counteract any potential ill effects he shakes his hand.  Their first stop is the middle bank of a Springfield motorway where Homer sits Bart down on a folding chair to sit and stare at a Laramie Slims billboard featuring two attractive ladies enjoying “pure enjoyment” from a pillow fight.  When Homer returns two hours later he asks Bart how he feels as he responds “I dunno.  I kinda want a cigarette”.  Homer considers this a good start as he offers to buy Bart a pack until he requests “anything slim”.  The next stop on his manly tour is the Ajax Steel Mill when Homer introduces Bart to Roscoe who runs the mill.  This plan also backfires when Roscoe gets the mill workers to say “hello” to the Simpsons as it is revealed they too are homosexual.  At this point Bart asks Homer “why did you bring me to a gay steel mill?” as he proclaims it to be a nightmare before yelling “you’re all sick” at the workers as one responds “oh be nice”.  With this a whistle is pulled as Roscoe announces “we work hard, we play hard” as “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C+C Music Factory breaks out and a sign is lowered proclaiming the place now transformed into The Anvil.  Much hard dancing ensues.  From here Homer drags Bart out with his hands over his eyes.  The third act begins with Homer at Moe’s saying how “the entire steel mill was gay” as Moe adds “where you been Homer?  Entire steel industry’s gay.  Aerospace too and the railroads”.  At this point Barney chips in saying that he “always thought Bart would grow up like us”.  Moe reconciles “it ain’t no mystery, whole modern world’s got a swishifying affect on kids today.  And their MTVs and their diet sodas ain’t gonna set them straight either” before pointing the finger at Homer to do the job on Bart (“and you gotta do it fast”).  With this Homer pleads advice as Moe offers that sending a son to war and shooting someone used to make a man “out of ya” but unfortunately these days where are no wars (“thank you Warren Christopher”) so Barney floats the idea of taking Bart hunting to shoot a deer (“that’s like shooting a beautiful man”).  Moe is agreement as the next thing you see is a cut away to the three of them at Springfield Mall emerging from Springfield Hunting Supplies all dressed and tooled up ready to hunt.  At this point Homer hears Marge and Lisa laughing as he spots the whole family in Cockamamies joking with John.  Angered Homer enters the shop saying “stand aside Marge I’m taking the boy deer hunting, he going to grow up straight for once”.  Disputing his idea Marge states “you’ve never went hunting before and you’re perfectly straight” as Homer hits back “oh yeah, how long since you’ve had a baby?”  Then ever the tree hugger Lisa pipes up “but dad its barbaric, how does killing a deer make you more of a man?” to which Homer responds “it just does, name me one gay Indian”.  At this moment John comes around the corner commenting “otto, something’s gonna die”.  Naturally Homer tells him to butt out asking John “what would you know about hunting?” to which he promptly responds “I know this much, I wouldn’t wear that hideous hat” before offering him a safari hunt which was worn by Yale Summers in Daktari.  In refusal Homer snaps “hold onto it toy boy, you might need it when it starts raining naked ladies”.  With this Homer grabs Bart away from playing the Astro Blast arcade machine to drag him hunting with Barney and Moe.  From here we cut to the four of them riding a truck to the forest with Barney telling Bart “today you’re gonna be a man, Bart” as excitedly he thinks/asks that they’re going to teach him to drive which prompts Moe to comment “oh yeah, gonna let Twinkletoes drive Betsy, right”.  Laughing Homer explains to Bart that he can’t drive because he is only 10, instead he’s going hunting at which point Moe asks if he’s ever been hunting before as he responds no stating “there’s something about a bunch of guys alone together in the woods, seems kinda gay”.  An awkward pause hangs in the air until Homer scolds Bart stating “that is a very immature attitude young man”.  Now in the woods we see the guys bedding in as Barney opens one of two Duff six packs while Moe reminds that his truck can only hold six carcasses “so don’t shoot nothing but trophy bucks, huh”.  Time passes as dusk arrives without much action and Barney having drunk most of his cans.  Finally they arrive at night as it turns dark and a now drunk Barney comments “we shoulda just stayed at the bar and shot some rats” and Moe pipes “those aren’t your rats Barn” before asking Homer if he is ready to call it quits.  Visibly tired Homer wants to quit but comments “but Bart’s not fixed yet, he hasn’t even…” as Moe points to him fast asleep.  