“Homer’s Enemy” is the twenty-third episode
of the eighth season of The Simpsons. Frank Grimes, a man who suffered tragedy after
tragedy in his life but never stopped working hard, is hired by Mr. Burns to work in the
Springfield nuclear power plant. Frank encounters Homer Simpson, a far less
serious and far less professional worker. Frank discovers that Homer, in spite of his
disinterest in his work, lives a much more comfortable life than Frank. “Homer’s Enemy” was written by John Swartzwelder,
an arch-conservative American libertarian and notorious, paranoid recluse, which means
it should come as no surprise when Frank exclaims “You’re what’s wrong with America, Simpson. You coast through life and you leech off decent,
hard-working people like me.” Whether Sqartzwelder’s politics influenced
the episode consciously or unconsciously, my commentary would be the same. Frank represents – not conservatives but
a idealized, fantasy of who conservatives are in the minds of the very same conservatives:
the decent, hard-working people. The salt of the Earth. Those who value backbreaking labor as a virtue. Those who turn their nose up at the social
safety net because it somehow devalues their true god: work. Homer represents something else. He represents what conservatives blame for
some of the failures in capitalism: laziness. Not making enough money? Simply get a second job, like Frank Grimes. He mentions that he works a night job at a
foundry. Still not making enough to get by, even with
two jobs? Well, that’s a “you problem” to conservatives. To them, not a failure of the system. To them, it’s not necessarily even something
with which we should sympathize. If you aren’t making enough money under capitalism,
then you must be lazy. If you are living on the street, then you
must be lazy. Why not at least live in a dangerous, overcrowded,
poorly maintained homeless shelter? American liberals may be less inclined to
agree with these statements, but American liberals believe in capitalism too, which
means they are doomed to see conservative workers as the enemy rather than the economic
system that is responsible for all this hardship in the first place. If someone suffers under capitalism but performs
all the tasks that capitalism demands of him, well, maybe that’s the fault of the Homer
Simpsons of the world who “leech” off hard-working people. Nothing like a scapegoat to distract from
the real enemy of labor. [It’s also standard procedure to blame a scapegoat
or sacrificial lamb.] Mr. Burns barely factors into the episode
except as a kind of neutral party, an oblivious and even harmless entity that doesn’t care
one way or the other. Burns is brought to tears by Frank’s life
story and hires him but also chews him out over something that wasn’t his fault. Past experience shows that he thinks nothing
of Homer but gives him an award anyway. In a bit of writing ingenuity, “Homer’s
Enemy” frames Homer Simpson as wrong but the protagonist and Frank Grimes as right
but the antagonist. Burns is an invisible hand of the market,
and the conflict is only between Homer and Frank. Mr. Burns is framed as a disinterested party
who has his ups and downs with both characters. If “Homer’s Enemy” were more honest, Frank
Grimes would not be so correct and Homer Simpson would not be so incorrect, but it is honest
in ways it did not intend to be. Workers are pitted against each other by their
employers – focusing on competition between one another rather than competition against
their employers. An illusion of combativeness between workers
as if the workers are what’s preventing other workers from earning better pay. Burns’ exclusion from the conflict of the
episode is representative of how conservative capitalists see the angst of workers; as being
caused by other, lazier workers. Unjust systems generally require a scapegoat. “Homer’s Enemy” portrays Mr. Burns as
having no strong feelings about the feud or even awareness of the feud, but if the episode
were more honest, Mr. Burns would be the one intentionally manipulating the feud instead
of passively pushing Frank over the edge at the end by rewarding Homer first prize in
the model power plant contest. The extremely conservative writer of this
episode naturally blames the wrong person and wrong institution for Frank’s misery. And since Frank is his avatar – so does
the Frank character. Frank believes in the “cult of work” – a
belief system that props up capitalism not as a necessary evil that some liberals view
it but as a good unto itself, as something both godly and necessary to the rule of law. And if that is true, then poverty is the sole
result of laziness and lack of personal responsibility. The working poor – many of whom are conservative
– continue to buy into this in spite of it being opposed to their best interests. This is because this cult of work has brainwashed
them into believing one of two things. First, that their hard work will be rewarded. The second is that even if they don’t raise
themselves out of poverty, the hard work itself is its own reward. That way, the cult of work can never be wrong. This is what rich capitalists want them to
think so that they can profit off the labor of the working poor and middle class. Over the centuries, hardline legal measures
have been taken against the poor – a reaction to massive population shifts caused by the
enclosure of the commons in England and how land was affected across Europe, particularly
in France. Outlawing idleness and the poorhouses physically
forced people from serfdom into wage-labor. The cult of work is partly the result of the
Protestant work ethic – meaning work in and of itself being godly, making idleness
a sin – and the desire among the poor to advance in life so much that they believe
that the rich will give them a slice of the good life if they work hard enough. This delusion forces them to see the rich
as their saviors and other workers as their competition and enemy. In the episode, Homer is the embodiment of
