The Simpsons appeared at roughly the same time that the internet began to burst slip into the public consciousness. As such, the show probably has had more fan sites come and go and stick around than any other single show. The Star Trek
franchise probably has more sites in total, we’re talking about five different shows there.
The Simpsons web sites have had to wage a running war with Fox execs who have been particularly diligent about cracking down on copyright infringement. Countless Simpsons web sites have come up and gone back down after losing the battle with the deep pocketed Fox suits who hired lawyers not unlike the blue-haired shyster who works for Mr. Burns and other big capitalist conglomerates dedicated to destroying the foundation of capitalism: competition.
A simple search for Simpsons web sites will bring up countless fan sites in just about every language known to man, or even that gorilla that supposedly knows sign language. Most of them feature sound clips, some of them even feature Homer saying “D’oh!” but you’ve got to dig down really deep to find those special sites. Many of them feature clipart, wallpaper, and even-shh!-screen captures. In addition, you can find icons, fonts and other goodies like trivia games. In other words, most of them are pretty much indistinguishable from each other.
Which brings us to focus of this article. Why a Saussurean interpretation of semiotics is inappropriate for analyzing postmodern textual readings, er, I mean which Simpsons web sites are essential.
It would really be impossible to visit every Simpsons web site on the internet to determine which are the best. But it is quite easy to come up with two that are going to be on everybody’s essential list. Last Exit to Springfield, named after one of the all time great Simpsons episodes, is certainly a must-see. Located at www.lardlad.com, this site features all those must-haves mentioned earlier such as wallpaper and icons and images galore. But it also features so much more.
For one thing, if you never got a chance to enjoy the short-lived Simpsons Sunday comic strip, you can find it here. The site features full-color reproductions of the much lamented strip which never even made it into most newspapers. Here you will also find just about every online game featuring the Simpsons ever created, from a random quote generator to Simpsons Pong.
If you simply must have Australian articles on The Simpsons, Lardlad is the site for you. There are over three dozen Simpsons-related articles or interviews at your disposal. You can also find episode guides for all 17 seasons, character biographies and information on members of the cast. The Simpsons is famous for its abundance of spinoff merchandising and this site is great for narrowing down your search. Once you find something you like, you can also just click on the link to take you to the consumer paradises where you can buy them.
One thing that sets this site apart is the unique content that tests your Simpsons knowledge. Even if you consider you’re a total Simpsons fanatic-and your author does-you can bet on being stumped. For instance, there is the Cryptic Quote, in which you try to figure out a mathematical code to arrive at a famous Simpsons quote. Test your mettle against others and see how well you stack up.
Another fun game is called Lost and Found in which you try to determine to whom a certain, usually rather obscure, item belongs to. You really have to be a freeze-framer fanatic to do well in this game. There is also a slide puzzle, a memory game and a trivia quiz.
This is a genuinely fun site where you can literally spend minutes enjoying yourself. I kid. I kid because I love. Seriously, though, go to Last Exit to Springfield and before you know it, half the day will be gone.
Still, when it comes to Simpsons web sites, there is only one king and it doesn’t have anything to do with Fox Television. The Simpsons Archive, found at www.snpp.com is, hands down, the best Simpsons web site around. If you want to know every single obscure bit of trivia about an episode, this is the place for you. If you want to keep up on every single bit of obscure news having anything even remotely to do with The Simpsons, you will find it waiting for you here.
The best thing about The Simpsons Archive is that it truly reflects its name. Ever wanted to see a comprehensive list of every reference to a US President made on the show? Here it is. What about references to Ivy League or apes? (Like anyone could tell the difference?) Here you will find a list of every license tag ever featured on the show. Here you will discover the arcane rules to The Simpsons Drinking Game.
You get the idea. The Simpsons Archive is clearly the only place in cyberspace where the true Simpsons junkie ever really needs to go. But it’s more than that. Perhaps no other show on television has been the subject of so many serious books, essays and dissertations and you will find excerpts from those books and the full text of many of those essays and dissertations on this truly awe-inspiring site.
It is a supreme injustice to label this site a fan site. Your average fan site doesn’t feature an essay like Michael Frost’s Discourse Stu Likes Discourse Theory, a seriously researched article that studies the Simpsons from the point of such philosophic heavyweights as Michel Foucault and Jean-Francois Lyotard.
But it’s not all deep and profound. There are also full text articles about the Simpsons that were originally published in such non-profound entities as Entertainment Weekly and ABCnews.com.
Like Lardlad, the Simpsons Archive features an extensive episode guide, but this is so much more than an episode guide. Compiled by a community of fans, these guides don’t just stop at simple synopses. Each and every episode is pored over for the most obscure pop culture references and the most difficult to detect freeze-frame gags. Think you know everything that happens in your favorite Simpsons episode? Think again. I guarantee you will discover something in these guides that you overlooked.
It is quite possible that there are better Simpsons web sites out there than Last Exit to Springfield and The Simpsons Archive. But I doubt it.