The Simpsons Apologize To Judas Priest In Chalkboard Gag

Michael Nelson | January 13, 2014 - 6:30 pm

Until very recently, Stereogum/Black Market contributor Aaron Lariviere worked at Gracie Films, in the same offices as The Simpsons production team. Frequently, when a notable celebrity would stop by, Aaron would inform me via Gchat. The only time he seemed genuinely flustered by the appearance of a star, though, was last July, when Judas Priest singer Rob Halford came to the Gracie offices to work on a Simpsons guest spot. “ETIQUETTE BE DAMNED,” I wrote back to Aaron. “GET A PICTURE WITH HIM.” Alas, etiquette won, and Aaron merely sat there hyperventilating silently. Anyway, that Simpsons episode finally aired last Sunday, a week after Aaron left Gracie. And in it, unforgivably, one character referred to Priest as a “death metal” band.

As I’ve said before, it drives me fucking insane when TV shows or movies make big, dumb, inaccurate references to metal for the sake of milking cheap laughs. I don’t care if you want to have fun at metal’s expense, but if you brazenly mix up black metal and death metal — and the essence of the joke hinges on getting that reference right — well, that’s just lazy writing and it deserves to be called out and mocked relentlessly. But that’s totally pardonable compared to calling Judas Priest a death metal band. Not only do Judas Priest predate death metal by a solid decade, they sound absolutely nothing like any bands in that entire genre. Which of course you already know because everybody knows that. Well, not everybody, apparently.

The Simpsons writers were appropriately tarred and feathered for their gaffe, and they apologized in pretty excellent manner: by having Homer Simpson*, in the show’s intro, repeatedly write on a chalkboard that “Judas Priest are not ‘death metal.'” It’s a classy, funny, timely, and of course meta(l) apology. Aw. All’s forgiven! Of course, I can’t help but wonder if Aaron is somehow to blame, as the timing of his departure syncs up awfully well with this error …

* Yes, I know it was Bart, not Homer. Of course it’s fucking Bart. I’m not an idiot. I said it was Homer to illustrate via an immediate Simpsons-specific parallel just how incorrect it was to call Judas Priest death metal. Terrible.