Where Is Springfield?
The Simpsons creator Matt Groening has confessed in a years old interview that the fictional town in which everyone’s favorite macaroni yellow family lived–Springfield–is actually based on Springfield, Oregon. While this may disappoint the Springfields in every other state of the Union, it can hardly come as a surprise to Oregonians. (Editors Note: Groening now says he was misquoted.) After all, Evergreen Terrace (the street on which the Simpson family lives) is the name of the street in southeast Portland on which Groening grew up; and Lovejoy, Flanders, and Quimby are only some of the Portland street names that have been applied to major characters in the Simpsons.
People Really Like Mystery (+The Simpsons)
But for years, Groening refused to let on the Simpson’s real home, enjoying the ambiguity. Everyone could (and many did) believe that this Springfield was their Springfield. Given the nature of town life in The Simpsons, this may be something of a worrisome prospect. But maybe it isn’t just that the name “Springfield” is synonymous with eccentric citizenry and utterly incompetent local government. Maybe there’s something about how the characters from The Simpsons never try to pretend they’re better than they actually are, something about they’re being average people trying to get along in seemingly average circumstances that everyone responds to. We love the Simpsons because they are like us at our absolute worst and at our most ridiculous.
This affinity may lead to an almost fanatical level of devotion. In February to celebrate the show’s 500th episode, two Simpsons fans from California broke the Guinness World Record for consecutive hours spent watching television by watching every episode in one sitting. All told, this was almost ninety straight hours of television. Pictures of Homer Simpson have been hand painted in imitation of Van Gogh’s blue backed self-portrait and Munch’s The Scream. When the voice actors for the Japanese series were replaced by bigger Japanese stars for the movie, fans from the country set up websites and forums to protest this alteration. With tag lines like, “Save the Simpsons!” it was clear their love of the series inspired them to attempt to maintain its integrity in the face of an attempt to boost the movie at the Japanese box office. In Europe, a German company has been battling it out for the rights to keep producing Duff. Google Translate informs me that their red backed ad reads, “How to become a legend?” which seems appropriate for such an iconic beer, if a bit over-literal in the translation.
While their guest stars have ranged from the newest celebrities on the block (@ the Glee cast) to legends like Patrick Stewart and Ringo Starr. Kelsey Grammar–famous predominantly for the sitcoms Cheers and Frasier–has voiced the ever-homicidal Sideshow Bob from the beginning of the series. Neil Patrick Harris had already been in an episode by the early ’90s. Stephen Hawking has played himself four times on the show, and Leonard Nimoy has appeared as himself twice. Ont he flip side, his Star Trek co-star, William Shatner, is rumored to be the first star ever to turn down a guest spot. When someone is famous enough to make it on to (or turn down) The Simpsons, they’ve truly made it.
So Where is Springfield, Really?
To be honest, Springfield can be wherever you want it to be. Whether it’s based on Groening’s place of origin or not, there’s certainly a reason the name Springfield was chosen. Beyond being named after a hometown. The Simpsons was made to appeal to the average, everyday, layperson. Everyone and everything is a caricature of things we all see and observe every day, which is why everyone can relate to The Simpsons in at least some way, shape, or form. Some of us more than others, we admit. With “Springfields” being all over the place, it’s fitting that at the end of the day, we can project more than just ourselves and our lives onto The Simpsons. We can also project our homes.
Think you know your Simpsons? Test yourself with a Springfield battery here.