the sin of sloth, a caricature of those who conservatives believe “leech” off the
hard-working people. In reality, the working poor, unemployed and
under-employed are not “sinful” so much as they are suffering under an economic system
in which disparity is a feature, not a bug. There have been mild attempts at reform over
the years but little interest in replacing this economic system outright. Welfare as we know it began in America in
1935 as part of Franklin Roosevelt’s Social Security Act. Decried as socialism and as antithetical to
the cult of work in America, what the Social Security Act actually did was help struggling
families. For example, it granted aid to dependent children
who had lost an income-producing father. By the 1970’s, welfare had become a lifeline
for single mothers, giving conservatives even more ammunition against it. A single mother defies the cherished social
norm of the nuclear family and the reliance on husbands as sole caregivers. For these socially conservative reasons and
many others, conservative and neoliberal politicians sought to end welfare as we knew it. Bill Clinton ran on this during his campaign. “When I ran for president four years ago,
I pledged to end welfare as we know it.” The Clinton welfare-to-work program ushered
single mothers and others off their support. Some greatly suffered because of this, and
those could find jobs often found them lacking – retail jobs and cashier positions that
couldn’t possibly provide for themselves and their numerous children. Low wage jobs provide little room for upward
mobility, and since wages have been largely stagnant since the Clinton years, these low
wage jobs aren’t getting better. The buying power for those pushed off welfare
by the welfare-to-work program is now lower than it was. Cuts to welfare are pushed by conservative
politicians, applauded by conservative voters and accepted by neoliberal politicians who
want to seem sympathetic but also follow a doctrine of capitalism. Food stamps, housing and health care outlays
are up, but welfare checks have shrunk so much that the very poorest single-parent families
received 35 percent less than they did before welfare-to-work began. What’s more, there’s another major problem
for welfare recipients right now: significantly reduced funding for job placement and training. Conservatives get into government, dismantle
programs and then use the now dismantled programs as evidence that they don’t work. Men like the fictional Frank Grimes and their
real world counterparts would ignore this. He would call struggling mothers “welfare
queens” and see any failures of the system as the result of the Homer Simpsons of the
world. Again, unjust systems and policies require
a scapegoat. Frank tells his opposite that if Homer had
lived in any other country, he would have starved to death long ago, and the episode
treats this as fact in spite of the reality that most developed countries have far better
social safety nets than the US. Other scapegoats include policies, institutions
and people who actually benefit the work force so that rich capitalists can avoid detection
as the true problem. Sometimes rich capitalists can even benefit
from these policies, institutions and people – such as when immigration is blamed for
low wages, unemployment and the proliferation of the sin of laziness. In truth, immigrants are 30 percent more likely
to start a business in the US than non-immigrants, and 18 percent of all small business owners
in the United States are immigrants. Small businesses owned by immigrants employ
millions of people and generate more than $776 billion annually. Immigrants are also more likely to create
their own jobs. 7.5 percent of the foreign born are self-employed
compared to 6.6 percent among the native-born. Deep down, rich capitalists love immigrants
because of the cheap labor they can provide and because immigrants have started 25 percent
of public U.S. companies that were backed by venture capitalists. This list includes Google, eBay, Yahoo!, Sun
Microsystems, and Intel. But capitalists and their puppet politicians
need the workers to blame themselves – to blame other workers – which makes scapegoats
so prevalent. [I knew it was immigrants.] Another way rich capitalists get workers to
blame each other is through propaganda against unions. Workers are subjected to what union organizers
like to call a captive audience meeting. Employers hold these anti-union meetings once
they have caught wind of an organizing campaign. New workers sit through anti-union orientation
videos and presentations, which give misleading stats about the negatives of unionizing. The biggest “negative” of unionizing is
that the employer will fire the employee, but that is not a negative of unionizing. It is the product of not having a union in
the first place. Capitalist propaganda has made unions the
enemy of the worker even though it has historically been the worker’s greatest ally. It is not a coincidence that wages have stagnated
at roughly the rate of the decrease in union influence in the US. The Simpsons had an earlier episode in which
Homer becomes a union representative, but talk of unions on the series has faded along
with the presence of unions in the real world. Anti-union propaganda is so strong that many
non-union workers see unionizing as a negative, not realizing that they are siding with rich
capitalists who don’t have their best interests at heart. Frank Grimes’ parents abandoned him as a child,
suggesting that he spent the rest of his youth in poverty. In addition to the episode, and by extension
Frank, misunderstanding other workers as the cause of Frank’s ennui, Frank also fails to
realize that his position in life is not dictated by how hard he works but the conditions in
which he was born. Karl Alexander is a Johns Hopkins sociologist
who followed nearly 800 people from poor neighborhoods in Baltimore since they started first grade
