The Simpsons has had an immeasurable impact on our culture, but, not content to leave it at that, there are people out there eager to apply science to its influence in order to better understand it. Take, for example, a video from Tom Scott that looks to figure out exactly how much our dumb childhood variations of “Jingle Bells” were informed by that Simpsons episode where Robert Goulet stops by Bart’s tree house to perform.
Scott’s idea was to see how many of our impressionable young minds latched onto the folk holiday parody where, as Goulet sings it, “Jingle Bells” includes a verse that goes, “Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg/Batmobile lost its wheel, Joker got away.” Scott remembers how his childhood version ended with “Batman smells, Robin flew away” and, knowing that other variations existed for decades prior to the 1993 Simpsons episode, tried to figure out how much of an impact cartoon Goulet has had on us all.
He collected data from 64, 182 people by providing a survey asking for which version respondents sang when they were kids (along with their country). Scott shows off the results by recruiting a musician to play the different parodies he received, highlighting the most popular regional variations. Though there are significant numbers of other versions, the most prevalent is The Simpsons’ “laid an egg” in the United States and the non-Simpsonsfied “flew away” in the United Kingdom, though birth dates show that British ‘90s kids definitely used the American TV version. In short, as you might have guessed, The Simpsons had a huge influence on what children annoyed their parents with during the holidays.
For a complete look at Scott’s process and findings, check out the entire video. Next, let’s hope he gets to work seeing how many kids learned Planet Of The Apes’ twist ending from Troy McClure before they’d even heard of the original movie.
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