I've been reading my way through The Day of the Locust this week. The story is set in Hollywood in the 30's, following a costume designer as he tries to win his dream girl and make it in the shark-eat-shark world of making movies. Everything had been going along just fine, until I was introduced to a new character yesterday. Until I was introduced to a character who would compete with the protagonist for the affections of this dream girl. Until I was introduced to a character named: Homer Simpson.
For the last twenty or thirty pages, most of which has focused on Homer Simpson, I have found it incredibly difficult to remained focus on my reading. How can I take a man with that moniker seriously? Every time he speaks, I imagine Homer's voice. When he opens a can of tuna, I instinctively think of "...mmmmm....tuna...." When he grabs his hat before going out, I think of Homer wearing a top hat and monocle, pretending to be wealthy so he can test drive a new Bentley. When his "distaste for liquor" is mentioned, I don't believe it; knowing all too well Homer's regular stool at Moe's.
If it was a different name, say, Sam Malone or Cliff Huxtable, it would be funny, and I might point it out to others, but it wouldn't be so difficult to get past it and move on. But Homer Simpson is probably the most iconic character of not only the past 25 years that he's been on the air, but in the history of television. He's ingrained in our culture, and his expressions are in our lexicon (and even in the dictionary). "The Simpsons" has become more than just a TV show, it has, in a way, defined this generation. The show debuted in 1989 when I was 10 years old. I don't really remember life "pre-Simpsons;" it has been on the air my entire concious life. In a way, Homer Simpsons is as real to me as anybody. I know his past, his present, even his future (multiple different one at that). I know I'll always picture 'Homer' as, well, Homer.
Maybe this secondary character won't be around much longer, maybe he'll even be killed off. I can picture it now, "The attacker thrust his arms out, pushing Homer Simpson down the lengthy staircase. As he tumbled to his death, with his last gasps of breath, he let our a series of annoyed grunts, "D'oh!, D'oh!, D'oh!"