I don’t know how many of you Fickle Readers play The Simpsons: Tapped Out. It’s an app game that lets you build your own Springfield after Homer accidentally blows it up (three guesses on how he does it!). As you go up in levels, you unlock different Simpsons characters and make them go on wacky adventures and build the show’s iconic structures, like the Simpson home, Springfield Elementary, and the Escalator to Nowhere, complete with an endless supply of riders. (So far, though, no monorail.) My husband, Inspector Spacetime, thinks this game is about as exciting as contemplating ceiling cracks, but it does have its charms. Quests include lots of snarky, meta, Simpsons-style dialogue, and you really can’t go wrong watching Hank Scorpio walk down a city street while testing his flame thrower.
Anyway, I just unlocked the level that includes Database, that quintessential curly-haired nerd with the untucked shirt, red-rimmed glasses, and annoyingly nasal whine. All he wants is to hang out with pals.
Unfortunately, he discovers that in New Springfield, the Superfriends are gone, and all the remaining nerd-leaning kids, because they’ve been in the game for a while, now consider themselves cool. Even Martin rebuffs his old chum, although Martin seems to have a long-standing grudge against the newcomer.
I’ll bet you’re wondering how Shakespeare comes into this! Mighty Tiny Bill sure is.
Yes sir, O He Who Is Trapped in his Original Packaging! Here’s Martin response to Database:
I seem to recall wanting to “hang” once upon a more convenient hour, only to be turned aside like a Timon of Athens or other lesser work of the Bard.
For those whose Shakespeare knowledge is mostly confined to the four major tragedies and Romeo and Juliet: Timon of Athens happens to be a play about a man who succumbs to the lure of flatterers and gives away his riches. When he goes bankrupt, those whom Timon once considered his friends shun him. So here, Martin is claiming he was once a friendless Timon. Oh, how the tables have turned! Martin seems to say.
Except that in the play, Timon flees to the wilderness, finds a giant stash of gold, and uses it to help a vengeful convict lead an army against the city and to help two prostitutes to spread STDs among the Athenian citizens. By identifying himself as a Timon, Martin is inadvertently showing what a bitter, vengeful jerk he is. In an app game. About two little boys who not only know who Shakespeare is, but know Timon of Athens and even the fact that it’s not much of a crowd-pleaser.
Ah, The Simpsons. Even when they’re an inch tall on a tablet, those tiny yellow-skinned characters still manage to out-nuance 99% of modern media.