Reviews

South Park

Sean Ferrell

As the boys grew pimply and fat (Cartman got fatter), the gaming company focused on finding more consumers. Everyone was at fault, from kids to corporate suits.

South Park

Cast: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Mona Marshall, Adrien Beard, April Stewart
MPAA rating: N/A
Subtitle: Season 10: First Two Episodes
Network: Comedy Central
US Release Date: 2006-10-04
Website
Trailer
Amazon
subvert. 1: to overturn or overthrow from the foundation; 2: to pervert or corrupt by an undermining of morals, allegiance, or faith.

--Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (Seventh Edition)

With well over 100 episodes under its belt, South Park could just punch the clock. But the 10th season's first two episodes, "Make Love, Not Warcraft" and "The Mystery of the Urinal Deuce," revealed that it's nowhere near done taking aim at substantive targets, including the Bush administration and its own audience. These episodes showed that South Park still targets social issues, political causes, and celebrity culture. In "Make Love, Not Warcraft," the target was unfit children, in "The Mystery of the Urinal Deuce," government corruption and conspiracy theories.

In the season premiere, Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny slept only three hours a night for three weeks to play an online videogame, while their parents remained oblivious. Stan's never knew what he was doing, while Cartman's mother gladly provided Hot Pockets and held the bed pan for her son when he suffered explosive diarrhea. As the boys grew pimply and fat (Cartman got fatter), the gaming company focused on finding more consumers. Everyone was at fault, from kids to corporate suits.

In the second episode, "The Mystery of the Urinal Deuce," the government got its tires slashed. The boys' discovery of a kid who went "number two" in the boys' room urinal led them to uncover who really was responsible for 9/11. With more twists than a Grisham novel, the plot took them from one crackpot theory (Cartman blamed Kyle) to another (the U.S. government faked it). In the end, the guest-starring "Hardly Boys" found the real culprit by following the erections they got when mulling over various mysteries. "I'm getting a raging clue right now," said one Hardly Boy. "Let's follow it." The parody of conspiracy theorists extended to U.S. leaders who refuse to share information, as well as the consistently gullible "American public," leading the boys to realize that "one-quarter of the American public is retarded."

While such targets seemed easy enough, these episodes of South Park also took on its audience. "Make Love, Not Warcraft" poked fun at the gamers who make up much of the show's audience. Likewise, "The Mystery of the Urinal Deuce" noted repeatedly that "one-quarter of the American public is retarded." It featured a power-hungry George W. Bush executing conspiracy theorists in the name of sowing such confusion about the truth that no one would question his version of it. The episode had the public at large believing the more insane theories, such as the "Kyle did 9/11" theory.

How does South Park cast blame about so broadly and still have a place on a network? One reason may be that not many people are actually watching. Consider that the notorious Tom Cruise episode (March 2006) drew an increased audience of 3.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen. That's half as many as play Warcraft, the online game featured in the new season's first episode. And while that number would be a failure on network television, it was huge by cable standards.

Acting like the snarky kid in the back of the class shooting spitballs, South Park has found a small, rabid audience. Since its fourth season, South Park has provided more hard-hitting satires of prominent targets than any other program. Despite or because of its sharp accusations, it tends to remain unnoticed by mainstream media, as only a handful of people are paying attention. Only those shows where targets speak up -- Tom Cruise or Isaac Hayes -- garner much attention. South Park indicts everyone who claims to "know what's right," whether on the left or right, faithful or secular, child or adult. While its small audience tends to agree with this take-no-prisoners approach, the show consistently pushes viewers to reevaluate their assumptions and biases. And it uses diarrhea to make its points stick.

9
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Dancing in the Street: Our 25 Favorite Motown Singles

Detroit's Motown Records will forever be important as both a hit factory and an African American-owned label that achieved massive mainstream success and influence. We select our 25 favorite singles from the "Sound of Young America".

Music

The Durutti Column's 'Vini Reilly' Is the Post-Punk's Band's Definitive Statement

Mancunian guitarist/texturalist Vini Reilly parlayed the momentum from his famous Morrissey collaboration into an essential, definitive statement for the Durutti Column.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

What Will Come? COVID-19 and the Politics of Economic Depression

The financial crash of 2008-2010 reemphasized that traumatic economic shifts drive political change, so what might we imagine — or fear — will emerge from the COVID-19 depression?

Music

Datura4 Take Us Down the "West Coast Highway Cosmic" (premiere)

Australia's Datura4 deliver a highway anthem for a new generation with "West Coast Highway Cosmic". Take a trip without leaving the couch.

Music

Teddy Thompson Sings About Love on 'Heartbreaker Please'

Teddy Thompson's Heartbreaker Please raises one's spirits by accepting the end as a new beginning. He's re-joining the world and out looking for love.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Little Protests Everywhere

Wherever you are, let's invite our neighbors not to look away from police violence against African Americans and others. Let's encourage them not to forget about George Floyd and so many before him.

Music

Carey Mercer's New Band Soft Plastics Score Big with Debut '5 Dreams'

Two years after Frog Eyes dissolved, Carey Mercer is back with a new band, Soft Plastics. 5 Dreams and Mercer's surreal sense of incongruity should be welcomed with open arms and open ears.

Music

Sondre Lerche Rewards 'Patience' with Clever and Sophisticated Indie Pop

Patience joins its predecessors, Please and Pleasure, to form a loose trilogy that stands as the finest work of Sondre Lerche's career.

Film

Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, Venom is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.

Books

Cordelia Strube's 'Misconduct of the Heart' Palpitates with Dysfunction

Cordelia Strube's 11th novel, Misconduct of the Heart, depicts trauma survivors in a form that's compelling but difficult to digest.

Music

Reaching For the Vibe: Sonic Boom Fears for the Planet on 'All Things Being Equal'

Sonic Boom is Peter Kember, a veteran of 1980s indie space rockers Spacemen 3, as well as Spectrum, E.A.R., and a whole bunch of other fascinating stuff. On his first solo album in 30 years, he urges us all to take our foot off the gas pedal.

Film

Old British Films, Boring? Pshaw!

The passage of time tends to make old films more interesting, such as these seven films of the late '40s and '50s from British directors John Boulting, Carol Reed, David Lean, Anthony Kimmins, Charles Frend, Guy Hamilton, and Leslie Norman.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.