The Joy of Sect
Shooting paintballs is not an artform
couch gag: The family are tiny, and help each other to sit on the couch. Santa’s Little Helper comes along and takes Homer
Director: Steven Dean Moore
Synopsis: Homer is sucked into a cult and brings the family along with him. Although the cult wears down Homer and the kids, Marge escapes and tries to de-program the others.
Discussion: This episode is a parody of cults in general, with a twist at the end that media (Fox in particular) is the real brainwasher of society.
Homer and Bart come across the cult at an airport, which are infamous for two things: Selling Michael Crichton and Stephen King books, and where different religions are represented in order to spread the word about whichever idol they favour. In this case, Homer is persuaded by the Movementarians, who promise that their Leader is buuilding a spaceship to take them to the blissful planet of Blisstonia. Seems fair enough- who wouldn’t give their life savings and deeds to the house in order for eternal bliss? Once they spend 100,000 years toiling, of course.
In response to the Leader’s tax-free status, Mr Burns tries to form his own new religion. This section, while funny, doesn’t really fit. Maybe it was just inserted to lengthen the episode? Perhaps the idea could be expanded into its own episode as a way for Mr Burns to not pay taxes? In any case, it doesn’t really fit here.
It’s nice to see the Simpsons out of their home and out of their minds. Most of the townspeople are under the spell of the Leader, bringing different depths to each character. Good ol’ Ned Flanders is still devoted to his own God and even assists the Simpsons in coming back from the Movementarians.
It’s a good episode, despite the weirdness of Mr Burns’ attempt at becoming god of his own religion. The Movementarians are an amalgamation of different cults, taking the weirdest parts of each and sticking them together with an awkward name. When the Leader is finally revealed as a fraud, the townspeople’s minds are freed from their illusion.