The Simpsons episode “Stark Raving Dad” was a critically lauded, memorable fan-favorite of the series. In light of recent events, future evaluation of the episode will produce quite a different viewpoint.
Michael Jackson originally voiced a character for the episode, which aired on September 19, 1991. His role was uncredited, with his actual involvement was finally confirmed years later. Now, following the allegations of sexual assault by Jackson relayed in the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, Simpsons producers have decided to pull the episode from rotation, reports Variety.
James L. Brooks told The Wall Street Journal that fellow executive producers Matt Groening and Al Jean agreed to go ahead with the decision.
“It feels clearly the only choice to make. The guys I work with — where we spend our lives arguing over jokes — were of one mind on this.”
Jean released a statement to Variety.
“I agree with Jim, nothing else to add,” he said.
The episode featured Jackson voicing the character Leon Kompowsky, who encounters Homer Simpson in a mental institution. Leon is a large white man who claims to be Michael Jackson. Homer brings the man home to his family where Leon helps Bart Simpson celebrate his sister’s birthday by singing one of the show’s most iconic songs, “Happy Birthday Lisa.” Jackson didn’t do any of the singing on the episode. Kipp Lennon mimicked Jackson’s voice on all of the songs instead.
Brooks remarked that it was a treasured episode that was comprised of many great memories, that for all intents and purposes, no longer remain.
He said it would take time for the show to be removed completely from syndication, as well as FXX’s Simpsons World on-demand service, and future reissues of the show’s DVD sets.
“I’m against book burning of any kind. But this is our book, and we’re allowed to take out a chapter,” he said to The Wall Street Journal.
The decision comes on the heels of worldwide backlash in the aftermath of the documentary’s release. This includes radio stations across the globe deciding to stop playing Jackson’s music.
According to The New York Times, a radio network in Quebec pulled Jackson’s music from almost two dozen stations, according to The Canadian Press. In Britain, the BBC was forced to deny reports that the singer’s music had been “quietly dropped” from one of its stations.
Jackson’s songs were almost completely removed from airwaves in New Zealand upon the announcement that the country’s two largest radio networks would no longer play his music.