in 1982. Of the nearly 800 school kids he followed
for 30 years, those who got a better start—because their parents were working, had more income
or because of being a two-person household—tended to stay better off, while the more disadvantaged
stayed poor. Out of the original 800 public school children
he started with, only 33 moved from low-income birth family to a high-income bracket by the
time they neared the age of 30. This preserves privilege across generations. Only 4 percent of the low-income kids he met
in 1982 had college degrees when he interviewed them at age 28, whereas 45 percent of the
kids from higher-income backgrounds did. Of course, these statistics also intersect
with racial discrimination. Among men who drop out of high school, the
employment differences between white and black men are staggering. At age 22, 89 percent of the white subjects
who’d dropped of high school were given jobs anyway, compared with only 40 percent
of the black dropouts. Believers in the cult of work would claim
that some born into poverty fight their way up to middle class and in some extremely rare
cases even wealth, but that does not change the fact that it is much more difficult and
much less likely with fewer resources. Low-income children caught up in their parents’
economic struggles experience the impact through unmet needs, low-quality schools, and unstable
circumstances. In “Homer’s Enemy” Frank definitely had
unmet needs, home-schooled himself and obviously had unstable circumstances. But when Frank laments that he lives in a
small apartment between two bowling alleys and Homer lives in a house, he blames Homer’s
laziness for his own misfortune rather than a system that disadvantaged Frank from an
early age. Struggling workers like Frank are given a
pat on the head by rich capitalists because their added labor will always benefit the
income of said rich capitalists more, and because of this, struggling workers might
see these capitalists as their benefactors or even aspirational. The cult of work is at play here. So long as the workers don’t complain about
the unequal arrangement, these workers are a net positive for their employers. If the workers do complain, capitalists will
make excuses that deflect criticism towards themselves. Things like “If you wanted a higher paying
job, you should have taken a higher paying job. That’s a you problem.” But this ignores the aforementioned statistics
about the challenges in attaining these jobs for those born into poverty, not to mention
the the limited amount of higher paying jobs that sometimes require workers to take on
more than one occupation at a time. Rich capitalists are – more often than not
– born into far better circumstances than the poor, have far greater advantages, have
far more privileges, resources and stability. But they can’t or won’t see it that way and
instead blame the victims of capitalism rather than the beneficiaries of capitalism. The US props up an “American Dream” of
getting rich from nothing but the sweat off your back and a garage for your amazing invention. It is codified in the very culture of the
nation. It is a religion, a cult far stronger and
more prevalent than any other belief system, and it is just as supernatural. “It’s a you problem” individualizes systemic
problems because individuals are easier to see and therefore blame. Frank blames Homer because he is his exact
opposite and because he can see him and shout at him and look at their disparate lives and
tell him that he’s what’s wrong with the US. And no, the conservative libertarian writer
obviously did not intend an anti-capitalist message, but like many conservatives who notice
income inequality but blame it on the wrong people, he was close an epiphany but could
not quite make the right connection. When Frank Grimes discovers that Homer Simpson,
who doesn’t work particularly hard, has a much better life than himself, he could have
had a realization that the meritocracy that “personal responsibility” conservatives
and work cultists talk about was a sham, but that is never broached in the episode. For an instant, Frank sees the world for what
it is but takes the wrong lesson from it. What it gets wrong is how the myth of meritocracy
within this cult of work benefits the rich far more than it would benefit a working class
family because the rich – upon confronted with their obscene wealth hoarding can always
claim that they “earned” their millions and billions. Nobody earns a billion dollars, they steal
it from the labor of those who have no choice but to take low-wage jobs in a system that
previous billionaires maintained for new billionaires. US television sitcoms are filled with working
class families and humor centered around their working class problems, but said sitcoms generally
don’t question economic injustice and capitalism as a system and sometimes also could be fairly
right-wing. Al Bundy never blamed his position in life
on the fact that his employer doesn’t pay him enough. He blamed his position in life on women, most
notably his wife, his neighbor and the women customers at his place of employment. He complained far more about the customers
than about management, directing his unhappiness with his life at bystanders and other working
class people rather than those who actually control him. Simpsons fans sometimes take issue with this
episode because it portrays Homer as a foil of a man who had a hard life – he is a monster
who elicits laughs at Frank’s funeral – but that is how capitalists frame anyone who works
for a living or wants to work for a living but doesn’t buy into the cult of work: lazy,
worthless and ignorant. We are the butt of the joke. The ranting of Frank Grimes isn’t directed
only at Homer Simpson but at us, anyone who is skeptical of capitalism, skeptical of meritocracy,
disinterested in shifting blame to our fellow workers. We’ve existed under capitalism for centuries
now, and we should all know who the real enemy is.

