The episode “Duffless” (Duff being the choice beer of Homer Simpson) touches upon Homer’s quest to remain free from alcohol for 30 days. It was originally aired in 1993 as the sixteenth episode of forth season (which some simpsons fans argue is the best), it contains the story of Homer Simpson who takes a trip around the legendary Duff Brewery.
Although a subject often touched upon in the Simpsons and their writers, is Homer really an alcoholic?
Within the brewery we see some hilarious scenes of Richard Nixon in a post-war commercial saying he “too would like to express his fondness for that particular beer” with Homer sneering “The man never drank a duff in his life!”. Barney and Homer both get drunk off the free booze on offer but unfortunately Homer finds himself a foul of police sting operation just outside the brewery. Homer has his license revoked and is sentenced to attend AA meetings.
Homer here onwards begins the quest to remain alcohol free for 30 days. He struggles initially and even kicked out of reverend Lovejoy’s AA meetings for eating the dirt at underneath the stand of a baseball match (no doubt the fans spilled beer here). Despite his set backs and temptation all around him (one scene sees hundreds of bottles of beers parachuted near him) he remains alcohol free.
A touching moment of Homer’s dry month is that he loses weight and saves money. When Marge points out how much money he saves he quickly grabs the money and heads down to Moe’s Tavern. In the final moments of the episode Homer surveys the scene of the bar. He sees the others stuck in their misery drinking alcohol, he rejects alcohol and decides to go spend some quality time with his wife. In the end of the episode Homer rejects the temptation to drink and rides off into the sunset with his wife’s arms around him.
Homer rejects alcohol and his relationship with his wife begins to flourish.
In a later episode Homer declares “To Alcohol! The cause of and solution to all life’s problems”. A humorous but worrying decree, which is probably very accurate for many people.
Homer’s character illustrates very well the concept of Cruel Optimism, which is the philosophical concept that what is often the object of our desire is often the thing that prohibits us from flourishing. A simple example is “I use because I am unhappy, but I am unhappy because I use”. It can seem like a catch 22 situation.
Where can we obtain this happiness from?
Many addicts experience this as addiction progresses, there is no relief from the stress they experience in life except but to use, however this in turn prohibits them from achieving the things they want to achieve in their life – it may very well set them back remarkably (jails, institutions….) . One may very well explore the possibility of other hedonistic pursuits,sex, other drugs, prescription medicines, cannabis…etc to give themselves a spark or relief from stress but very seldom do these result in any other resolve.
This outlook may seem exceedingly bleak, it almost seems completely an un-winnable situation, to which one can only lay down all arms and admit defeat?
The things which you desire the most will destroy you?
Alas, it is not so.
For centuries, philosophers have explored the issue of the meaning of existence, when you are without meaning you lose purpose. When a person is without purpose they may feel compelled to entertain themselves in hedonistic pursuits but unfortunately there is no prevail from acting this way. It may provide temporary relief from the agony of such a meaningless position but it does not give the many a sense of purpose. This sense of purpose must come from something else. A higher sense of purpose – creativity or adherence to the contribution to something more meaningful in the world.
All screenshots used in this blog remain the property of their rightful owners and creators and used under “fair-use”.