By Liz Raiss
A conceptual, meme-based Twitter account may sound like something you want to punch, but @SimpsonsFilms is good. Like, really good.
The two-year-old account is built around the mislabeled film stills (2016) meme, pairing a truly weird mix of movies (Princess Mononoke, Mousehunt, Memento) with eerily on point Simpsons images. We noticed quite a few A24 releases have been blessed with the @SimpsonsFilms treatment, so we sought out its creator.
27-year-old Alex Quinn runs @SimpsonsFilms from Liverpool, where he grew up. Like a lot of UK millennials, Quinn watched the show religiously, every day at 6pm on the BBC. He’s seen nearly every episode and will even go to bat for the later seasons. Here, Alex explains what it’s like to be @SimpsonsFilms.
When did you first start watching The Simpsons?
A family member bought me a VHS compilation that had the episodes “Bart The General” and “There’s No Disgrace Like Home” on it. I was only three or four years old, but I vividly remember sitting and watching the tape constantly, even just reading the case over and over. I can’t work out what captured my imagination so much, but I’m glad it did.
How did your relationship to the show evolve over time?
The Simpsons was tea-time appointment viewing for me, my friends, and basically every kid we knew. It kind of became a tradition for people of a certain age in Britain, which definitely helped the show live long past its sell-by date with our particular generation. I’ll often put on the first ten seasons or so for background noise while I’m doing something at home. It’s like a weird comfort blanket.
What inspired you to start the @SimpsonsFilms account? How long did it take to catch on?
I had seen the “mislabeled screencap” format going around Twitter and Tumblr but had never come up with one of my own. I was racking my brain a bit trying to think of one. Then I was watching Fede Alvarez’s Don’t Breathe, and all I could think of was the episode where Bart breaks into the blind man’s home to get Santa’s Little Helper back. I was going to post it on my personal Twitter, but I decided to create a side account and treat it as a personal challenge.
I had a few thousand followers after the first month, and kept gaining two or three thousand each month after that. Then in about May 2017, there was a huge influx of like 30,000 people after I made a tweet about Suicide Squad, which kind of blew up my phone.
I do have a bit of an encyclopedic knowledge of [The Simpsons], and I often say it’s like a second language or my brain’s operating system.
Is The Simpsons the perfect show for this simply because it’s been on the air so long?
I’d definitely say that’s the case. Staying on the air for three decades straight — and actually being good for a large chunk of that time — means you’re going to have to go through nearly every story configuration. It’s what makes it tough to do tweets on older or classic films, because there’s an increasing chance that The Simpsons has already made direct references to it at some point.
How do you collect Simpsons screenshots? Do you have an encyclopedic knowledge of the show?
I do have a bit of an encyclopedic knowledge of the show, and I often say it’s like a second language or my brain’s operating system. The Frinkiac website is a godsend for finding screenshots though. Without that, I might have given up a long time ago. The challenge is watching a film and trying not to getting distracted thinking of what shots and moments I can use for a tweet, but also not trying not to forget which ones I want to use by the end of the film.
You’re so on top of A24 releases! What draws you to those films?
I think they’re just my kind of films, despite them all being so different from each other. There’s nothing wrong with big budget, big studio movies, but A24 films tend to be more interesting and unique. They’re the types of films I’d want to make if I were a director or writer.
Do people know who runs the account?
The account’s always been anonymous, I do wonder if people who follow my personal account know it’s me running it? Because I’ll often tweet about something I’ve just watched, and then all of a sudden, @SimpsonsFilms will have a tweet about that particular film. A total coincidence, obviously...
Choose Your Favorite
From a purely comedic standpoint, it’s probably Milhouse or Ralph, but overall, it’s Lisa. I always say she’s the heart of the show.
I find it so hard to narrow it down to just one, but if it’s probably “Lemon Of Troy.” It’s certainly the one I quote in conversations the most.
Definitely Hereditary. I love that film so much, and it still terrifies the hell out of me, despite having my tweets on it in my head whenever I watch it.