What influenced The Simpsons – Marge vs. The Monorail?

We’re happy to welcome our first guest post from culture afficianado and all-around great guy Garrett Brooks.  Today Garrett will cover The Simpsons – Marge vs. The Monorail.

The Simpsons has been on the air in one form or another for longer than I have been a person. Since premiering as its own show on December 17, 1989 (before that it was a short on “The Tracey Ullman Show”), the show has run for twenty four seasons producing 530 episodes, the most of any primetime, scripted television series (Sorry, Gunsmoke). Besides being known for it’s longevity, catchphrases and four-fingered yellow people, The Simpsons is a wealth references to popular culture, obscure films and to it’s own history.

So let’s start this journey through Springfield with one of the most beloved episodes the show has ever produced, “Marge vs The Monorail” written by Conan O’Brien. As a Inluenced.it rule, we are only going over references to other works that you can experience. So goodbye jokes about crooked Alabama politics and The 1964 World’s Fair.Continue reading “What influenced The Simpsons – Marge vs. The Monorail?”

Premises Addendum

When we started a week ago we assumed there would be about a post a week, tackling a new work of culture or an artist each time. We’d research it, work through their influences and who they influenced, publish it, and move on to the next artist. Of course we knew there would be ongoing revisions to any given artist page (need a better name for these. Nodes?) but plowing through the interviews, citations, photos and videos takes a long time, and we’re not yet sure how to turn the data into something visualized, how to lay out the text, incorporate media, etc. This is going to be hard, and it started quickly to feel overwhelming, and kinda stressful, and not fun.

Then we were listening to this episode of the Scriptnotes podcast (by screenwriters for screenwriters) and Continue reading “Premises Addendum”

Future topic guide – Vol. 1

Always fun to see what Google thinks you are going to search for.  We just typed “what influenced” and autofill kicked in from there.  We guess the public is telling us what we should cover with the blog:

google-captureAlso should note that we did this same search this morning and Elvis Presley was the first entry, but for some reason by this evening he is no longer of interest, and Shakespeare has snuck in.  Nice job, Bill.

Let’s try who…Continue reading “Future topic guide – Vol. 1”

What influenced Bruce Springsteen?

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Let’s start with Bruce Springsteen, for a few reasons.  First: it was my first concert ever, in 1985, 10th row at Giants Stadium, and I was 9 years old.  More on that in a future post but let’s just say it was fucking awesome.  Second: he’s very well-documented, has been interviewed a thousand times, and openly discusses the wealth of influences from which he draws.  Third: he himself has influenced a generation of artists.

Two potential challenges we saw digging into this.  First: would the citations be easy to pull?  Is the data of influence relationships easily accessed?  Second: would there be anything to support our hypothesis of cross-medium referencing?  Would film or literature be as referenced in interviews and scholarly analysis as the musical connections are?

Well, right off the bat we kind of lucked out, because with a little searching we found the transcript and video clips from Bruce’s 2012 SXSW Keynote speech, where he explicitly lays out, in the most heartfelt and poetic terms, his personal history of influence.  It’s a stunner that is well-worth watching in its entirety.Continue reading “What influenced Bruce Springsteen?”

Dennis Farina: 1944-2013

Our hearts go out to Dennis Farina’s family today.  He’s a cultural icon, having walked this fine line between perfectly-plausible gangster and perfectly-plausible cop for so many years.  We didn’t know that much about him until the outpouring of retrospectives today, and Vulture’s take was most striking, from the influenced.it perspective.   Matt Zoller Seitz put together this remarkable mini-documentary about Crime Story, a show that was honestly not on our radar, but was an important predecessor to The Sopranos, The Wire, and the now well-established model of complex season-long story arcs.

Jump to 6:05 for the discussion of Crime Story’s predecessors and followers.

About The Project

2020 addendum:

We wrote the manifesto for Influenced.It over seven years ago. Looking back on it now, the references are a little out of date, and I need an editor, but the premise still holds. When we wrote this, society was six years into adapting itself to the iPhone. Now seven years later, the convergence of consumption patterns on phones – music, TV, movies, books, and culture writ large – has further coalesced. The amount of content options an individual has to navigate has multiplied by orders of magnitude. And the flow of cultural currents across mediums, cultures, time and geography has only accelerated. Influence remains absent as a signal with which to discover new works and find the next thing you’ll love. We’re excited to reboot this effort, and appreciate you spending your time with us on this journey.

2013 Post:

influenced.it is mapping the currents of culture.  We’ve always wanted to know more about what goes into creating the things we watch, read, listen to, and love.  There are a lot of sites that talk about influence, but we feel like we couldn’t find the connections, commonalities, or context we were looking for.  To put it succinctly, we’re obsessed with this chalkboard from The School of Rock, and wish it was a website, and that it mapped EVERYTHING THAT WAS EVER CREATED.


So we’re reaching out to artists, critics, scholars and fans and asking the simple-but-complex question: What Influenced It?  We don’t quite know what we’re going to get, but we hope to start building a map of the all the connections we gather between art and artists across mediums.  It’s all pretty experimental right now, but we have a few founding premises:Continue reading “About The Project”