There are often articles on the web about episodes of "The Simpsons" that prophesied events that later actually happened - of the most disparate kinds: from Trump's election in 2016 to a particular Lady Gaga show, from the scandal over the illegal sale of horsemeat to the invention of automatic correctors for cell phones. But there's one phenomenon that they certainly were able to intercept back in the day, when it was still attracting little attention, and is now a hotly debated topic: woke ideology in American (and other) universities.
Marge and the radical chic professor
The prophecy in question appears in the 11th episode of the 19th season, titled That '90s Show. Released in the United States in 2008, it begins with the family gathered around the fireplace during a cold winter. Homer begins to tell his children an episode from his past with his wife Marge, before the children were born. When they were young, in the '90s, she had been admitted to the University of Springfield, while he worked hard to pay her tuition.
Once at the university, Marge finds herself among the teachers of the eccentric professor Stefane August, who from the very first lesson scandalizes for his way of thinking close to the radical left. Exposing a painting of America's Founding Fathers, he "blames" them for the fact that they are male, white and slave owners; with spray paint he writes the word "Evil" on the painting. He begins to instill in the students, who are at first bewildered, the idea that the founding of their country has nothing of value, that "history is written by the winners". It is no coincidence that Marge, attracted by his way of doing things, at one point is seen reading A People's History of the United States, a 1980 book by historian Howard Zinn, who claimed to want to dismantle the elite narrative by telling American history on the basis of discrimination against blacks and natives.
Other Professor August's standpoints, which have described early on the rise of certain ideologies in English-speaking academia, concern gender studies, in which he inserts himself by trying to rethink sexual genders. At one point he pushes Marge to leave Homer, asserting that the fact that he paid her tuition would not be a gesture of love, but rather an act of the man to subdue the woman. Also, at one point he is seen angrily watching a rugby match of the "Washington Redskins", outraged that their name recalled the Native Americans. It was the Redskins themselves who received increasing pressure to change their name and, in February of this year, renamed themselves the "Washington Commanders."
Driven by anger for being abandoned, Homer put together a band (clearly inspired by "Nirvana") and, at a concert, you can hear him singing a song entitled Politically Incorrect (on the tune of Heart Shaped Box, a Nirvana hit). In the end, Marge gets back with him after Stefane tells her that he is against the institution of marriage, which he considers a form of "slavery" to women, while she would like to get married.
August's character fully embodies the archetypal American woke activist: straight white male who hates other straight white males, more feminist than female feminists and more multiculturalist than minorities themselves. So much so that he is left by Marge when he proves too radical even for her.
If in 2008 such a character might have seemed just an all in all amusing nutcase, today he represents an increasingly widespread and worrying drift. Those who, like him, preached these teachings in the '90s have gathered many followers over time, and those followers are making life increasingly difficult in universities (American, but not only) for those who think differently. In today's West, August and his students are gaining the upper hand.
Giornalista pubblicista, ha scritto per le testate Mosaico, Cultweek and Il Giornale Off. Laureato in Beni culturali (Università degli Studi di Milano) e laureato magistrale in Giornalismo, cultura editoriale e comunicazione multimediale (Università di Parma).