The Simpsons has been involved in two crossovers recently, one with Futurama (which is an interesting manifestation of artistic incest or narcissism for Matt Groening, but which he veils with insistently ironic self-awareness) and Family Guy. In both episodes, the creators make it a point to anticipate all criticism of laziness or profit on their part and build all audience objections into the show (indeed, they may even be its foundation), making us feel weirdly complicit in its creation. If we still have a problem with it then, we have a problem with ourselves, and that’s not going to happen, so the show gets a pass. Or does it? And from what? Why must everything be dripping with this self-reference? Why can’t these shows combine DNA and bring forth new life without ridicule? It’s not indolence or capitalistic greed (necessarily), it’s creative possibility. It’s art evolving. This synthesis isn’t something that should be mocked by its own creators in advance of anticipated mockery from the audience. It should be encouraged and celebrated. Sure, the results may not always be “good,” but they will be different, full of life. And they’ll be explicit efforts that represent the creative process as a fundamentally derivative one. All life springs from previous life, so just go for it. Bring whatever ingredients you want together and see what comes out. If it doesn’t fit, try again. Life is nothing if not experimental.