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100 thoughts on “Frank Grimes – The Cult of Work | Renegade Cut”

  1. I had a very similar life to Frank Grimes nothing went my way i'm adopted because my biological parents were in jail for robbing banks, and my adoptive family were drug addicts. Throughout my life i'm been super poor and get to annoyed with people telling me to just get a job when my town has barely any jobs and then i'm told to just move but i need money to move they are always moving the goal post. Another thing that effects Frank and myself luck some people are just born unlucky where no matter how hard you work shit gets thrown at you nonstop that is just out of your control. I've been told luck has nothing to do with it until people get to know me and see how shit never goes right for me and they have to admit my luck is shit.

  2. A beautiful story, told to comfort the oppressed and make children do their lessons. The truth is the law of equivalent exchange is a lie. ‘To gain, something of equal value must be lost. Conversely, if you give something up you will always receive a prize of equal value in return?’
    Wrong. People work because they believe it will pay, but equal effort does not always mean equal gain…
    …People can say there is a balance, a great logic by which everything happens for a reason, but the truth is far less designed. No matter how hard you work in this life, once you die, you die.
    Some spend their entire lives trying to scratch their way to the top and yet they still die in poverty, while others are born into wealth without ever working at all.
    It’s a cruel and random world, and yet the chaos is all so…

  3. I always got the impression from the episode itself that Frank Grimes was actually the, admittedly, cruel butt of the show's jokes. It might not show outright in the writing, but in execution he always came off as a bit of a butthole who had wasted his life chasing success that would always evade him precisely because he kept sucking up to the oblivious, obviously incompetent Mr. Burnses of the world (not an entirrely inaccurate assessment), and the rest of the world laughed at his efforts. I daresay this may have been intentional on some part of the episode's production, as The Simpsons in its prime was hardly the sort of show to promote such values willy nilly. In any case, I never got the impression that the show endorsed his view that Homers were the fault of his failure, neither did the show make it clear that the Mr. Burnses of the world were responsible.

