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Recap / The Simpsons S 9 E 22 Trash Of The Titans

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Homer's jerkass antics gets the family's garbage collection cut off, and Marge writes an apology to the garbagemen on Homer's behalf. Incensed that Marge would do something like this, Homer takes on sanitation commissioner Ray Patterson (voiced by comedian, actor, and one of Saturday Night Live's most frequent and memorable hosts, Steve Martin) in an upcoming election and wins his seat with a campaign that promises more than it can deliver.


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This episode contains examples of:

  • Abandoned Mine: Homer's solution for solving the Springfield Sanitation Department's budget crisis is to allow other U.S. cities to dump their unwanted garbage in one (located on the outskirts of the city) in exchange for money. The plan backfires when the garbage starts erupting from the ground all over the town.
  • Adam Westing: The episode pokes fun at Bono's political activism.
    Bono: Hold on, people. He's talking about waste management. That affects the whole damn planet!
    The Edge: Aww, here we go...
  • All Elections Are Serious Business: The vote for sanitation commissioner is treated like a standard big political election.
  • Analogy Backfire: When the city resumes collecting the Simpsons' garbage, just before Marge tells Homer it was because she apologized on his behalf, he asserts, "It's just like David and Goliath, only this time, David won!" Rather than correct Homer, Lisa's mind gives her Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" to bliss out to.
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  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Mayor Quimby looks at garbage that suddenly popped out of the ground at the Springfield golf course.
    Mayor Quimby: What's this? Melon rinds, pantyhose, a term paper from Texas Tech?
  • Bowdlerization: In the UK, the following scenes are cut during pre-watershed airings:
    • The many times the word "wanker" is said.
    • Homer being told by a city hall clerk that he's standing in a line for people who have to register as sex offenders (with Moe coming in and complaining that the sex offender registry line is always long).
    • Marge, Bart, and Lisa guessing that Homer raised money for the garbage collection budget by dealing drugs (though Lisa's line, "I almost wish it were drugs!" was retained).
    • Ray Patterson's line "You're screwed!" in his resignation speech was cut (though Mayor Quimby was allowed to say, "We are far from screwed!").
  • Butt-Monkey: Adam Clayton is portrayed as such within U2.
    The Edge: [To Larry Mullen] What do you say we slip out to Moe's for a pint?
    Adam: Can I come?
    The Edge: No.
    • Homer, as usual, gets beaten up by garbagemen, again by U2's security (and recorded on the concert's big screen), and is implied to get horse whipped after destroying the town after losing the Sanitation Department's entire yearly budget in less than a month.
    • Ray Patterson is tormented by Homer and the townspeople who fall for Homer's bad ideas. As Laser-Guided Karma they themselves lose their hometown.
  • Cassandra Truth: Ray Patterson tries to warn the townsfolk that Homer's promises are unworkable, but they just brush him off.
  • Chirping Crickets: Happens during the U2 concert, when Homer explains why the audience should vote for him without giving an actual reason.
  • Crying Indian: Parodied. The Crying Indian is seen and does cry when he sees a can carelessly thrown at his feet, but another Indian appears next to him and tells him not to turn around and see the true horror that pollution has wrought on the former location of Springfield. Unfortunately, the Crying Indian does turn around and screams, and the second man lectures, "I told you not to turn around."
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ray Patterson, being played by Steve Martin and all. His flat, ending declaration that the town of Springfield is screwed before leaving the people to their fate is the crowner.
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration: Homer gets backstage at a U2 gig by posing as the "poh-tah-to man". He gets in when the guard asks him, "Where the hell have you been?"
  • Description Cut: Patterson denounces Homer's "crazy promises" and calls him a "sleazy lunatic" at their debate. A Spinning Paper then establishes Homer's election, quoting him saying the said "crazy promises" were key to his win.
  • Did Not Do the Bloody Research: When this episode first aired in the UK, it caused controversy because of how it had multiple characters say "wankers" (which is a really offensive thing to call someone in the UK) in a show airing before the 9 PM watershed. Most initial airings (including its premiere there) had it cut.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Homer didn't realize how expensive his proposals would actually be. Also applies to the townsfolk who voted in Homer.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Homer goes on the warpath and ruins a man's career (and tries to kill him — Patterson also accuses Homer of cutting his brake lines at one point) and ruins an entire town (although in Homer's defense that one was due to incompetence) because he didn't liked how two trash men treated him and then didn't liked that Marge wrote a letter of apology in his name when they decided to stop picking up his trash. Also an example of Misplaced Retribution.
  • Downer Ending: Springfield is so badly trashed that the only solution is to move the whole town five miles down the road.
  • Easily Forgiven: Played with. All the people of Springfield agree to horse-whip Homer for messing up the town (at least, nobody votes against it), but strangely, as Springfield is being moved five miles down the road, Homer gets amicably welcomed by Moe when he heads into his tavern.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: If somewhat justifiably, nobody opposes brutally punishing Homer for ruining the town. To punctuate this most of Homer's close friends and family members can be seen in the front rows glaring stoically as the vote is given.
