If there was anything that I was somewhat looking forward to after a dismal election, it was the next episode South Park that was going to air that night. I love South Park. If you couldn’t tell, I made the banner of this blog in an avatar app that was used to promote its 20th season. I think it is the perfect equal opportunity offender, because if I’m going to be upset about some remark about my identity as a woman and Jewish, then it will upset people of other backgrounds, genders, and race. For example, I have a tough time getting through Season 8’s “The Passion of the Jew” in which it satirizes the polar reactions of watching Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (2004) as well as the negative impacts that it had on the Jewish community. I also dislike the fan-favorite “Scott Tenorman Must Die” from Season 5. I mean, Eric Cartman, the 10-year-old manifestation of a psychopathic Archie Bunker, kills his bully’s parents, cooks their flesh into chili, and then proceeds to feed it to his bully. That’s just messed up. It’s wrong on so many levels. It’s too sickening to do a repeat viewing. The only reason why I said that I was somewhat excited about a new episode was because of the flip that happened that Tuesday night. Originally supposed to be “The Very First Gentleman” in response to Hillary Clinton’s poll lead that nearly everyone had, it’s promo featured P.C. Principal introducing Bill Clinton as the first gentleman. Then Tuesday happened, and the episode was partially rewritten before air to become “Oh, Jeez.”
It is still a very upsetting thing that this happened, but the episode brilliantly captured the anxiety, fear, and blindness of America thanks in part to the show’s swift production schedule (six days from Thursday to early Wednesday morning). A lot of the episode has to be understood for those who have stayed with the season’s plot-line. In it, Mr. Garrison, the South Park Elementary school teacher, is running for president for the Republican Party, a surrogate to Donald Trump. He is only referred to as Giant Douche. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is redrawn as a plumper version of herself from ten years ago (when she was featured in Season 11’s “The Snuke”), and is only referred to as Turd Sandwich. (Giant Douche and Turd Sandwich is also a throwback to the “Douche and Turd” episode from Season 8.) Mr. Garrison finally realizes that he is unqualified to perform the role of Commander-in-Chief, but is somehow galvanizing momentum among his supporters. His message “F— them all to death” is resonating (a clear reference to the U.S.-Mexico border wall remarks that Trump has made), but he really doesn’t know how he’s going to accomplish it. He tries to find ways to throw the election, and even runs away from a crowd of supporters that is pissed at him. Unfortunately, he ends up winning, and is in some sort of daze of believing the stuff that he has said. Also, Caitlyn Jenner is his running mate.
The election was once a side plot to the season’s focus on internet trolling and the gender war that stems from it. What doesn’t make sense from this storyline is how Gerald Broflovski, a Jewish, mild-mannered man and father to Kyle Broflovski, one of the show’s original heroes, is the troll making every little girl’s (and women’s) life a living nightmare. He says that it is out of being funny, but this plot felt too outlandish for even South Park‘s standards. And there are the Member Berries hiding in the background. These talkative grapes all remember something nostalgic. The original Star Wars. Bionic Man. The days when there weren’t many Mexicans, homosexual marriage was illegal, and Ronald Regan. These jibber-jabbers are little nightmares, except eating them leads to a state of sedative-ness and nostalgia.
All of these plot-lines seemed to far fetched. It didn’t feel very realistic while being scathing, which is what I loved about the previous season, which focused on political correctness, gentrification, and the idealized world we want to live in. But “Oh, Jeez” put everything in perspective. The Member Berries became more than just the state of everyone wishing things were the 1980s or 1990s again. They now symbolize the people that prefer to keep a blind eye to the things currently happening. We all look for escapism from all the things they are bad. But when the only people who seem to care are those on the extreme ends of the political spectrum, it leads to bad decisions and the apathy is palpable to those who look for compromise. In an age that is all about rebooting and remaking the things in pop culture we love, we need to understand that nothing will ever beat your nostalgia for the originals. It’s time to stop asking for the return of Friends or a remake of Ocean’s Eleven (which has already been remade with two sequels, and is getting an all-female reboot with eight ladies instead of eleven), and learn to like something original.
The trolling of women finally reaches a crucial point in that sexism is real, and it needs to end. We had the chance to have the first female president, but that slipped away in electoral votes. The trolls are all represented by men who take out their feelings of loneliness on others, especially those that can be classified as “other.” Trolling is protected by the first amendment in that it is technically free speech. This issue can go into whether we should have a list of banned “hate speech” or not (which is another discussion all by itself), but the bottom line is that you must respect others.
Now we are left with the satirized world fearful of a Giant Douche presidency, Norway’s troll blocking technology could spell the end of the world, Bill Clinton and Bill Cosby (another questionable offending element) are trying to teach the boys at South Park Elementary how to respect the girls, and the Member Berries are starting a zombie-like plague of nostalgia, which apparently can now be transferred by vomit. My favorite moment is when the trolls get their best desserts as all of them are asked individually to destroy Norway’s troll blocking software, only to realize it is a trap, and the briefcases that were supposed to explode, were really filled with an iPad playing Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” (‘member when that was the ultimate viral video troll? Oh I ‘member!) I am looking forward to how this season ends now that things are finally put into perspective, and I hope that South Park will continue to give biting criticism in this new world that we face next year, as long as freedom of speech doesn’t get destroyed in the process. I also hope to write more South Park pieces in the coming future because it is a great show with many political and philosophical things to discuss.