Homer Simpson, profiled in the Sunday Times of London. No, really, he was:
He has a distinguished ancestry. There was Shakespeare’s fat, lying but ultimately fabulous drunkard Sir John Falstaff. There was Sancho Panza, another fat, worldly character, the foil to Cervantes’s crazed Don Quixote. And there was Wilkins Micawber, the hopeless but hopeful spendthrift in Dickens’s David Copperfield. Every age needs its great, consoling failure, its lovable, pretension-free mediocrity. And we have ours in Homer Simpson, the greatest comic creation of our time.
[B]eneath it all beats a gigantic, golden heart. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, once said The Simpsons was “one of the most subtle pieces of propaganda around in the cause of sense, humility and virtue”. Homer is, in spite of everything, a good man. At once it should be said that much of the credit for this goodness goes to Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer. He says he always rejects anything in the script that requires Homer to do anything mean.
“He’s boorish and unthinking, but he’d never be mean on purpose. I try to keep him on track.”
Homer is good because, above all, he is capable of great love. When the chips are down, he always does the right thing by his children – rejecting an offer of $1m from Mr Burns for a teddy bear of Maggie’s – and by Marge – he is never unfaithful in spite of several opportunities. And it’s not because he fears being found out; it’s because he can’t. What Marge understands and what her sisters don’t is that having all of Homer is far, far better than having half of any ordinary man.
This capacity for love dwarfs his failings. Even God sees this. Homer can’t stand his fundamentalist Christian neighbour, Flanders, and is bored to death by the sermons of the weary Reverend Lovejoy. He also has little time for the Bible – “If the Bible has taught us nothing else,” he tells Lisa, “and it hasn’t, it’s that girls should stick to girls’ sports.” But when God drops in for a chat, he discovers in Homer a surprisingly convincing theology. Basically, this is that life is tough and humans are hopeless but, without making a fuss about it, God is always there as the last safety net. And, when He’s not around, there’s love.
“It is Homer,” writes Mark Pinsky in his book The Gospel According to The Simpsons, “who has the most personal relationship with God.”
Homer Simpson and God, a more unlikely pair I’d never thought I’d see
H/T: Andrew Sullivan