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Thursday, September 24, 2015

South Park: Stunning and Brave

Yes, I'm reviewing an episode of South Park. What has my life come to?

South Park has been on the air, (nearly) without hyperbole, simply forever. I remember it being  on TV when I was young, and when the movie Bigger, Longer, and Un-Cut came out I thought the show had ended. That's just the way these things work, right? You get a good run, you come back due to fan demand, you make a movie. But South Park kept on going. And going. 

I'd also be remiss if I didn't recommend playing South Park: The Stick of Truth. Excellent game.

So, with a feat few shows have pulled off (and fewer have remained consistently funny – looking at you, Simpsons), South Park enters its 19th season with “Stunning and Brave.” This episode is going to be related thematically to episodes done by a few other animated series, namely Powerpuff Girls and My Little Pony. The cold open for this episode is perfect, introducing the new character PC Principal -- a muscled-up frat bro quoting directly from a Social Justice handbook -- calling the citizens of South Park out for previous story-lines, and giving not only Butters but Garrison detention for questioning his narrative. 

The crux of the episode revolves around Kyle (I think. I always get Stan and Kyle mixed up) and his dad being called into PC Principal's office for saying he didn't think Caitlyn Jenner was a hero. When Erin wrote about that particular topic, she asked for my input. It was four succinct words: “Not another goddamned Kardashian.” I agree with Kyle in that I'm happy that she's more comfortable in her own skin, but I don't consider her a hero, nor “stunning and brave” like the characters on the show deadpan whenever her name is mentioned. Especially entertaining learning that her personal views are quite the opposite of most people praising her. Oh, and the manslaughter thing.

Three scenes in particular stand out to me. In the first, Randy Marsh, after being conscripted into the PC Bros, is hung over at the kitchen table parroting lines fed to him in almost a cult-like manner. The second has PC Principal physically assaulting Cartman while screaming at him about the verbal violence faced by minorities. And finally, the scene where the PC Bros with Randy “check Kyle's privilege” by waking him in the middle of the night with noisemakers and filling his room with pigs covered in the word “biggit.” The first scene mirrors the cult mentality that a lot of people deep into the Social Justice movement often display, and the second two are analogous activists that attack their own best allies like Bernie Sanders and the Black Lives movement or Stephen Amell (for daring to suggest that maybe stereotyping people from Texas isn't great either) while also doxxing people, harassing them with threatening language, and trying to get people fired from jobs. The fact that the PC Bros are all straight white males who speak over minorities while ostensibly speaking for them isn't lost on me, either. 

The episode ends with an assault on the PC Bros with a baffling 4-pronged attack involving pregnant Mexican women, taco launchers, Syrian refugee children, and Jared from Subway (despite the message, this is still South Park, after all) before it's interrupted by Kyle being shamed into saying that Caitlyn Jenner is, in fact, stunning and brave and a hero simply go make the entire shitstorm stop, as has been seen often on the internet.

PC Principal is sticking around, too, which I'm happy to see. The amount of salt being mined from this episode has reached epic proportions. It's almost as if it was fine when certain people took joy in South Park taking shots at religions, at corporations, at conservatives, etc, but when they skewer people on their own side, it's suddenly “NOT COOL BRO.” I look forward to where they take this PC Principal storyline, and I think I'll be watching the show regularly again for the first time since Satan and Saddam Hussein had a musical number in a plush bed in hell.

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