The Simpsons Against the Liberals page told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that they are most popular among 25-34 year olds. This demographic maintains an almost-religious devotion to the show.
From the 90s and into the late 2000s, Channel 10 would constantly rerun classic Simpsons, giving millennials a particular nostalgia and familiarity with the show.
“Back then, there were only a couple of TV channels,” the Simpsons Against the Liberals page said.
“The show has a much bigger cultural impact in Australia than it does in America, where it is from, as Americans had so many more TV channels to choose from.”
Brendan Dando, the Australian host of the world’s most-listened to Simpsons podcast Four Finger Discount said, “sitting in front of the TV at 6pm weeknights was a ritual for any Simpsons fan in the 90s.”
“Australia has one of the world’s most dedicated Simpsons fan communities,” says Dando, “this love of the show has carried over into how we all express ourselves online.”
Mark Cincotta, the face of the 100,000-member-strong Simpsons fan group Compuglobalhypermeganet Australia and New Zealand, also makes memes using images from the show.
“I remember becoming obsessed with it as a kid, watching it on TV whenever I could, and arguing with my Dad because we only had one TV,” he said. “I was always known for Simpsons quotes, I just remember thinking it was the best show and I watched it over and over for years.”
The 25-34 age group dominates Facebook, which is widely used in Australian politics. This demographic has also grown up with the internet, and according to a 2016 study from Middlesex University, they are the largest and most experienced users of social media.
Simpsons Against the Libs was established the day after the 2014 Federal Budget.
“That budget was awful, and the page was made to make fun of the budget,” said Simpsons Against the Libs.
The page has become a prominent player in the Australian satirical space, even getting into an 11-hour comment war with Liberal MP Andrew Laming in 2016.
“What we love about the Simpsons against the Liberals is that it truly is a community – people get involved, they submit memes, encourage people to enroll to vote, our marriage equality campaign, fundraising, and so on.”
“We can thank Tony Abbott for this page.”
Simpsons memes have since been seen into official Liberal campaign materials. Just last week, the Young Liberal and Labor pages posted memes that used the same Simpsons joke format.
on tuesday, shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers compared the Prime Minister to the show’s main character. “Scott Morrison saying he’s not focused on the politics is like Homer Simpson saying he is not focused on the doughnuts.”
Dr Ariadna Matamoros Fernandez, a lecturer of digital media at QUT, says memes allow political parties to engage audiences that are difficult to reach through mainstream channels, and that the Simpsons is often used because of its broad appeal and recognizable style. “Even if you weren’t born at the peak of the show, you still know the characters and what they mean.”
An examination of the official federal Liberal pages shows the Coalition started publishing Simpsons memes this year. The Coalition campaign headquarters told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that they use simpsons formats simply because the show is popular.
“We create content for specific audiences, understanding that certain items appeal to different demographics,” they said, “The Simpsons is a show that has been popular for many years, therefore the content is applicable to a wider audience.”
Simpsons Against the Liberals believe they are at least partially responsible for the rise in political Simpsons content.
“We’ve noticed the Liberals have learned a thing or two from us and are using Simpsons memes more and more,” said Simpsons Against the Liberals. “But we did it first, and better!”
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