  • A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted: Homer spends his entire year's budget, $4.6 million, in less than a month.
    Homer: They let me sign checks with a stamp, Marge. A stamp!
  • Forging the Will: During a conversation, Marge calls Homer out for signing her name for numerous papers. By Homer's own admission, at least one of them was a will.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Plan B, which Quimby speaks of in an ominous tone. There's so much garbage springing up from the ground in Springfield, that the only option to save the city is to move it five miles away.
  • Green Aesop: Word of God said this was unintentional.invoked
  • Here We Go Again!: Lisa observes that even though Springfield is being moved five miles down the road, they'll almost certainly just trash it like they did to the old location.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Implied with Bart when riding with Homer to tell the citizens to vote for him, adding "If you don't, he'll beat us."note  Homer then lies and says that he won't, then says (into the megaphone)invoked that he will beat Bart as horrified citizens look on.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Homer is outraged that Marge would forge his name for an apology to the garbagemen, despite her quickly pointing out he has signed her name for numerous papers.
    Homer: But this isn't like a loan application or a will. You signed away my dignity!
    • He then vows to stand up for "the little guy" against Ray Patterson's supposed tyranny ... while bullying his pet bird.
      Ray: Hey, leave the bird alone!
      Homer: Never! [Continues shaking bird cage]
  • Ignored Expert/Only Sane Man: Ray Patterson was smart enough to see that Homer has no clue what being sanitation commissioner is all about. First, during the debate:
    Ray: All right, fine. If you want an experienced public servant, vote for me. But if you want to believe a bunch of crazy promises about garbagemen cleaning your gutters and waxing your car, then by all means, vote for this sleazy lunatic.
    • Second, when he leaves office:
      Ray: Simpson, the American people have never tolerated incompetence in their public officials. You are going to crash and burn, my fat-headed friend.
      Homer: See, we're still friends. Come on, give us a cuddle.
      [Ray storms out.]
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Ray Patterson looks just like Steve Martin.
  • Irony: Homer gets his ass kicked by U2's security guards as the band performs "Pride (In the Name of Love)".note 
  • It's the Principle of the Thing: All the chaos Homer ends up causing is simply because he refuses to say he is sorry or even will accept someone else (that being Marge) apologizing on his behalf.
  • Jerkass: You can see why some consider season nine a turning point in Homer's characterization (at least, for the seasons with Mike Scully as head writer). He cuts off his family's garbage service over a petty argument and runs for sanitation commissioner rather than apologize. Once he gets elected, he renders the entire town uninhabitable in a matter of weeks. It's implied that he has been forging Marge's name on loan applications and wills, and sees no problem with that. It's also implied that he tampered with the brakes in Ray Patterson's car, putting him in serious danger. He also continuously makes Ray's life a living hell by tossing lies (bringing children to his gingerbread house) and belittling him at every opportunity. When Homer wins, he laughs it all off to a fuming Ray that they were all lies and that they can keep being friends.
  • Lead In: The episode opens with the creation and celebration of Love Day before moving on to Homer's conflict with the garbage department that drives the episode.
  • Lethally Stupid: Homer causes an ecological apocalypse because he is too stupid to think his campaign promises would be affordable, and the people of Springfield are as dumb for choosing Homer and his wishy-washy promises over someone they know was perfectly reliable.
  • Lets See You Do Better: Homer is quite convinced he can completely surpass Ray Patterson's sanitation over Springfield. Rather surprisingly, he provides exceptional service. Less surprisingly, it doesn't last very long, and things get worse from there.
  • Literal Metaphor:
    Homer: I came to fight City Hall. I want to shake things up, Patterson. Stir up some controversy. Rattle a few cages. [Shakes a nearby bird cage]
    Patterson: Hey, stop that!
    Homer: You'll never silence me! I'm the last angry man, Patterson, a crusader for the little guy! [Shakes it again]
    Patterson: Leave the bird alone!
    Homer: Never! [Shakes it again]
  • Logic Bomb: Costington's slogan is "Over a century without a slogan." Word of God said it took "a lot of wasted man-hours" to think it up.invoked
  • Long Speech Tea Time: Apparently, Bono's speech is long enough for the other U2 members to go to Moe's and back again.
  • Malicious Slander:
    Ray: You told people I lured children into my gingerbread house.
    Homer: Heheheheh. Yeah, that was just a lie.
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: Homer's stupidity and shortsightedness turns Springfield into such a polluted mess that there's no choice left but to move the whole town five miles away.
  • Not So Innocent Whistling: When Adam Clayton gets turned down on joining the Edge and Larry Mullen at Moe's, he calls them wankers before quickly turning away to adjust his guitar and whistle.
  • Oh, Crap!: Homer realizes he's in big trouble when the garbage collectors hear him call them "trash-eating stinkbags".
