The Simpsons

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.

Comments (16)
  1. Yes, it is a mistake, but I also think it’s a bit much to expect that everyone should be able to correctly identify all branches under the ‘metal’ banner.

  2. Now they just need to apologize for the last 10 awful seasons of the show

  3. Since when were Judas Priest Black Metal?

    • Never. I was referring to the Judd Aparow-Billie Joe Armstrong skit to which I linked at the beginning of that paragraph. My point was that it’s bad enough when humorists lazily conflate/confuse black metal and death metal. But it’s completely insane to call Judas Priest a “death metal” band for no reason.

  4. I’m completely blown away that mislabeling a sub-genre of metal warrants such an apology!! The Simpsons writers need to come up with 20 something new chalkboard gags per season. Was there nothing else to socially comment on? My guess (and it’s really just a guess) is the writers were making a slick reference to this huge story from music history by calling Judas Priest ‘death metal’.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1990/07/17/arts/2-families-sue-heavy-metal-band-as-having-driven-sons-to-suicide.html

  5. read this article in comic book guy’s voice. you will not be disappointed.

  6. I blame myself, if only for not wearing more flamboyant metal shirts at the office. My vast metallic wisdom could have saved us all.

  7. Man, all these bands are just ripping off Judas Priest.

  8. Wasn’t the song “Turbo Lover” operatic c0ck rock? I guess you can’t say c0ck on prime time tv.

  9. I know what you mean. I hate, hate, HATE it when people confuse Quiet Storm for Neo-Soul!!! There is absolutely no reason for it!!!!

  10. “they went from christian rock to just rock”
    “how do you do that?”
    “just change Jesus to baby”

  11. I get worked up about genres sometimes.

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