When A Simpsons Episode Almost Changed What Australia Called Their Currency
The 1995 Simpsons episode "Bart vs. Australia" nearly started an international incident, but more importantly, it was almost responsible for renaming the Australian dollar the "dollarydoo." Why would a cartoon make such an impact on another culture? And why would Australians want their dollarydoos? To answer that requires a little knowledge about the country and its currency.
The Australian Dollar
In 1966, the global shift toward decimalization (the system under which 100 cents equals one dollar) inspired the land down under to replace the Australian pound with the Australian dollar. Three years before, the Australian government proposed naming their new currency the "royal," but widespread outcry forced them to withdraw with a proverbial "Okay, okay, it was just a suggestion."
Australia has good reason to be serious about their currency, and it doesn't have anything to do with its name. The Australian dollar is one of the most advanced in the world when it comes to counterfeit protection. The polymer banknotes are also water resistant and therefore cleaner than the cotton fiber notes used in backwater countries like the United States, and each denomination is differently textured so the visually impaired can tell them apart. Canada, Vietnam, and the U.K. have all since adopted properties of Australia's groundbreaking currency.
Bart Vs. Australia
On February 19, 1995, "Bart Vs. Australia" premiered. In the episode, Bart makes a collect call to Australia to prove that his sister Lisa is wrong about the Coriolis effect, i.e. why objects moving in a circular direction tend to move to the right in the northern hemisphere and the left in the southern hemisphere. After failing to pay the bill while insulting the poor family left holding the $900 (or "dollarydoo," as they call it in the episode) bag, Bart is tasked with traveling to Australia to receive punishment via a swift kick in the buns by a giant boot.
The Simpsons staff received more than 100 complaints from Aussies, articles peppered Australian newspapers about the indignity of the Simpson family trip to the Outback, and the episode was condemned by Australian Parliament. The episode skewers Australian culture pretty harshly—there are Mad Max jokes, koalas, and an incredibly surreal Crocodile Dundee reference—but the country also has laws regulating what time a person can vacuum and how many potatoes they can sell, deliver, or purchase, so living in Australia requires a healthy sense of humor.
One Australian who certainly seems to possess one is Thomas Probst, who started a Change.org petition in 2015 to rename the Australian dollar the "dollarydoo." That year, the Australian dollar was trending downward, trading at just 0.726 U.S. dollars, and Probst hoped that rebranding the currency would increase interest in it and boost the economy. "Millions of people around the world [would] want to get their hands on some Australian currency due to the real-life Simpsons reference," he explained. Unfortunately, the petition closed with only 69,440 supporters, less than 10% of the country's population.
Tags: money | Recent History | television
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