Time and again The-Simpsons-Halloween-Specials are to be seen on television. In one particular episode, “↑Homer 3“ (1996) ↑by Pacific Data Images, Homer tries to hide behind a cupboard as his wife Marge’s sisters are about to pay a visit to the Simpsons’ home. When Homer touches the wall he discovers that he can reach through it. As he is a TV-buff with an ample pop-culture-knowledge, it’s instantaneously clear to him, that through the wall he can reach another dimension, just like he had seen it in “↑The Twilight Zone“ or Tobe Hooper’s “↑Poltergeist“. When the dreaded sisters-in-law approach menacingly, Homer escapes right through the wall. And he indeed enters a new dimension, a world like, as he himself remarks, it is portrayed in the 1980s’ movie “↑Tron“. Homer isn’t anymore depicted as a flat cartoon-character, but rendered three-dimensionally. He stands on a rectangular grid—the ever-resurfacing archetypical symbol for computer-generated 3d-space—, neon-glowing mathematical equations and geometrical primitives float and drive around in space. In the end Homer unvoluntarily opens a fast growing black hole into which the whole space and its contents, including himself, vanishes … just to reappaear in, well, yet another world.
This reminded me of yet another episode, “↑The mysterious voyage of Homer“ (1997), wherein Homer eats quite a quantity of extremely spicy chilli-con-carne and in consequence has to live through a LSD-style trip. He enters another world (the techniques used by the artists change here, too), speaks to a turtle and a fox, climbs a meso-american pyramid and so on—an allusion to drug-induced experiences of separate realities described by famous cultural anthropologist, pop-culture hero, and godfather of the New Age, Carlos Castaneda.
In the early 1970s drugs were the metaphors for portals to other worlds, since “Neuromancer” and “Tron” it’s ICTs. And I am inclined to believe that the idea for the computer-rendered Homer was triggered by Homer-themed modifications of player characters for First-Person multiplayer-shooters.
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