Pounding back Duff beer at Moe’s, pretending to listen to Marge while not even pretending to care, and drooling at the thought of donuts: all super-worthwhile activities. They also happen to be conclusive evidence that, if there's one thing Homer Simpson doesn’t seem capable of, it’s thinking in more than one dimension.
But in an example of just how pervasive one of his own memes has become, not even Springfield’s most lovable dolt (d’ohlt?) has to overthink things when it comes to letting a picture do the talking. In a fun meta-moment from this week’s episode of The Simpsons, Homer shows off his texting savvy, using the instantly-recognizable animated gif of himself fading into the bushes to let Lisa know he realizes he’s being an idiot.
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Much like a person who can’t find their glasses because, you know, they’re actually wearing them, Homer’s in a panic because he can’t find his phone. Well, brainy Lisa seems to know everything, so why wouldn’t she know where his phone is, too? Homer shoots her a quick text — “Lisa! I can’t find my phone!” — hoping she has a fast answer.
Turns out, she does. “You’re texting on it,” she replies.
D’oh! Instead of putting his tail between his legs and saying “I’ll show myself out,” Homer turns to the one gif that everyone knows can convey, louder than words, the whole idea that it’s high time to make yourself small.
Predictably, Fox’s tweet of Homer’s latest most-embarrassing highlight inspired a deluge of fan responses, giving the show’s followers a fresh reason to trot out the many, many gifs Homer (and The Simpsons in general) have inspired to match nearly every occasion over the course of its historically lengthy TV run.
Longtime fans may remember how the whole thing got started: as a Terminator-inspired way for Homer to save face after Ned Flanders turns down his invitation to go out and bond over a round of mini-golf. The receding-into-the-bushes moment originally aired in the “Homer Loves Flanders” episode all the way back in March of 1994 — nearly 25 years ago.
Homer’s loss turned out to be the internet’s gain, though, and the rest is history. Now it’s such an entrenched part of our pop culture consciousness that even the world’s most inept nuclear safety inspector knows how to put it to appropriate — and hilarious — use.