Rio Irked by Simpsons Portrayal, Seeks Legal Action
Rio de Janeiro’s tourist board on Monday said it was mulling legal action against the producers of “The Simpsons” show for undermining a multimillion-dollar campaign to attract visitors.
In the episode “Blame it on Lisa,” Homer is robbed by street kids and kidnapped by an unlicensed taxi as the world-famous U.S. cartoon family goes to Rio to find a missing orphan Lisa has been sponsoring.
The family runs across rats and monkeys looking for the orphan. When they find him, he has grown rich working on a television show and pays for Homer’s release in gratitude for shoes Lisa had bought him to escape monkeys at the orphanage.
Riotur president Jose Eduardo Guinle requested a copy of the episode, which he had yet to see, and asked the board’s legal team to look into what action could be taken.
“He understands it is a satire,” Riotur spokesman Sergio Cavalcanti said. “What really hurt was the idea of the monkeys, the image that Rio de Janeiro was a jungle. … It’s a completely unreal image of the city.”
Rio, a city as well-known for sky high crime levels as it is for natural beauty, is set in a series of bays backed by jungle-covered mountains, but monkeys do not inhabit the area.
Makers of the award-winning satirical U.S. cartoon that appears on 20th Century Fox Television were not immediately available to comment on the Riotur statement.
Riotur said if the producers were concerned about Rio’s orphans, they should donate the revenue from the episode to help them.
Cavalcanti said the board invested $18 million in the last three years promoting the city, whose tourist industry has this year suffered from an outbreak of dengue, an affliction carried by mosquitoes. More than 220,000 U.S. citizens visited Rio in 2001, he said.