Sunday, September 18, 2016

South Park Season 19

South Park's twentieth season is airing this fall. Via my Playstation Vue app, I've gone back to watch season 19 before starting on the new one.
I was in college in the mid-1990s, when the South Park phenomenon started. I remember seeing the Spirit of Christmas: Jesus vs Santa short video as it was passed around campus. (Often literally passed around from computer to computer. Internet video wasn't nearly as prevalent back then.) It was terribly irreverent, foul-mouthed, full of cheesy shock-value...and absolutely hilarious. My friends and I loved it, and the full show that began airing on Comedy Central in 1997.

South Park is an equal opportunity insult machine. Race, religion, beliefs of all kinds, celebrities, corporations, social movements, you name it...they'll make fun of it. They're more fond of disgusting poop jokes than I have been since I was 12, but I admit it certainly fits in with the rest of the show. It's hard to be offended when they make fun of something that affects me personally, because they're doing it to everything...and besides, it's all laugh-out-loud funny.

I haven't watched South Park regularly for several years, largely because I haven't had cable TV and can't be bothered to track down alternative access. Since it's easily accessible via Vue now, though, I'm taking the opportunity to catch up a bit. The 19th season's ten episodes showed up for easy on-demand access, so I checked it out.

The theme of the season is the gentrification of the town. From a new school principle focused on political correctness and broadening social consciousness to building a trendy nightlife district and attracting a Whole Foods, South Park is intent on moving on from backwater town status. The show has done similar things back when I was watching more regularly, but this is wide-ranging across multiple episodes rather than just one or two.

Along the way, just about everything that was in the news a year ago (and often still is today) gets a mention. Building a wall against illegal immigration, presidential politics, tensions between the police and the public, minority targeting by police, terrorist radicalization, Internet advertising, the slow death of old news media...it's all here, and all fair game for satire. My favorite bit in the whole season is when the boys accidentally become associated with ISIS, and ask the terrorists if it's all right that one of them is a Jew. *Shocked silence*..."No."

Every episode of South Park starts with a disclaimer that ends with "...and due to its content it should not be viewed by anyone." Probably true, but it's too funny not to watch anyway.

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