Fact check: ‘The Simpsons’ image of Astroworld is digital art, not part of an episode – USA TODAY

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The claim: “The Simpsons” episode from three years ago referenced Astroworld

Travis Scott’s performance at his Astroworld Festival left 10 dead and hundreds injured after a sudden crowd surge.

While a criminal investigation into the surge is underway, social media users are claiming the event was referenced in a long-time television show three years ago.

“Why is nobody talking about this, The Simpson’s knew,” reads the text overlaid on an image resembling parts of the Astroworld Festival and featuring characters from the popular television show “The Simpsons.” The image, posted on Facebook Nov. 9, was shared almost 400 times within three days.

The caption claims the image, which depicts Lisa and Homer Simpson walking through a giant gold head arch similar to Scott’s face, was featured on the show in 2018.

The music festival’s deadly outcome has led to the spread of a series of false claims and misinformation on several social media platforms. And this is just the latest example, as it implies the show predicted the festival and its outcome years before it happened, telling readers, “Open your eyes and really know how this is all being played out.”

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However, the image in the post was created by a graphic designer in New Zealand. It’s not part of an actual episode from “The Simpsons.” 

USA TODAY reached out to the user who posted the claim for comment.

Image is digital fan art

Claims that “The Simpsons” has predicted actual events are not new.

It has been credited with predicting Super Bowl outcomes, the Jan. 6 riot, Donald Trump’s presidency and even Vice President Kamala Harris’ Inauguration Day outfit

However, much like those claims, the assertion that the series referenced the Astroworld Festival in one of its episodes years before it happened is wrong. 

The image shared on social media was actually designed in 2018 by Liam Ayson, a junior designer in New Zealand. 

Fact check: False claim that ‘hundreds’ died in the Astroworld Festival tragedy

Ayson posted the image, which has received over 1,500 likes, to his Instagram page on Aug. 4, 2018. Ayson wrote in the caption that the illustration, which he created using Procreate, was his “Simpsons versions of (Travis Scott’s) #astroworld cover.”

Ayson told USA TODAY that he had just bought an iPad at the time and wanted to create digital artwork but didn’t know what to start with.

“Astroworld just came out and I wanted to make a Simpsons meets Astroworld version of it,” he said in an email. 

Scott’s “Astroworld” album was released on Aug. 3, 2018, according to news reports from the time. In a tweet announcing its release in July 2018, Scott posted the image that ended up being the album’s cover, and that ultimately served as Ayson’s inspiration.

The album cover shows an apparent family walking into Scott’s gold head, just as Lisa and Homer Simpson are depicted in Ayson’s illustration. Ayson also adapted other elements from the original cover to match the cartoon’s style, including the man raking in the background, the rocket, the car and the two  figures depicted in the foreground.

Ayson said he’s received many messages on social media from users asking him how he “predicted” the Astroworld Festival, which he said, “is just ridiculous.”

“I really don’t like that it’s been circulating around the Internet for this reason,” Ayson said. “People should look around at who is actually responsible and not if ‘The Simpsons’ predicted it.”

Image refers to album, not Astroworld Festival

When one social media user commented on Ayson’s Instagram post asking what made him “draw in 2018 the exact event in 2021,” Ayson clarified his illustration was based on the album cover which had just come out, not the Astroworld Festival like some social media users are claiming now.

The timeline for the social media claim doesn’t add up, either: The festival hadn’t even been announced at the time that the album was released and Ayson created his image.

Scott’s “Astroworld” music album came out Aug. 3, 2018, the day before Ayson posted his illustration of the cover image. Scott announced the first Astroworld Festival on Twitter on Aug. 10.

The 2018 performance became the inauguration of the yearly festival, which was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The festival was created to “bring some well-deserved recognition to Travis’ hometown of Houston, the place that has made him both the man and creative artist he is today,” Scott’s Manager, David Stromberg, told Billboard in 2018.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that an episode from “The Simpsons” three years ago referenced Astroworld. The image was not part of the television show. It was a 2018 image created digitally by a Travis Scott fan, who used the cover of Scott’s music album “Astroworld” as inspiration. The image is not related to or based on the Astroworld Festival.

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