19th Century and Onwards, TV and Movies

Whacking Day – who knew?

My husband and I have been watching a Ken Burns documentary: The Dust Bowl, about the severe drought and dust storms on the southern American Plains in the ’30s.

One effect of the drought is that local wildlife started to starve, and began moving farther afield to look for food. Thousands of jackrabbits, hungry and unchecked by predators (as farmers had shot all the coyotes), swarmed the Plains and “would eat anything green they found,” according to one person who lived through it.

The solution? “Rabbit drives,” where people would round up the rabbits and essentially beat them to death.

It sounds horrible, and it was, but I have to be honest – when the documentary got to that point, I immediately thought of Whacking Day.

Yes, that Whacking Day. From the Simpsons. Which, while not inspired by the rabbit drives, was drawn from actual rattlesnake round-ups held in the rural Midwest and Southern US.

I don’t know whether to be impressed at how often the Simpsons manages to make great episodes out of somewhat obscure historical events, or bemused at how long Simpsons episodes stick in my subconscious.

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