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Simpsons Blazing Guy VS Burning Man

November 18, 2014

Larry Harvey Simpsons

Welcome to “a desert steampunk Disneyland”!

Here’s the Simpson’s episode with the “trip” to “Blazing Guy” aka Burning Man that I wrote about on Sunday. UPDATE: The Vimeo I originally posted was removed, but you might try this or scroll down to watch the BM section with MUSIC.

“Help me desert weirdos!”

Since we don’t have cable TV, we debated going to a friends, and then a Burner posted a link that worked but was so slow to load that we got to watch the same scenes over and over allowing us to see some of the humorous details over and over…like Larry Harvey walking between Bart and The Man.

I joked in this post that the Simpsons, unlike Kim K, would “break the internet” –and it did: reports are that was down for three hours or more starting with the showing of the episode on the east coast.

Burners are having a social media field day with various memes and videos going around, because, overall, the episode was fun and funny and filled with inside jokes that many long-time Burners will get and characters like “Desert Arnez” who asks Homer if he used 3′ long rebar when staking down his tent or who offer Marge some tea.

“I’m not sure this campground is family friendly,” worries Marge.

“All camping is pointless,” replies Homer.


I do think the episode could have been a lot better. There were many missed opportunities to bring in Burning Man culture.

It’s too bad the Simpsons didn’t camp in Kidsville or do activities with the Black Rock Scouts or that the writers didn’t bring the 10 Principles to the public.

For example, what about gifting? “Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving,” wrote Larry Harvey in 2004. That could have been fun or at least to point out that Lisa moves from spectating to participating –she not only gifts her music but she also practices Participation: “Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic,” wrote Harvey (2004). “We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation”  and Immediacy: “Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture,” explained Harvey (2004).

The Burning Tuba Guy who is not accepted into a drum circle is against the first of the 10 Principles –that of Radical Inclusion. “Anyone may be a part of Burning Man,” writes Harvey on the Burning Man website. “We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.” Here’s the Burning Tuba Guy aka @tubatron of the Simpsons playing the flaming tuba at Burning Man with Matt Groening. CORRECTION: According to Tubatron aka David Silverman, Matt Groening has never been to Burning Man. Whoever posted this video got it wrong. But it’s still a cool vid of David Silverman who is a main Simpsons dude.

I get that they missed opportunities to do better because they had to spend half of the episode setting up how in the world The Simpsons would end up at Burning Man. This didn’t leave much time for more than a few shots of artcars.

Unfortunately the Simpsons episode misrepresents the Burning Man experience to an extent that I’m concerned that for the Birgins who get tickets after watching and who don’t read the Survival Guide or don’t take it seriously will be as seriously unprepared as the tourons from Europe who turned up in our camp who asked me where the trash was and helped themselves to the neighbors’ shower each day. And more.

I’m particularly disturbed by how the video reinforces the idea that ALL Burners are high–and that you are at risk of someone slipping drugs into your “tea” (of course “adulterated could be misconstrued) or that, while people do over consume drugs, it’s unlikely you would stumble over s syringe.

In some ways, the Simpsons at Burning Man represents a by-gone era of Burning Man, one where you could just decide to go at the last minute, it’s only a short drive to the desert, and once you get there, you just drive in (no wait at gate or will call or traffic coming in), find an open spot (like our Euro neighbors) and set up camp without worrying that you’re encroaching on someone’s theme camp. In “Blazing Guy,” someone is selected to throw a torch to light the effigy; that also happened in the past where someone lit the Man. And finally, Blazing Guy looks like it has a much smaller population that Black Rock City today.

Unlike the desert of “Blazing Guy,” the Black Rock Desert has NO cactus. You don’t see anything living there unless you count flies folks brought with them, or you use a microscope to see the fairy shrimp, or you count the random bird that soars over.

While I’ve never seen anyone put in a “human jail” at Burning Man, I bet they will be common in Black Rock City in 2015. In fact look for a Human Jail Theme Camp…or maybe two!

Another criticism is that the episode doesn’t due justice to the auditory experience of Burning Man. Music is a huge and important part of the experience. To rectify this,  Yehoshua Brill put the clip above together using music by

Dave Tipper
Random Rab
Beats Antique
The Polish Ambassador
Govinda Music
Kalya Scintilla
Mr. Liff
Ayla Nereo

While I definitely enjoyed the Simpsons Burning Man trip, this Simpsons parody and Hitler Plans His Burning Man camp still makes me laugh as does this Hitler and the Burning Man ticket lottery. But you probably need to be Burners to appreciate them and the Simpsons was accessible to Burners and non-Burners alike.

What did you think about the Simpsons Burning Man episode? Did it make you want to go?

PS Post #1553. Please Subscribe! I’ve been Burning 15x since 1992. So do it for that!


3 Comments leave one →
  1. David Silverman permalink
    November 18, 2014 3:01 pm

    The YouTube video has it wrong — Matt has never been to Burning Man. Whoever posted the vid labeled me (@tubatron) as Matt. The sax player is Randall Thompson & the trumpeter is Rob Carpenter of The Burning Band.

  2. November 18, 2014 3:12 pm

    Thanks David for clearing this up! I updated the post to reflect this info. (PS My 11 year old who has been to BM 6x is learning trombone. Hoping he will one day be able to make it burn as well as you do!)

  3. David Silverman permalink
    November 18, 2014 4:01 pm

    No problem, happy to do so!

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