Updated: Mar 18, 2020
A Simpsons writer has criticised fans over the “terrible” and “gross” use of an old episode to claim that the show predicted the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the past few weeks, clips from 1993 episode ‘Marge in Chains’ – which sees Springfield plagued by a fictional virus that originates in Japan called the ‘Osaka flu’ – have circulated online, which have been used in memes and racist propaganda.
Hitting back at connections some are making between the episode and the current coronavirus, co-writer Bill Oakley told The Hollywood Reporter: “I don’t like it being used for nefarious purposes. The idea that anyone misappropriates it to make coronavirus seem like an Asian plot is terrible. In terms of trying to place blame on Asia — I think that is gross.”
Oakley went on to explain that the storyline was inspired by the 1968 Hong Kong flu, adding:
“It was just supposed to be a quick joke about how the flu got here.
“It was meant to be absurd that someone could cough into box and the virus would survive for six to eight weeks in the box. It is cartoonish. We intentionally made it cartoonish because we wanted it to be silly and not scary, and not carry any of these bad associations along with it, which is why the virus itself was acting like a cartoon character and behaving in extremely unrealistic ways.”