It's "Mr. Scorpio," but don't call me that, either. Call me Hank.
October 12, 2016 6:30 PM   Subscribe

At the peak of its cultural power and (say many) quality, the eighth season of The Simpsons may have peak-peaked with "You Only Move Twice", which introduced the world to tech mogul-slash-New Agey boss-slash-Bond Bont supervillain Hank Scorpio (voiced (and, in fact, largely improvised) by Albert Brooks). The Ringer's Alan Siegel delves into Scorpio's genesis and shows us why he's more than just a great character -- he's the eerily prescient predecessor of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos and their interplanetary dreams.
posted by Etrigan (52 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
Awwuuhh, the Denver Broncos!
posted by leotrotsky at 6:50 PM on October 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


Also reminiscent of a certain other visionary.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:58 PM on October 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


he takes off the shoes, throws them out the door, and asks Homer if he’s ever seen a guy say goodbye to a shoe. “Yes, once,” Homer replies. In a testament to the obsessive nature of Simpsons fandom (and to Sayre’s law), the throwaway exchange has sparked one of the most heated and least important debates in history.

Some believe that Homer is talking about what he’d just seen. Others are sure that Homer is referring to a different guy he once saw saying goodbye to a shoe.


Wait are you kidding me this is a debate? This was always my favorite line in the episode and I 100% without question thought it was just riffing on Homer's short attention span and he was referring to what just happened.
posted by windbox at 6:58 PM on October 12, 2016 [32 favorites]


Are you kidding me? He's clearly referring to some other time when he saw a guy say goodbye to a pair of shoes. Think about all the weird shit that happens to Homer- do you think someone saying goodbye to shoes is outside the realm of possibility for him?

Heck, it was probably Moe.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:01 PM on October 12, 2016 [29 favorites]


Clearly, Homer once saw Ralph Wiggum (as a viking) say goodbye to a shoe in a dream.
posted by Iridic at 7:03 PM on October 12, 2016 [20 favorites]


At the peak of its cultural power and (say many) quality, the eighth season of The Simpsons may have peak-peaked with "You Only Move Twice",

I'm sorry but did I wake up this morning in a universe where "Bart After Dark", "Homer's Phobia", "Homer's Enemy", or "Brother from Another Series" weren't made?
posted by Talez at 7:03 PM on October 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


"Shake it madam! Capital Knockers!"

That one always has me in stitches.
posted by Talez at 7:05 PM on October 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry but did I wake up this morning in a universe where "Bart After Dark", "Homer's Phobia", "Homer's Enemy", or "Brother from Another Series" weren't made?

You've reminded me of just how good that season was, but "You Only Move Twice" is still the best in my book.
posted by explosion at 7:12 PM on October 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


Uh guys, do you know where I can buy a business hammock?
posted by littlesq at 7:17 PM on October 12, 2016 [11 favorites]


I just wish they'd kept Marge as daytime wine drinker.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 7:17 PM on October 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


I say "Hammock District" and "You're so reticulated" a lot more than is probably warranted. I also spent WAY to much time getting Hank Scorpio's car in the Simpsons open world / racing game, because HANK SCORPIO!

"If you could kill somebody on your way out that would really help me out a lot."

Right up there with "A Fish Called Selma" or "Radioactive Man" or "Homer's Phobia."
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:19 PM on October 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh, the hammock district.
posted by teponaztli at 7:23 PM on October 12, 2016 [6 favorites]




Since I don't want to give ad impressions to such a ridiculous premise, could someone who's already done so give me the Cliff's Notes?

Is the takeaway here:

A. Musk and Bezos murder secret agents, slaughter soldiers with flamethrowers while laughing sadistically, have weather machines and germ warfare divisions, and use doomsday devices to blackmail the world.

or:

B. The author is an ass who creates Luddite hyperbole for clickbait.

Footnote: if it turns out that Musk and Bezos have actually held entire countries hostage, I'm going to have to know which countries before passing judgement one way or the other.

Nobody ever says Italy.

posted by roystgnr at 7:26 PM on October 12, 2016 [5 favorites]




I was under the impression Hank Scorpio was based, at least in part, on sports team owner Pat Croce.

And the big difference between Scorpio and modern Valley douchebags is that Scorpio seems to actually let his employees have lives outside of work.

