It’s a storyline with a happier ending than its real-life counterpart, but the parallels between The Simpson’s latest episode and the arrest of a Russian YouTuber currently in court for playing Pokémon GO in an Orthodox Church are clear.
The episode, titled Looking for Mr Goodbart, features Homer Simpson getting addicted to the new fictional game, Peekimon Get, and playing it, among other places, in a church during a sermon. The episode was aired on Fox on 30 April, two days after the final court hearing for Ruslan Sokolovksy who is being accused of inciting religious hatred after having played the game in an Orthodox Church in Yekaterinburg in September 2016. The prosecutor has called for a 3.5 year prison term for Sokolovsky.
Later on, one of Homer’s gaming companions, the character Jeff Albertson, commonly known as the Comic Book Guy, comments that “Pekkimon Get is — or at least was — bigger than Jesus,” referencing Pokémon GO’s decreasing popularity.
The Russian Orthodox church have responded to the episode, by calling to raise the age restriction for popular animated show, TASS reported today. Since then, a representative of the TV channel 2x2, which broadcasts The Simpsons in Russia, has confirmed to RBC that the episode will not be shown in Russia.
The court will announce their verdict for Sokolovsky on 11 May. Sokolovsky’s final testimony, in which he said, “I might be an idiot but I’m not an extremist”, was widely circulated in the Russian media at the end of April.