The Simpsons fan world is abuzz with the news Matt Groening has revealed the real Springfield is near his hometown in Oregon. This is probably unsurprising news as many people have guessed Springfield, Oregon was where Groening got the name. However, it seems to have been slightly more complex, with Groening telling the Smithsonian Magazine:
The only reason is that when I was a kid, the TV show “Father Knows Best” took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown. When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name. I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, “This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield.” And they do.
Groening went on to say that many other aspects of Springfield are actually drawn from his experience of Portland (which is not new information, for those of you playing along at home), including street names and the names of a whole heap of recurring characters, plus the general layout of Evergreen Terrace with the woods behind it. However, this doesn’t mean the ‘location’ of Springfield has been revealed once and for all, because throughout the seasons there have been hundreds of conflicting pieces of evidence that all add up to Springfield being, literally, stateless. My friends at Simpsonology put it best:
I’m just going to throw this out like I do every week or so . . . Springfield is not in any particular state. It is a microcosm of the U.S.
— Denise and Karma (@Simpsonology) April 11, 2012
The wide-ranging interview also covered aspects of Homer’s characterisation that I find intriguing. I have written of my observation that Homer is almost never violent to women, and certainly never violent to Marge (though it was a half-developed thought that got smothered by a larger piece). Greoning covers that off:
The only thing he [Groening’s father] said was that Homer could never, ever be mean to Marge. He said that was a rule, which corresponds with the way he treated my mother. He was very nice to her. I thought that was a good note. I don’t know if that is a rule that has ever been articulated to people who work on the show, but everyone just gets it.
So, I feel kinda vindicated there. If only my thesis was about violence in The Simpsons…
If you want to read the rest of the article – and you should – it’s available here. I’d love to hear your thoughts.