And now, Hank Scorpio saying "Popeye, Papain" for 24 hours.
posted by SansPoint at 7:31 PM on October 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


I...don't think this episode was that great? Brooks as Scorpio is impeccable, but the rest of the family in Cypress Creek feels really aimless.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:34 PM on October 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


A great episode. I love the bit about the hammocks. He also features in the best 'kill it with fire' meme.
posted by msbutah at 7:37 PM on October 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I grew up in Silicon Valley, and this episode made me choke with laughter when it premiered. Hank Scorpio was too low-key to be Jerry Sanders but someone of that ilk.
posted by queensissy at 7:43 PM on October 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sorry it's not in packages. You want some cream?

I loved that line, and I recall seeing the episode in reruns and being excited for it.... but the cream part was cut :(
posted by flaterik at 7:47 PM on October 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


The shoe debate is completely unlike the Viking debate in the sense that I would happily consider both sides amusing in their implications.

- Homer's extreme literalness and short attention span in the face of a strange action.
- The same literalness applied to his life being strange enough that this has happened before.
posted by solarion at 7:50 PM on October 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


I don't know why, but I was actually thinking about this episode today for no apparent reason. Specifically the "yes, once" line (which was obviously referring to an earlier incident because, like Weinstein says, the logic is just too convoluted to make it be about something that literally just happened). It's funny because of the little laugh he has in there, like it's not just that he saw a guy say goodbye to a shoe at some point, but that it's a good story.

Anyway, I didn't really get the comparison with Silicon Valley until I was older, but it does it so well. "I was the first rich guy to wear jeans with a blazer - now they all do it!"
posted by teponaztli at 7:53 PM on October 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


This is my all-time favorite episode of The Simpsons. There are many amazing and excellent episodes, especially from around that time frame, but this will always be #1 to me. I've always had a fascination with larger-than-life villains, their goals and plans, and especially their henchmen and how they're managed. Venture Bros. obviously also tickles that happy brain place for me.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 7:59 PM on October 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


I always loved the callback that the kid who's in the remedial program because he's Canadian so they think he's slow's name is Gordie.
posted by hwyengr at 8:17 PM on October 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


Team Homer's Phobia here. I mean, John Waters plus The Simpsons in its prime?

Reciting from memory here, so forgive transcription errors:

"It's camp!"

*blank stare from Homer*

"The tragically ludicrous? The ludicrously tragic?"

"Oh! Like when a clown dies."

"Sort of."

C'MON!
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:28 PM on October 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


Heck, it was probably Moe.

SOME of us remember that Moe wears bread bags for shoes, hmph.

(I miss the good Simpsons days. That show made me laugh so hard and now it makes me sad).
posted by emjaybee at 8:33 PM on October 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


There are entire generations of talented comedy writers who grew up on The Simpsons. And somehow The Simpsons hasn't hired a single one of them.
posted by thecjm at 8:41 PM on October 12, 2016 [18 favorites]


I got in one of the longest bar arguments of my life about whether or not Homer had seen someone other than Hank Scorpio throw away shoes. I was absolutely sure my way was the only proper reading of the joke. Now I can't remember which side I was arguing.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:43 PM on October 12, 2016 [48 favorites]


The location in my profile is The Hammock District. Looking forward to reading TFA when I get home, thanks for posting this!
posted by Room 641-A at 8:43 PM on October 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Nobody ever says Italy.
posted by nubs at 8:45 PM on October 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


He loves German beer!
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:49 PM on October 12, 2016


I think about Bart's safety paper A LOT.
posted by redsparkler at 8:54 PM on October 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


I don't know why, but I was actually thinking about this episode today for no apparent reason.

Funny, I was thinking about this episode today, too. But I know exactly why.

Someone was nodding off in a meeting at work and someone else asked her if she needed a nap, which reminded me of the nap room at my previous company, which was really the lactation room, which led me to exploring the floorplan of our current office in my mind for a nook in which to squeeze a new nap room. The only solution I could come up with?

Hammocks!

Hanging from the open ceiling in the break area.
posted by bunbury at 9:15 PM on October 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


♫He loves German beer!♫

The Scorpio theme!
posted by bunbury at 9:19 PM on October 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Regarding the shoe debate: It's not as fun, but concluding what any art really means ignores that ambiguity is consciously exploited by artists.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 9:19 PM on October 12, 2016


Now I can't remember which side I was arguing.

PITT THE ELDER!
posted by MrBadExample at 9:26 PM on October 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


ambiguity is consciously exploited by artists.
...and that's where I'm a Minnesota Viking! (Defensive Linesman, 2nd team)
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:29 PM on October 12, 2016


Since I don't want to give ad impressions to such a ridiculous premise, could someone who's already done so give me the Cliff's Notes?