With this they pack up and head home as in the truck while Barney and Bart sleep Moe tells Homer “don’t take it so hard, you’ve still got that other kid, ugh, Lisa.  Let’s take her out hunting tomorrow, make her into a man”.  Homer answers saying “she’d never go, she’s a vegetarian” to which Moe reacts horrified for his friend “oh jeez, Homer, jeez.  You and Marge ain’t cousins, are you?”  Feeling down Homer continues to look down defeated blaming it all on himself stating “this whole thing is my fault, I’ve been a lousy dad”.  Then with an apparent stroke of luck Moe suddenly sees a sign for Santa’s Village where you can “see real live reindeer” as he proclaims “cheer up Homer, Christmas is coming early this year” before driving into Santa’s Village through the front gate even though it states “closed for season”.  Back at the Simpson house Marge and Lisa worry about the whereabouts of Homer and Bart as John asks “did he say where they were going?” to which Lisa responds “no, they were just going to find a deer and make Bart shoot it”.  Amused John comments “deer? Not around here.  They all migrated north from the state park converted into Astroturf”.  He then comments “the only thing close to deer around here is….” as the episode cuts to a pen of reindeer at Santa’s Village.  With this Moe opens the gate as the four of them creep in and Homer wakes Bart to tell him “your old man found some deer”.  Immediately Bart spots that they are reindeer as Homer hands him a rifle stating “yup, and its your turn son”.  Naturally Bart refuses as Homer commands “be a spot and kill Blitzen, OK”.  Pressured Bart begins to well up as Homer continues “I’m gonna turn my back and when I turn around I wanna see a whole pile of dead reindeer” at which point he, Barney and Moe turn round and put their fingers in their ears.  The sound of gunshot is then heard as Homer tells Bart how proud of him he is as he responds “I didn’t do anything” as suddenly spooked the reindeers are “going nuts like in those nature films” as Barney announces.  In a different take Moe offers “must be mating season”.  With that the reindeer begin approaching the four of them in threatening fashion as they scream and Barney hides in an upturned food trough while Moe does likewise in the water trough.  As Homer picks up Bart he declares “dad, I’m scared” as Homer responds “me too son” as he holds his boy aloft declaring “there’s a time in every fathers life when he must…” just as the reindeer begin butting him across the pen.  Safely held above Bart enquires “dad, are you hurt?” as Homer responds “just my bones and organs”.  As the butting becomes more intense and vision suddenly in the background the sound of a tinny version of “Jingle Bells” can be heard causing the reindeer take attention and back off as a robot Santa Claus (Annual Gift Man) approaches scaring and shepherding the reindeer away.  Now safe Homer declares “it’s a miracle!”  At this point we hear John comment “no, ultra suede is a miracle, this is just good timing” as Homer goes running to Marge as they embrace and she comments “you feel softer than before” as he replies painfully “I’ve been tenderised”.  Bart then asks John “how’d you know that thing would work?” as he explains “well the sound is just brutal and I figured reindeer would naturally be afraid of their cruel master Santa Claus, I mean, wouldn’t you be?”  At this point Barney pops his head from beneath the food trough asking “is it OK to come out now Mr Gay Man?  Sir?” as Moe repeats the question “I’ll do anything you say.  Anything”.  Exiting Santa’s Village Barney grips “oh Moe, we were saved by a sissy” as he adds “yeah, yeah, we’ll never live it down.  Oh boy, it looks like it suicide again for me” before Homer jumps to John’s defence stating “hey, we owe this guy and I don’t want you calling him a sissy.  This guy’s a fruit.  No, wait, wait, a queer, that’s what you liked to be called, right?”  Remaining stoic he responds “well, that or John” as Lisa suggests “this is about as tolerant as dad gets so you should be flattered” to which he responds “great!  Well Homer I won your respect.  And all I had to do was save your life.  No if every gay man could just do the same, you’d be set”.  “Amen to that”.  Driving back in John’s open top car Homer turns round from the front and says “you know Bart maybe its just the concussion talking but anyway you choose to live your life is OK with me”.  Confused Bart turns to Lisa who whispers “he thinks you’re gay”.  With that Bart says puzzled “he thinks I’m gay?” as the strands of C+C Music Factory begin with “everybody dance now” and onscreen the episode is “Dedicated to the steelworkers of America.  Keep reaching for that rainbow!”

