America’s favourite family has done a lot more than entertain us for the past 27 years; it has successfully predicted presidential candidates, global disease outbreaks and technological breakthroughs. The Simpsons, the brilliant brainchild of Matt Groening, has received widespread critical acclaim for its irreverent comedy and masterful storytelling that has spanned nearly 600 episodes. As this article attests, the animated sitcom should also receive an award for boldly predicting future events of monumental significance. Below is a rundown of just five of these predictions that are sure to give readers something to think about.
Donald Trump to run for U.S. President
For many people, the thought of Donald Trump running for United States President was laughable. The real estate mogul and double comb-over magnate has been featured on TV shows like The Apprentice (where people compete for a management job in one of Trump’s companies) and WWE Raw (where Trump was involved in a feud with company CEO Vince McMahon). But on June 16, 2015, he formally announced his candidacy for president. What’s more bizarre, Trump garners 25% of the Republican vote as of October 2, well ahead of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson.
The Simpsons predicted this strange phenomenon as far back as March 2000 in an episode titled, “Bart to the Future,” in which Bart gets a glimpse of his life 30 years down the road. Although Bart’s future doesn’t look too bright, his sister Lisa becomes the “first straight female president” of the United States who “inherited quite a budget crunch from President Trump.” Apparently Trump not only ran for President, but also won, before bankrupting the nation in Balanced Breakfast and Midnight Basket programs, among other things.
Ebola Virus Outbreak
In an October 1997 episode entitled, “Lisa’s Sax,” Marge holds up a book in the Curious George series. The title? Curious George and the Ebola Virus (Google it, you won’t miss it). The scene features Marge asking Bart if he wanted to read the book. Bart declines and points to a picture in which he is dead.
It would take 16 years before the next major Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Nearly 30,000 cases have been reported around the world, the vast majority of which in West Africa. The disease has killed more than 11,000 people as of September 2015.
For this one, we have to go way back to 1994 to an episode called “Lisa On Ice.” The episode features several premonitions, most notably the first autocorrect. In the episode school bully Dolph tries to write the phrase, “Beat up Martin,” on an old school Newton tablet. It came out “Eat up Martha.”
The autocorrect fail reportedly haunted Apple’s software engineers for years while developing the keyboard for the iPhone. According to Nitin Ganatra, former director of engineering for Apple iOS, “In the hallways [at Apple] and while we were talking about the keyboard, you would always hear the words, ‘Eat Up Martha.’”
“We needed to nail the keyboard,” he added. “We needed to make sure the text input works on the thing, otherwise, ‘Here comes the Eat Up Marthas.’”
Unfortunately, Apple wasn’t entirely successful in avoiding the Eat Up Marthas. It’s infamously unreliable autocorrect system has been the brunt of many internet jokes over the years.
In the 2001 episode, “New Kids on the Blecch,” Bart and his friends retire from a boy band that was involved in a subliminal recruitment program by the U.S. Navy. In their hit music video, the boy band drop bombs on an unnamed Middle Eastern country. In the video one of the enemy jeeps has a clear picture of the Free Syrian Army Flag (green, white and black with three stars). The image was brought forward as proof of a U.S.-led conspiracy to overthrow the Assad regime by Egyptian TV network al-Tahrir in 2014.
The idea that the U.S. would conspire to overthrow a foreign government is nothing new. While some commentators suggest that the FSA’s flag closely resembles Syria’s independence flag that was first used in the 1930s, how it ended up on an episode of The Simpsons is truly astounding. After all, just ten years later Syria would plunge into one of the worst humanitarian disasters of the 21st century.
Electronic voting malfunction
The 2008 “Treehouse of Horror XIX” episode features Homer trying to vote for Barack Obama in an electronic voting booth, only to see his selection repeatedly turn into a vote for Republican candidate John McCain. Just four years later, many voters complained about the same issue when trying to vote for Obama, only this time the machine was rigged to vote for Mitt Romney. Several states reported the malfunction. Some voters even reported the same problem, only in reverse: the machine automatically selected Obama when they pressed to vote for Romney.
Regardless of the direction of the malfunction, The Simpsons was bang on in predicting the potential downside of electronic voting booths. The decision to poke fun at this potential blunder makes you appreciate even more the political astuteness of the show’s writers.