Option C: My dad worked as an engineer for a tech company that went from startup to zillion-dollar industry, and I'm on my way to follow in those footsteps in a slightly different area (computer hard drives vs. web 2.0 financial services) but both of our companies' founders are Hank Scorpios to a shocking degree. You likely pay money every month to several companies run by Hank Scorpios. They, in turn, delegate to a great-gross of other companies founded by Hank Scorpios.

If you've ever heard of asbestos or global warming, you already know how the "bond villain" part here is a matter of degree, not kind. No ludditism necessary, in fact I'm firmly in team "tech is cool", but being also in team "water is life" (that pipeline in North Dakota is still an ongoing fight, don't forget) I know how many of us already live in Cyprus Creek.
posted by traveler_ at 9:37 PM on October 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


PITT THE ELDER!

LORD PALMERSTON!
posted by traveler_ at 9:42 PM on October 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


This is a very well written and funny episode, but it's also the episode that signaled the death of The Simpsons. Before this we got - with a few exceptions, of course - stories that really could happen, human stories full of genuine characters and real emotion, stories starring somebody else rather than Homer. The success of You Only Move Twice put The Simpsons on a Homercentric and unrealistic path and then it got totally lost.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 1:48 AM on October 13, 2016 [8 favorites]


At the peak of its cultural power and (say many) quality, the eighth season of The Simpsons may have peak-peaked with "You Only Move Twice",

I'm sorry but did I wake up this morning in a universe where "Bart After Dark", "Homer's Phobia", "Homer's Enemy", or "Brother from Another Series" weren't made?


I've never checked what seasons my favourites were from. Let's see:

Last Exit To Springfield, Lemon of Troy, Stark Raving Dad, Radio Bart, Treehouse of Horror VI, Marge vs. the Monorail, Homer the Heretic, Homer's Barbershop Quartet, Homer the Great, El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer, The Boy Who Knew Too Much, Homie the Clown

so 4, 6, 3, 3, 7, 4, 4, 5, 6, 8, 5, 6. Sounds about right.
posted by kersplunk at 2:41 AM on October 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


> "Homer's Enemy"

..was the beginning of the end!
posted by thedaniel at 3:41 AM on October 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Clearly, Homer once saw Ralph Wiggum (as a viking) say goodbye to a shoe in a dream.

In my headcannon Simpsons, there are extended segments where Ralph Wiggum relives one of his past lives as a Viking, and occasionally, performs feats of heroism or strength on the schoolyard.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:59 AM on October 13, 2016


Since this is a rare (I think?) Simpsons episode that was heavily ad-libbed, the shoe joke and reaction could be off the cuff.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:37 AM on October 13, 2016


(oh yeah, and after RTROTFA it says he did improvise the line)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:39 AM on October 13, 2016


Popeye, Papain, Popeye, Papain, see same thing!
posted by leotrotsky at 5:43 AM on October 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hank Scorpio is alright.
posted by hankscorpio83 at 7:45 AM on October 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


I got in one of the longest bar arguments of my life about whether or not Homer had seen someone other than Hank Scorpio throw away shoes.

You can't argue with the little things, it's the little things that make up life.
posted by nubs at 8:02 AM on October 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


I know it's an unoriginal sentiment, but I feel it was an awful failure of the Simpsons movie that it wasn't about the return of Hank Scorpio. Instead they used the same voice actor for a lesser role. Sigh.

And apparently kersplunk and I have nearly identical favorite Simpsons episodes.

Anecdote: About a year ago one of the active writers of the Simpsons emailed me in the middle of the night and said he loved my work and that we should collaborate on something. I replied with reserved enthusiasm. Many hours later he replied, stating that he had been on Ambien and had no recollection of sending the original email. Lol?
posted by Hot Pastrami! at 8:58 AM on October 13, 2016 [16 favorites]


I think the transformation of FXX into basically a perpetual Simpsons marathon machine was a good one for many reasons but mainly because it reminds me on a daily basis how fucking terrific and essential that show was before it ran off the rails.
posted by blucevalo at 9:25 AM on October 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


From the article (emph. added):
Since appearing in “You Only Move Twice,” which aired on Fox 20 years ago next month, Hank Scorpio has become an archetype.
20 years ago? This episode aired before most current college freshmen were born. We are now as far away from Season 8 of The Simpsons as Season 8 was from the debut seasons of Laverne & Shirley, The Bionic Woman, and Charlie's Angels in 1976.
posted by mhum at 4:53 PM on October 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


Canadians got burned hard in this episode. Coo coo! Coo coo!
posted by Brocktoon at 5:07 PM on October 13, 2016


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