Smithsonian Magazine just did an interview with Simpsons creator Matt Groening, and the ‘netz are all abuzz because the article is titled “Matt Groening Reveals The Location Of The Real Springfield”, which of course, has the internet going nuts with declarations that “THE REAL LOCATION OF THE SIMPSONS’ SPRINGFIELD HAS FINALLY BEEN REVEALED!” (Including, but not limited to, The Simpsons Facebook page)
Except it hasn’t. Let’s take a look at what Groening actually says in the interview:
OK, why do the Simpsons live in a town called Springfield? Isn’t that a little generic?
Springfield was named after Springfield, Oregon. The only reason is that when I was a kid, the TV show “Father Knows Best” took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown. When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name. I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, “This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield.” And they do.
You’ve never said it was named after Springfield, Oregon, before, have you?
I don’t want to ruin it for people, you know? Whenever people say it’s Springfield, Ohio, or Springfield, Massachusetts, or Springfield, wherever, I always go, “Yup, that’s right.”
Make sense? Here’s why all of this hubbub is stupid:
Matt Groening revealed the location of the Springfield which inspired him to name the Simpsons’ town “Springfield.” He’s not saying that the Simpsons characters officially live in Oregon, and even if he did, that wouldn’t retroactively transform the world of the show to have taken place in Oregon this whole time. Groening also based the Simpsons’ names on those of his family, but this doesn’t mean that the Simpsons in any way are the Groenings; just because the Springfield thing is an intentionally vague joke-mystery doesn’t mean that the real-life inspiration for it just ‘becomes’ the in-show truth.
Also, if we’re gonna be Simpsons nerdy about this, the “Behind The Laughter” episode refers to The Simpsons as a “Northern Kentucky family” (though some subsequent airings of were altered). The “validity” of this meta-episode within the Simpsons canon is obviously debatable, as it’s already an absurd meta-episode in which the characters are entirely self-aware, but as far as the “real location of Springfield” goes, I’d argue that a detail revealed on the actual show affects the fictional world of The Simpsons more than a Matt Groening magazine interview in 2012.
Plus, according to the map at the end of “Kill The Alligator And Run,” the Simpsons are already banned from vacationing in every state except for Arizona and North Dakota, and Homer notes that “Arizona smells funny, so does this mean that the real Springfield has to be in North Dakota? No. What it means is, there can’t really be a “true” location of Springfield; its home state already been joked about and made intentionally-vague to the point where any ‘actual’ answer instantly conflicts with some other aspect on the show that’s already been revealed (much like just about every other detail on the series after 20 seasons).
Obviously, even for a Simpsons nerd like myself, this is nit-picky, but I raise the issue only to hopefully curb some of this link-baiting “SPRINGFIELD MYSTERY SOLVED!!!” internet-thusiasm. The mystery hasn’t been ‘solved’, and it’s not even really a ‘solvable’ mystery; Matt Groening just said which state’s Springfield initially inspired him to name the Simpsons’ town, a fact which doesn’t impact the Simpsons’ show-world at all. Though of course, the link-baiting wasn’t ineffective, because here we are.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go click on this GQ article, “CHRISTINA HENDRICKS FINALLY GETS TOPLESS is a headline we won’t be reading anytime soon says Christina Hendricks in this interview.“