Monday nights are usually dedicated to a feisty debate between the Macquarie Liberal and Labor clubs, but today we’re swapping out the serious stuff for Simpsons-themed satire. Read on for a Q&A with the founder of The Simpsons Against the Liberals Facebook page, which began in 2014 and now has a following of nearly 75,000. The page has become a regular place for fans to visit and vent their frustrations at the shambling Government, whose antics go hand in hand with the clueless characters and ridiculous happenings of Springfield.
What inspired you to create The Simpsons Against the Liberals?
I watched the Budget live in 2014 and thought it was just an irresponsible and unfair budget. It made me incredibly angry. The next day I made a joke on Facebook how you could put any random scene with some quote and it would relate to the current political situation. A friend commented that I should make it into a page and I did. We got over 2000 likes in the first 24 hours and I’ve been running it ever since.
Have you ever been contacted by a Liberal Party member? And do any Labor, Greens or Independent MPs follow you or share you content?
I’ve never been contacted by a Liberal Party member in parliament. We’ve been trolled a lot by Liberals and One Nation fans though. Yes Labor, Greens and Independent MPs have all shared our content or have participated in our photo series #inrodwetrust where we ask politicians to take a photo with the inanimate carbon rod. We definitely have many politicians (and if not them their staff) who are fans of our work. Every time I meet a politician their staff always say ‘I love your page’ in some way.
Which Liberal MP do you dislike the most?
It’s a three-way tie currently. I think Malcolm Turnbull as leader of the Liberal Party has sold out and refuses to stand up against the right wing. The marriage equality plebiscite is an example – we all know he doesn’t want it, but he has sold out to the right wing of his party who are against marriage equality. Peter Dutton is up there for his awful treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. Cory Bernardi as well because he constantly says homophobic and completely offensive things.
Do you think the page has an impact of social issue? For example the CUB beer boycott?
I think so in the sense many news websites use The Simpsons as a reference to politics. I do hope we have an impact – when I first created the page and noticed how high the demand was for The Simpsons related political commentary, I thought it was a great way to communicate to voters who may not pay attention to politics normally. Most of our fans are males between the ages of 18-24, and we know young people are the least likely to vote. As for the CUB boycott, I was already participating so I thought I’d combine my participation of the boycott through my page. Will it make an impact? I am unsure, but at our peak we have had a reach of five million so I do hope it spreads the word.
Do you think the page has longevity? Will you still be around for the next Federal election?
We’ve lasted two years, that is two years longer I believed the page would last. I hope we’re around, but we’ll see. The Liberals keep surprising us in how incompetent they are.
Has anyone approached you about buying the page?
We’ve been approached to sell our page a few times. Most of the time it is span but sometimes we’ve received significant offers of money. I will not sell the page. I’ve put too much time into this page and I believe this page is perhaps one of the best things I have created in my life so far. I genuinely love the page and I just don’t think I could sell it.
What’s your favourite creation?
Probably this one from when Malcolm Turnbull kicked out Tony Abbott, created by someone named Kai.
Why do you think using The Simpsons as a way of protesting against the Liberal Party is so effective?
Back in the 90s there were only four or five channels. There wasn’t much selection when it came to TV and the Simpsons were always on at 6pm on Channel Ten. You have a whole generation of people who watched The Simpsons every night. When my friend went to the USA last year and she was shocked by how few Americans were big Simpsons fans. In Australia, I can easily name 10-15 of my mates who are big Simpsons fans. I doubt there will be another TV show ever again that will be as influential on Australians than The Simpsons was.
Have you ever considered taking the Simpsons Against the Liberals beyond the Facebook page? If so, in what way?
We do have Twitter and an Instagram account but I would like to take it beyond the page. I’ve definitely thought about making a book of my favourite images, but I am unsure if it will happen – I don’t want to get sued! I want the page to be more involved working with relevant organisations in promoting campaigns. I would like the page to be considered in the same category as political cartoons and be published in newspapers one day.
Is the Simpsons Against the Liberals a collaborative effort or is it just you who creates the memes, including the odd contribution?
It is definitely a collaborative effort. We have a few people who are involved in the page that also make images, I make images still but not as much these days. We mostly accept submissions and we also share content from our group Compuglobalhypermeganet – Australia’s best Facebook Simpsons group.
Interview || Phillip Leason