What Abe Simpson yelled at

Clint Eastwood’s appearance at the Republican convention is the talk of Twitter and morning TV today. As part of his shtick, the filmmaker spoke to an imaginary Barack Obama, who was represented by an empty chair.

The chair has, of course, led to various online memes, including this one with a “Simpsons” reference:

Some people seem to think this is an odd coincidence, equating Eastwood with Abe “Grampa” Simpson. But I knew immediately that this was an altered version of a real “Simpsons” joke. Here’s the original:

How did I detect this? For one thing, my colleague Bill Cloud is known for giving students extra credit for headlines that include “cloud” references. Secondly, I’m a longtime “Simpsons” viewer to the point that I am probably in the 1 percent in “Simpsons” trivia.

So if you see that “Old Man Yells At Chair” image on Facebook or Twitter in the coming days, you’ll know it wasn’t the real gag. Changing an image for a news event is, of course, part of how memes work. That’s fine. And it’s harmless in that it doesn’t cast an actual person or organization in a bad light, unlike this one.

This is not the only time “The Simpsons” has used headline humor. More about that here.