The “Simpsons” box scandal threatens to overshadow our troubles in Iraq. For the three people who aren’t aware yet, the packaging for the sixth season’s digital videodisc collection is a giant, molded Homer head with the discs and assorted junk crammed inside. It’s very nice and awfully irritating — it doesn’t stand up on its own, for one thing, unlike the boxes for seasons one through five — and is causing a nationwide ruckus.
Not in the mainstream media, of course. No, for this kind of esoteric inanity you have to read through the embittered reviews clogging Internet message boards.
I’m not making fun; I agree with the complaints. Packaging such as this should be voluntary, saved for those who truly enjoy exploring the boundaries of creative packaging and think it enhances their DVD-watching experience. I just want the bloody things to line up on a shelf some day and have some semblance of organization.
I’m obviously not alone. Aside from the message boards, there’s evidence of this inside Homer’s head: an offer from 20th Century Fox to replace the head with a traditional box for $2.95 in shipping and handling. The slip of paper leads you to a phone number (800-223-2369) that leads you to a Web site (Simpsonsbox.com) that allows you to print out a piece of paper that you can mail in to get alternate packaging. And it’ll only take four to six weeks for delivery.
“For all those who fear change,” the slip of paper says. “For all those anal-retentive nerds who like their DVD boxes to line up ... just call ... for a very derivative, old-style, just-like-before box with almost nothing new or creative to annoy or terrify you! Enjoy!” The phone number gives a similar recorded Homeresque rant before an operator comes on.
This is all funny, but one suspects there’s a little edge to the comedy. It’s odd (and hardly cheap) when a slip of paper, toll-free phone number and Web site are set up even before a box set ships just to offer redundant packaging. This may easily be costing the company twice what the usual packaging would, although the retail cost is no more than those of previous seasons.
There’s probably a very interesting story behind all this. It may involve a firing.