  4. disabled youtubers like annie elainey have made some great videos about how the narrative of "laziness" under capitalism and products made specifically for disabled people are co-opted by able-bodied people to deny the existence of, or shame disabled people into doing things they can't. it adds another dimension to this discussion that, as a disabled person, i don't think is talked about enough.

  5. I remember as a child thinking Frank was unnecessarily mean and vindictive to Homer. I can't remember what I thought of his conclusion at Homer's house though. I'm sad to say, I think I have resented others in the past for not suffering as much as me, not in the world of labour but in the world of mental health, abuse and loneliness. Now I have grown far beyond it. For anyone who isn't there yet, this video holds a valuable lesson.

  6. When I was a kid, I always question why Frank Grimes wasn't mad at Mr.Burn. Homer isn't the boss and couldn't hire himself. Also, if Frank wanted Homer fire, he can easily file a report to the Nuclear inspectors

  7. I remember feeling sympathetic towards Frank and very much antagonised Homer when I first saw the episode as a child. Now I know that Homer really isn’t to blame.

  8. unwittingly anti-capitalist rhetoric in common tv shows is something I'm really fascinated in. nobody will call out the C word as the problem of course but working class issues have existed as long as classism has, and it's everywhere in popular art. if anyone can point out anything on yt that talks more about it I'd love to see it.

  9. Lenny and Carl are examples of those who possess proper class consciousness and solidarity with their fellow worker. By recognizing Homer's cognitive differences and enthusiastically defending him, covering for him, and cheering his victories, they take care of the weaker of their group and shield him from the attacks of Grimey.

    Their commitment to solidarity is also seen in how Lenny and Carl interact with Grimes himself — they attempt to gently steer him towards not treating Homer as an enemy, and when they conclude this to be a lost cause, they decide to disengage, but still refrain from reciprocating Grimes' hostility.

    That's our Homer.

  10. As a Simpsons fan since day one I thank you for this, and I too have realized this going through life by being born into a conservative family and you put it together beautifully. I have see too many people stress themselves to death, including me, when given the Drug of Capitalism so many are too busy surviving and not enough living. Why should we fight to the death for a job to the Cult of Work aka The Con in Conservatism? WE ARE SPARTACUS!

  11. 9:27 “Conservatives get into government, dismantle programs, and then use the dismantled program as evidence that they don’t work.”

  12. Money backed by people. X$ per person in the system. You recieve it at 18 and when someone dies a percentage of each dollar is removed equally to prevent inflation. It would be capitalism on a fair playing field.

  13. Oddly enough, the lesson for me watching this growing up was “it seems easier to not even try, given that the system is so broken” … the lazy man is comfortable and rewarded

  14. America's unemployment is 3.5% and Americans work more hours per year than England,Germany even Japan. Who are these lazy slack offs? Literally they don't exist.

  15. Well, You nailed it once again Leon, and so accuratly, that I don't know what to say other than keep up the good job, your videos enlight my poor working-class hard days! Meritocracy is a joke, and libertarian capitalism the true ennemy of the workers. in the US and in Europe.I hope one day the working class in America will understand that, rather than voting for its sworn ennemies (aka Trump and his lookalike), and unite.

  16. Frank Grimes is who conservatives imagine the guy who “works hard”, except in the Simpsons he has not been magically rewarded with a lavish lifestyle because he “works hard”. Frank probably could work less hard, enjoy himself more, and his life would only be better.

  17. I hated Frank since I was 6 years old, long before what I knew what capitalism, conservatism, and liberalism was. Frank should’ve been focusing on how to improve his life instead of looking at what Homer was doing. Homer is lazy af but I always had sympathy towards him b/c despite his flaws, he has kindness in his heart, and is obviously learning disabled. Homer has achieved a certain amount of stability due to family, friends, and luck.

