Over the past few weeks, clips from 1993 episode ‘Marge in Chains’ – which sees Springfield plagued by a fictional virus that originates in Japan called the ‘Osaka flu’ – have circulated online, which have been used in memes and racist propaganda.
Hitting back at connections some are making between the episode and the current coronavirus, co-writer Bill Oakley told The Hollywood Reporter: “I don’t like it being used for nefarious purposes. The idea that anyone misappropriates it to make coronavirus seem like an Asian plot is terrible. In terms of trying to place blame on Asia — I think that is gross.”
Oakley went on to explain that the storyline was inspired by the 1968 Hong Kong flu, adding: “It was just supposed to be a quick joke about how the flu got here.
“It was meant to be absurd that someone could cough into box and the virus would survive for six to eight weeks in the box. It is cartoonish. We intentionally made it cartoonish because we wanted it to be silly and not scary, and not carry any of these bad associations along with it, which is why the virus itself was acting like a cartoon character and behaving in extremely unrealistic ways.”
In recent years it has been claimed that The Simpsons predicted numerous events, though Oakley suggested that the show gets too much credit on this front.
“There are very few cases where The Simpsons predicted something,” he added. “It’s mainly just coincidence because the episodes are so old that history repeats itself. Most of these episodes are based on things that happened in the ’60s, ’70s or ’80s that we knew about.”
Meanwhile, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Ariana Grande has urged fans to take it more seriously, noting they had a responsibility to think about who they could be infecting.
“It is incredibly dangerous and selfish to take this situation that lightly,” she wrote on social media. “the ‘we will be fine because we’re young’ mindset is putting people who aren’t young and / or healthy in a lot of danger. you sound stupid and privileged and you need to care more about others. like now.”