  • Oireland: Homer gets in backstage to the U2 concert by pretending to be the "Potatoe man", who had apparently been expected.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Homer really should have told Marge that he fought the garbage men because of how unprofessionally they acted. Otherwise she'd probably have written a letter complaining about that instead of forging Homer's apology. This is repeated with Ray Patterson, who is initially depicted as a Reasonable Authority Figure that Homer assumes is a bullying corporate. Rather than make any direct referral to the mistreatment he suffered from some of his staff, Homer starts childishly antagonising the bewildered and angry Patterson, who insults him back, starting the disastrous war.
  • Reality Ensues: Homer gets it twice over. He becomes sanitation commissioner via Landslide Election and proceeds to implement his crazy promises ... which drain his annual budget within a month. Then his sale of underground Springfield to other cities for their trash leads to it being so polluted it has to be moved five miles away, building by building.
  • Rule of Three: Homer vs. Ray's birdcage. See Literal Metaphor above.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • After Homer has created an apocalyptic chaos with the trash accumulation, the city of Springfield welcomes Ray Patterson back with open arms in the hope that he can solve the crisis. Patterson stands in front of the whole auditorium long enough to savor the people's desperation and tell them they're screwed, then promptly leaves.
    • It turns out that Springfield's protocol for an emergency as bad as the trash crisis that is affecting them at the climax is to move the whole town, buildings and all, several miles away rather than do something (and that is anything) else about it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The song "The Garbage Man" spoofs "The Candy Man" from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, and its end parade spoofs that of The Music Man (as does Homer snapping his fingers to change into a uniform). Also, Oscar the Grouch appears in one of the trash cans in said parade.
    • Homer's appearance on the big screen at the U2 concert spoofs Bill Gates' appearance at the 1997 Macworld Expo, in which Gates announced that Microsoft would be investing in the (then-)struggling Apple Inc.
    • Ray Patterson's end speech was inspired by an incident in which Redd Foxx was to perform in Las Vegas, but noticed that there were very few people present, prompting him to immediately leave; the band which played him on with the theme from Sanford and Son, after a moment's confusion, played him off with the theme again. This incident was also spoofed in "The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons" when Moe walks onstage at a bachelor auction, and without stopping, walks straight to the "rejects" section.
    • In the opening scene, a saleswoman suggest that the proposed new holiday should be something religious, saying, "We had great penetration last spring with Christmas 2!" Christmas 2 was a holiday (falling on March 25) created by B.Z. to cash in on the success of Patch's Puce Pops in Santa Claus: The Movie.
  • Skewed Priorities: The garbagemen ignore Homer's pleas to stop for his trash, though quickly reverse when he begins to insult them in response.
  • Somebody Else's Problem: When Moe and Homer are discussing what to do to make Homer's campaign attractive, they fall on the slogan "Can't someone else do it?" and Homer rides it all the way to victory. His promise: the garbagemen will do everything regarding taking out the garbage, even getting it out of the homes, and the townsfolk will be free to laze around. Eventually, Reality Ensues: the additional payment Homer gives the garbagemen so they will follow this order (as well as the extra-flashy uniforms and new equipment) uses up the annual budget within a single month.
  • Speaking Like Totally Teen: Used by Homer at the U2 concert:
    Bono: Why should they vote for you?
    Homer: That's a good question, Bono. 'Cause I'd be the most whack, tripped-out sanitation commissioner ever! Can you dig it?
  • Stating the Simple Solution:
    Lisa: Dad, is this [Homer's dispute with the garbage department] another one of those things that could be solved with a simple apology?
  • Take That!: To the gift/greeting card industry for creating new holidays purely to boost revenue. Love Day bears a marked resemblance to Sweetest Day, a Valentine's Day-like manufactured holiday created in Cleveland in 1922.
  • It's the Principle of the Thing: Homer makes clear to Lisa that he takes the idea of apologizing (even if it's insincere, and especially if someone else does it for him) to the garbagemen as an insult to his pride and he rides this all the way to an apocalyptic resolution.
  • Time for Plan B: Springfield's all-purpose contingency plan to move five miles away is enacted when Homer's methods to dispose of the garbage had Gone Horribly Wrong.
  • Trash of the Titans: This episode is the Trope Namer, though the show had used the trope many times before.
  • Unaccustomed as I Am to Public Speaking...
    Ray: [Happy sigh] Oh gosh. You know, I'm not much on speeches, but it's so gratifying to — [Growling] leave you wallowing in the mess you've made. You're screwed, thank you, bye.
    —>Moe: He's right. He ain't much on speeches.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: Once Homer believes he beat The Man and forced them to clean up his immense mess, he gloats about it for what we assume is all day long (thanks to him starting once it's morning and he sees they cleaned up and then a Time Skip to the evening and him still gloating in bed), to the point that Marge (who secretly sent an apology letter in his name and probably knows what will happen if she confesses to it) can't take it anymore and tells him she sent the letter just to make him shut up.
  • X Must Not Win: Shown to quite a detrimental level, since Homer's campaign is based largely on a spite war towards Patterson, he proves completely incompetent when he finally gets the job.

"Wankers."
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