Egyptian anchor shares 'Simpsons' conspiracy theory
World Post | Mother Jones | The New York Times
Rania Badawi, an Egyptian TV anchor, thinks the Arab Spring started with an old episode of "The Simpsons," Charlotte Alfred reported Thursday in World Post, a partnership between Huffington Post and Berggruen Institute on Governance.
Badawi points out that the cartoon features a jeep bearing the flag adopted by Syrian opposition fighters in rebellion against Assad since 2011, and questions whether the Syrian revolution was preplanned.
"The flag was created before the events took place,” Badawi says, according to a translation by Washington D.C. research institute MEMRI, which specializes in identifying extremism in the Arabic press. "This raises many question marks about what happened in the Arab Spring revolutions and about when this global conspiracy began," she adds.
The anchor does note that the theory emerged on social media. And like many a social media storm, the conspiracy is not supported by the facts.
On Sunday, Robert Mackey reported in The New York Times that the theory first showed up about a year ago "by supporters of President Bashar Al-Assad who claimed to have decoded the 'subliminal messaging' of Zionist plotters."
The first flaw in the theory is the fact that the Syrian opposition did not invent a new flag out of whole cloth in 2011, but simply adopted the old green, white and black tricolor used by Syria for most of three decades beginning in 1932. That flag was replaced by a red, white and black tricolor following a military coup in 1963 that eventually brought Mr. Assad’s father to power.
On Thursday in Mother Jones, Asawin Suebsaeng asked Simpsons executive producer Al Jean about the theory.
Jean sent along the following brief statement:
Yes, we had the amazing foresight to predict conflict in the Middle East.
Somehow, I doubt the heavy sarcasm in Jean's admission will register with certain conspiracy theorists. There are also wacky theories out there that The Simpsons predicted the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Also, there's a fun post on the 11 times The Simpsons "predicted" the future of technology.
When the creators of "The Simpsons" aren't busy hatching plots, they do include some journalism in the show, too. Simpsonscrazy.com has a page devoted to headlines from the Springfield Shopper (founded in 1883 by Johnny Newspaperseed, "after merging with The Springfield Times, Springfield Post, Springfield Globe, Springfield Herald, Springfield Jewish News and Hot Sex Weekly, it is now the only major newspaper in Springfield.")
Here's a screenshot of one of those screenshots.
There's also Smartline hosted by Kent Brockman, who has a lapsed Twitter account.
I did not tweet out that photo of my thumb! And I will not be resigning!
— Kent Brockman (@KentBrockmanTV) June 17, 2011
There's a Twitter account in Bart Simpson's name, too, with 66,000 followers. Bart stopped tweeting in 2009, so no comment from him on his role in the Arab Spring.
I am up waaaayyyyy past my bed time! >=)
— Bart Simpson (@BartJSimpson) July 22, 2009