  18. Also here's a thing. Frank blames Homer's laziness for the fact that Frank has it worse, the way conservatives blame poor people. Except… how does that work? What means exactly does Homer receive at Frank's expense that he receives for working less hard? Let's imagine fewer people get welfare payments so the government has more money to invest. Should that money then be invested in… welfare payments, except to other people who "work harder"? Or should that part of the government just disappear because "smaller government"? Except then, how would Frank's own life improve? What economic sense does this talking point make? It's amazing how quickly this right wing cliché falls apart if you look at it for longer than half a second.

  19. Smoke a (legal) bowl of hash, step back inside, see thumbnail in Inbox of The Simpsons expecting… something funny? Instead find a wonderful essay using a Simpsons episode to point out the (obvious) problems with the capitalist system, watch, smile. 🙂

  20. Come gather round children
    It's high time ye learn
    Bout a hero named Homer
    And a Devil named burns
    We'll march 'till we drop
    The girls and the fellas.
    We'll fight 'till the death
    Or else fold like umbrellas.
    So we'll march day and night
    By the big cooling tower.
    They have the plant
    But we have the power.

  21. Multiple people I argued with used the cult of work as their core arguments. One was Hispanic and wanted women to work and do at home duties. One derided people with student loan debt and said that his wife worked one full time job and was able to pay tuition(she lives in a state with a low cost of living and went to a state school). Another bragged that he started working at 15 years old and has now made it. The final one was deluded and overestimated the intelligence of the wealthy and said people are poor because they are 'stupid and lazy'. Lastly my aggravating college classmate was confused people struggled so much because his dad was making a lot of money. He wasn't very bright and required tutoring. This really does come up a lot with the right wing. Nice video.

  22. This country need immigrants to do the hard dirty physical manual work. Multi-generational whites with dividend and cash flow paying assets live on that and won't do any work getting their hands dirty.

  23. I never liked that episode or Frank Grimes. He always reminded me of the self righteous conservative assholes that I grew up around.

  24. American dream; unless you know the right people or a smart independent buisness man, hard work will only bring you more hard work.

  25. The American Dream is not The American Reality. America simply doesn't work that way.
    To quote Garland Greene: "What if I told you insane was working 50 hours a week in some office for 50 years, at the end of which they tell you to piss off?"

  26. It's also a self image problem. Poverty is a character flaw. The poor at some level often believe they are themselves to blame.

  27. I think the frustrating thing heard was a boomer complaining people not working everyday while sitting in a out reach center for people struggling. Some people are there became they are homeless, struggle with income or are looking for work. I have a job at a place that gives work for people with mental and physical issues. Who can't find normal work. She was seriously implying that I was lying about having job because I was not at work when my job was not even open weekends. She kept bragging about working for hours like she was hot shit. I'm sure the people living in tent in the woods are impressed. We are you even there if you despise these people? We don't have a homeless shelter here just "warning stations" because they don't want to believe that people are homeless.

  28. "Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires."

  29. This was an unexpectedly eye-opening commentary on the socioeconomic fabric of our country. It is an interesting perspective on that episode that I never considered before.

    The funny thing is, I initially clicked on this video because I just watched "Homer's Enemy" this morning. My interpretation of the episode, up until now, was of how a person on the outside of Springfield's warped society would view Homer's baffling level of success. I always saw Grimes' loathing of Homer as unfair because he is a product of his environment. Springfield is a place that rewards bad behavior. I think the conservative's version of this episode also seeks to show not only that the "Homers" are the problem with America, but that this "New America" is the problem. In this way, it almost serves as a weird "call to arms" for wealthy capitalists and/or those heavily indoctrinated into the cult of work.

    Man, I never would have thought The Simpsons could be considered this heavy with conservative overtones!

