KARL: Oh, can I get your autograph, Mr. Simpson, sir?Apparently this episode -- originally aired in February 1998, several years before I started this project -- captured the attention of media studies scholars. SIMILE (Studies in Media & Information Literacy Education), a University of Toronto Press journal, published the esssay "Homer Simpson explains our postmodern identity crisis, whether we like it or not: Media literacy after 'The Simpsons'" in a 2001 issue.
HOMER: Sure, what's your name?
KARL: Homer, we've worked together for ten years.
KARL: It's Karl.
HOMER (signs the paper and slides it over)
KARL: Homer, this is MY name... I wanted yours.
HOMER: Take it or leave it... (glances down at the paper) ... Karl.
The autograph sequence is a quick mention in the essay's discussion of Homer's identity crisis: Watching Police Cops, he (a fictional character himself) identifies with the heroics of the television character who shares his name. Brief fame quickly dissolves when the show's creators turn "Homer Simpson" into a dundering oaf and a laughingstock to both cops on the show and members of Homer's "real-life" community. Distressed at the turn of events, and no longer wishing to see himself (or be seen) in the character, he (in a truly meta moment) tells a crowd, "Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you gentleman, but you seem to have me confused with a character in a fictional show."
The connection here? Dan Castellaneta, the real person who voices the fictional Homer Simpson, signed my signature—which is about as valuable as Homer's is to Karl—for this project.