Ep.39: The Day Earth Stood Stupid (Notes)

  • Nibbler’s history as Earth protector’s despite his lowly status as a pet: appearances can be deceiving but it is also part of Futurama’s long-standing commitment to satirizing the normal by elevating the unexpected and inverting what “cute” and “fierce” means semiotically.
  • The Nibblonians have been around since before the start of the universe (by 17 years) and know the meaning to life; their home planet (“Eternium”) is in the exact center of the universe. Their language, meanwhile, appears to be very complex and takes a long time to pronounce just a small part of a single word.
  • Bender: “Let’s all join the Reform Party!” Uttered after the brains make Earth stupid, this is actually one of Futurama’s more radical sentiments as it shows at least some understanding of the absurdity of reform in the political process.
  • The Brain Spawn: they emerged with the rest of the universe in the Big Bang. If we ignore the ontological questions which the Nibblonians elicit, then the Brain Spawn seems to be an allegory for anti-intellectualism. The Nibblonians represent knowledge and its production whereas the Brain Spawn represents the destruction and de-legitimation of knowledge.
  • Thinking damages the Brain Spawn causing them to feel pain.
  • The Big Brain Spawn is able to transport himself and anyone connected to him and the books; this suggests that the words are able to fuse into a powerful illusion fueled by neurological processes. Semiotically, this raises a bunch of questions concerning interpretation.
  • Space and how it’s used: when the Big Brain leaves Earth, no one except Fry remembers their attack. Suggests unique ontological properties, an aura which directly affects the neurology of other life-forms.
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