  30. My grandfather was definitely a disciple of the cult of work… except, he was part of the electricians union. He hated every single other union, actively derided unionization, and blamed laziness for the problems everyone ever experienced… Except for himself. His union he criticized for having policies such as those protecting him from asbestos, which he secretly violated, as well has safety standards, which he also violated… but when the union pushed for higher wages and the like, he kept his moth shut. Then when there was a huge slowdown in construction in the late nineties, and he could find work despite being a company man for 40 years, he also remained completely silent. He retired at the time, but when work picked back up, the union basically begged him to come back, even if it was just in a teaching roll, because he had experience, and he could pass on his knowledge to the next generation. He was frank Grimes in so many ways, except his hypocrisy was blatant… but he did (figuratively) electrocute himself out of the workforce when he discovered life wasn't as he believed.

  31. YES!!! This episode always seemed a bit off to me. Even as a kid I think I had some idea that this was why. It also never really sat well with how the Simpsons where often depicted as having financial struggles themselves, at least in the early seasons. Money was an issue with Lisa's braces, Santa's Little Helper's operation, Homer having to quit the job he loved and go back to the one he hated to support his family. They may have been better of than Grimes but not enough to oppress him.

  32. Exceptionally well done episode. I could never put my finger on what bugged me about the episode when I first saw it, but I always found it by far the most interesting Simpsons episode of them all. Now, after all these years, this essay put it into words.

  33. Great video, but I would add a caveat that the overwhelming majority of human beings DO want to work, they just don't want to work grueling and back-breaking BS jobs that doesn't benefit anyone except megacorporations. I live in a country with a wide social security net, yet most people here still try to find jobs because humans are social creatures inherently wired to seek out and do tasks together with other humans to meet our social needs and our need to find a purpose in life. I think it's an important fact to remember whenever you see conservatives claim that all poor would just laze about forever if their basic incomes were met.

  34. You can only see how impactful an episode was, when a character that appeared only once is still being talked about more than 20 years after it aired.
    Seriously, like it or not – this episode is a prime example of peak Simpsons writing

  35. I hated this episode, not for the preachy, on-the-nose story or the lack of jokes but for it's lack of a pay-off. It built up a character who could have been a new Flanders like foil for Homer over time only to throw the whole episode away with Homer's last line. That proved how irrelivent the episode was and was the begining of the demise of The Simpsons in general.

  36. I thought it was the reminder in terms of 'power of protagonist' and the setting of the show, where nobody can touch or challenge it, or the "universe of Simpsons" will destroy him, by killing and humiliation.

  37. Now I know why John Stossel's (and Fox News in general) white and middle class followers are such sad and pathetic.

  38. My big problem with this take is… Homer Simpson works at a freaking nuclear plant . Frank Grimes may look obnoxious but the point is, he's still right about the fact that, weren't this cartoon land, Homer would probably be the cause of accidents and deaths with his incompetence. This isn't about idolising work, but the fact that some work specifically is so hard and dangerous it needs to be taken seriously, not as a sign of deference towards your corporate overlords, but out of respect and sense of responsibility towards the community as large. Same with being a doctor or an engineer who designs bridges or what have you. If you make toothpaste ads for a living, that would be a different story, and Grimes' zeal would be indeed obnoxious and come off as job idolatry.

  39. Honestly, I see this episode commenting on how Grimes's effort actually amounts to nothing in itself. He tries hard, but capitalist systems also bound success by luck (Grimes is clearly unlucky) and personality politics I.e. the ability to gain support of others by being liked. BECAUSE Frank is a dick he fails not in spite of it. I don't think it shows weakness in his work ethic, it shows weakness in his character.

    Also briefly welfare is needed as a mechanism of support but always must be less desirable than a basic salary given a person's circumstance. A single mother CAN work for more income, but a well functioning society should work so that mother to not work and survive albeit in relative poverty. I don't think the US has a strong enough welfare system yet, but welfare is a delicate balance that will always moderated by conservatives and no amount of complaining will change that.

  40. I can't tell you how many times I've had a manager tell me just how bad unionizing would be for me, specifically. It was at least 6, but, to be fair, I only did about 3 years in retail before getting a union job and realizing just how full of shit they all were. So glad they were saving me from the horrors of regular raises, stellar insurance and gasp vacation time!

