The long-running FOX series The Simpsons gets away with plenty, partly due to the innocuous nature of animated fare.
The show apparently went too far when it labeled a beloved heavy metal act as “death metal.”
The most recent Simpsons episode used its chalkboard gag feature to apologize to veteran rockers Judas Priest for the slam. The joke apparently riled up the music industry as well as elements from the band’s fan base.
I don’t care if you want to have fun at metal’s expense,” said Stereogum’s Michael Nelson, “but if you brazenly mix up black metal and death metal – and the essence of the joke hinges on getting that reference right – well, that’s just lazy writing and it deserves to be called out and mocked relentlessly. But that’s totally pardonable compared to calling Judas Priest a death metal band….”
The original slur came in a storyline where Homer starts illegally downloading music, leading to an anti-piracy investigation from the FBI and an escape to immunity in a Swedish consulate. The FBI counter by hiring the “death metal” Judas Priest to blast a piracy-themed rework of their track Breaking the Law, with the words changed to “Respecting the law: copyright law!