Homer and the Hose – Jacob Toner

Monday 25 January 2021

In his article “Crazy Machines in the Garden of Forking Paths” Gunning uses the example of the Lumiere film “L’Arroseur Arrosé” to discuss the idea of the gag. In the film a boy steps on a hose, causing a gardener to look down the nozzle to investigate before having the boy step off the hose and spray him with water. This establishes Gunning’s idea of the structure of a gag being a “rascal” preparing an action  and a “victim” facing consequences whilst being linked together by some apparatus performing a action. The clip this idea and example reminded me of was the ending of a Simpsons episode in which Bart performs a very similar prank on Homer. Turning the water on and off as Homer repeatedly attempts to discover the source of the issue with various parts of his face. This clip has several links to Gunning’s idea. First of all the joke is a direct repetition of the original film almost 100 years later, showing how the structure of the gag is simple enough that it is still applicable far after the original conception. The situating of the gag at the end of the episode also confirms the idea that gags are separate from narrative, the narrative of the episode has been concluded and the creators of the episode were still able to insert a gag despite a lack of narrative. One way in which this clip differs from Gunning’s idea is in the immediate repetition of the gag, whilst in his article Gunning states that once the apparatus has performed its action it is often destroyed in its potential as the preparation has produced its consequence. In this instance a second layer is added to the gag through Homer’s incompetence which allows for a repetition of the gag.



Clip – https://youtu.be/V16uvrjFPh0


Tom Gunning, “Crazy Machines in the Garden of Forking Paths,” Classical Hollywood Comedy, ed. Karnick and Jenkins (Los Angeles: AFI/Routledge, 1995), 87-105



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