  41. It just occured to me that Frank Grimes has a lot of similarities with Michael Douglas characther William Foster from Falling Down, both in apperance and personality.

  42. Watching Hassan Minaj's show yesterday, it's crazy to see the vilification of basically every union–save for the union of the capilist henchmen. The fact that they go above and beyond to protect the worst of them against the consequences of violence against citizens is painful to see.

  43. One of my favorite historical contradictions: the modern social welfare state was started by a man who defined conservative politics in his age-Otto Von Bismarck. And he created it to PREVENT socialism in Germany. He felt the best way to discourage socialist revolution was to provide an environment of stability for the workforce, as well as a clear demonstration that the system was on their side and did not need to be overthrown. And at the same time, he saw it as a way to cut the legs out from under the socialist elements and deny them of anything to agitate over. Pure genius! Yet no conservatives, particularly US conservatives, are able to recognize it today.

  44. I’m not surprised that Grimes turned out this way, since he was partially inspired by Bill Foster from Falling Down.

  45. I know people who were hard workers, but then they got a stroke or crippled and lost their jobs, ending up on the street homeless without getting hired ever again. Yeah, must have been laziness.

  46. The Simpsons themselves were always having money problems and weren't exactly well-off either. Homer having a house and being able to occasionally buy lobster for special occasions doesn't mean he's "rich". I always saw Grimey as someone unfairly taking his anger out on Homer because his life was so difficult.

  47. I think you're wrong about Burns – he doesn't need to take an active role as a villain here. His passive participation in the system that grossly over-benefits himself at the expense of everyone else is enough to keep the system going and the system is what pits workers against each other.

    Burns is well established as fickle, out of touch with reality, and incompetent, demolishing the notion that the uber-rich somehow deserve their wealth and power. It seems far less often that he appears as an active villain, and then usually when his own interests are directly thwarted or threatened.

  48. I like what George Carlin said he said the poor are just there to scare the middle class keep them showing up at those jobs while the rich run off with all the money

  49. As a Swede I find this very interesting to watch. I have been diving more into politics and I have been seeing myself as somewhere in the middle on the political spectrum, but more towards the socialist left side. It's interesting to compare political and economic differences and similarities in different countries.

  50. fun facts Per Bill Oakley's Twitter feed, they originally sought out Steve Martin to voice Frank Grimes, but he declined. Martin, however, would later play Ray Patterson, another rational character baffled by Homer's antics.
    Hank Azaria felt that William H. Macy was better suited for the role of Grimes but it was ultimately decided that the person voicing Grimes needed to be someone intimately familiar with the Homer Simpson character to make it most effective. Azaria based his performance on as much of Macy as he could

  51. Heya RC,

    Would it be possible to do an episode about how capitalism exploits disabled people?

    I'm autistic, and finding work is a big struggle due to how no small business I apply to has the time or desire to ever train me in working with customers or cash, I'm merely just physical labour and janitorial work. At my last job, my work wasn't valued as anyone else's, so I was going to be paid half or less then my Province's MW laws.

  52. This cartoon conveniently doesn't share the actual finances of either one of these employees. No actual numbers on actual paychecks. Not even fictional ones. How could we as an audience actually see the whole picture if it was never given. If anything the Simpsons are BURIED in debt with a mortgage, and three children to feed and raise. Maybe Frank has a decent nest egg that isn't nearly as big as what he thinks it should be. Perhaps he has drug or gambling debts or college loans or credit card debts we don't see. Maybe an ex-wife and kids he has to support because of a nightmare divorce, which might even be likely, as most divorced father look like Frank's situation. He's certainly bitter enough at Homer to carry that resentment flaunting his failures in his face.

  53. I always read Frank as foolishly believing in the system that will never reward him, and Homer as an example of someone who succeeds due, essentially, to a kind of luck or even nepotism since he got the job because he "Showed up the day the plant opened", because effort doesn't actually matter.

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