Behind The Scenes
On Animation
June 25, 2018

9 Simpsons Quotes That Explain Branded Animation Perfectly

It’s 6:00 pm in 1990s Australia. You’re either in one of those buttoned-down families who insist on watching the 6 o’clock news every weeknight or, more likely, you’re watching The Simpsons. There are quite literally thousands of classic quotes from the first ten seasons of the long-running primetime animation that get bandied around by Australian young adults in day-to-day conversation today, and with its regular 25 year presence on Channel Ten its not hard to understand why. When a TV show grows up alongside you it burrows into your heart, with its quotes and references following you all your days like some sort of non giving up school guy.

There is indeed a Simpsons quote for every occasion, and as an animator and writer I’ve often been struck by how well the show’s dialogue relates to the animation experience. The subtle social commentary of classic Simpsons also lends itself to some hilarious insight on the workings of advertising, marketing, and design. Today I’ve put the two together and gathered just a few examples of quotes that relate to corporate animation, whether directly or indirectly. If you’re a long-time Simpsons fan hopefully you enjoy the references. If you’re not, hopefully you enjoy the soft sense of confusion you’re no doubt already experiencing. In conclusion, Libya is a land of contrast. Thank you.

“cows don’t look like cows on film. you gotta’ use horses.”

radioactive man (season 7, episode 2)

As crazy as it sounds, realism doesn’t always look believable on screen. Sometimes in animation you gotta’ break some limbs, you gotta’ over-exaggerate some faces, you gotta’ stretch and squash some characters beyond all recognition – all in the name of the illusion of motion.

“you all have hideous hair! …i mean, from a design point of view.”

lisa vs malibu stacy (season 5, episode 14)

Sometimes you’ve gotta’ take a step back from your own personal taste to look at what will fly from an audience perspective. While you might initially have strong personal ideas for character designs, colour schemes and direction, one of the reasons businesses hire creative studios to make their animated brand videos is that good studios are trained in how to use the principles and elements of design to affect an audience response. Done right, good design in animation flows into the mind of the viewer without any notice but with much conveyance.

“very few cartoons are broadcast live. it’s a terrible strain on the animators’ wrists.”

the itchy & scratchy & poochie show (season 8, episode 14)

Like a perpetual motion machine we all want our brand videos to be produced faster and faster. But, on top of obeying the laws of thermodynamics, it’s wise to keep in mind the humans behind the production house. Animation has long been one of the most labour intensive art forms, and while time doesn’t always equal quality, quality animation almost always requires time.

“so you want a realistic down to earth show…that’s completely off the wall…and swarming with magic robots?”

the itchy & scratchy & poochie show (season 8, episode 14)

Sometimes it’s hard to please every viewer, especially when that viewer has no idea what they actually want. Better to nail one main concept, mood, or idea in your animated video than to create a lukewarm mishmash of committee ideas. After all, nobody likes a Poochie.

“i used to be with it, but then they changed what ‘it’ was, and now what i’m with isn’t it, and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary to me.”

homerpalooza (season 7, episode 24)

Technology and art trends never stay still for long. While the cautious routine-monger in me hates this constant state of flux, the animator in me knows how important (and strangely satisfying) it is to be always learning, always improving and always on top of new ways to make quality videos.

“shut up brain, i got friends now. i don’t need you any more.”

bart of darkness (season 6, episode 1)

As Joni Mitchell sings, “Don’t it always seem to go that you get popular and abandon your brain cells?” I’m pretty sure those are the words. Anywho, a little success with your animated video does not mean you should throw away all outside research and advice like Homer throwing pants from a window. Learn and grow from a successful video just like you would from a failed one.

“gabbo! gabbo! gabbo!”

krusty gets kancelled (season 4, episode 22)

Being mysterious has its perks with corporate advertisement, and The Simpsons nailed it with their Gabbo Is Coming bit. I still remember the hype of ‘what is Xbox?’ floating around my high school in the early 2000s due to the entertaining but basically information-less ad campaigns that surrounded the console’s original release. Shortly after, tampon brand Kotex tried a similar mystery campaign for their ‘U’ product line featuring nothing but the product name and some basic feminine-geared coding (pink, female narrator, etc), which I remember being immediately followed by a chorus of ‘Oh cool, what’s U? I wonder if it’s like an Xbox for girls?’ No, girls. No it is not.

“excuse me, but “proactive” and “paradigm”? aren’t these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important? not that i’m accusing you of anything like that… i’m fired, aren’t i?”

the itchy & scratchy & poochie show (season 8, episode 14)

Regardless of whether your corporate animation is aimed at businesses or directly at consumers, you are always talking to humans. When writing your video script there’s no need to embiggen the language beyond recognition to sound intelligent, especially when other perfectly cromulent words will do.

“you don’t win friends with salad.”

lisa the vegetarian (season 7, episode 5)

I.e. You don’t win viewers with bland ideas done to death. Not that salad is necessarily bland – after all, who doesn’t love a good chicken caesar? Don’t forget to top that bad boy with some home-cooked spit-roasted bacon, made just a little dirty, slimy, and airbourne just as God intended. Now a big bowl of gazpacho on the other hand? That stuff’ll get you laughed out of the barbeque.

motion graphics
Written by
Maree Railton

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