IS IT ANY GOOD:
Definitely, anything with John Waters attached will always be good.  Its lefty, upbeat and promotes positive stereotypes.

WHAT IT TAUGHT ME:
Homophobia is based on ignorance, fear and misunderstanding.

EXTERNAL REFERENCES:
The robot from Clank, Clank, You’re Dead is very like Robby The Robot in Forbidden Planet and Lost In Space.  When John first introduces himself to Marge and Homer at his store there is a Pink Flamingo in the background.

BEST LINES:
“Think of the property values, now we can no longer say only straight people have been in this house” – Homer to Marge.  “You know me Marge, I like my beer cold, my TV loud and my homosexuals flaming!”  “This is a sordid little burg, isn’t it”.  “There’s only two kinds of guys who wear (Hawaiian) shirts: gay guys and big fat party animals.  And Bart does not look like a big fat party animal to me”.  “Hang onto it toy boy, you might need it when it starts raining naked ladies”.

BEST JOKES:
Homer’s many attempts to turn Bart into a man’s man culminating in his theory/observation that it is only gay men and big fat party animals that where Hawaiian shirts.

PERIPHERAL MOMENT:
The Springfield Gas Company address is: PO Box 2323, Springfield USA.  Shops at the Springfield Mall include One Size Fits All Lingerie, Simply Shoes and of course Cockamamies.  Amongst the items in the store are old campaign buttons, a Krusty cardboard stand up, an old Fudd beer poster, a poster for the movie “Clank, Clank, You’re Dead” and the robot from the film, a Buzz Cola toy zeppelin, a Rex Mar Atomic Discombobulator amongst items.  Homer’s record collection includes albums by The New Christy Minstrels, “Ballads Of The Green Berets” by Sgt Barry Sadler, Loony-Luau and The Wedding Of Lynda Bird Johnson.  In Japan there is a Santa robot known as “Annual Gift Man”.  Kent Brockman was once caught cheating in the Springfield Marathon.  Sha-Boom Ka-Boom! serves Little Boy and Fat Man items for $3.95 and $12.95 respectively.  Astro Blast was a popular coin-op back in the day.  Moe has a truck that he calls Betsy.

REALITY CROSSOVER:
I have shared Marge’s disappointment in discovery that priceless trinkets are not valuable collectibles.

MVP:
John Waters as John.

GUEST APPEARANCES:
John Waters as John the owner of Cockammies collectibles shop.  He took the role after deciding that if the show was good enough for Elizabeth Taylor to be on, it was good enough for him.

SONGS:
Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C+C Music Factory is an unmistakable anthem.  The disco record John puts on in the Simpson front room is “I Love The Nightlife” by Alicia Bridges.  John’s car horn is “Over The Rainbow” from The Wizard Of Oz.  And finally the robot Santa Claus plays “Jingle Bells” while it operates.

EPISODE LINKS:
John is wearing Homer’s Pin Pals bowling shirt which was his bowling team in the Team Homer episode.

PERCULARITIES/RUBBERBAND REALITY:
After this episode Cockamamies is never mentioned or featured again.  And neither is storeowner John.  What happened to the guy?

BART ON THE BLACKBOARD:
No blackboard.

OTHER:
I sense Marge’s fondness for Jackie Onassis stems from the pair of them sharing the maiden name Bouvier.

FINAL WORDS:
John Waters is a greatest living American.

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