South Park on Giving Up – Wisecrack Quick Take
lcome to this Wisecrack Quick Take on South Park Season 22 Episodes 1-4!
Written & Directed by: Michael Luxemburg
Narrated by: Jared Bauer
Edited by: Andrew Nishimura
Produced by: Emily Dunbar
South Park on Giving Up – Wisecrack Quick Take
What’s up guys? Jared here. If you’ve been following south park, and our south park podcast Respect Our Authoritah, you’ve probably noticed that the show feels a little different these days. Last season, South Park often explored our reactions to current events – especially outrage and despair. And while that’s still front and center [pedophile jokes], this season hones in on a different feeling- resignation. So far, South Park has been showing how the modern world has overwhelmed, devastated, and just exhausted us. “Do you know how hard it is being a kindergartener?” “Yeah we need a break sometimes.”
So let’s get super depressed about the world , in this Wisecrack Quicktake on the first four episodes of South Park season 22. And as always spoilers ahead. First a super quick recap of the season so far. In episode 1 Sharon freaks out about the daily school shootings at South Park elementary, but no one else seems to care. Meanwhile Cartman is Jessica Jonesing to investigate the seemingly impossible claim that Token hasn’t seen Black Panther. In episode 2, Father Maxi, now the butt of a plethora of pedophile jokes, leaves his post in a crisis of faith, only to find hope with Butters. Of course a priest being best friends with a kid is a bad look, and the archdiocese mistakenly sends out a clean up crew to take care of the issue. Episode 3, sees South Park’s resident christmas mascot lose his position after a series of shitty, ambien fueled tweets, while Episode 4 takes the Marsh family from South Park to a Colorado weed farm where Randy goes toe to toe with Big Vape.
So what do all these episodes have in common? A few things but we’ll start with maybe the biggest: Desensitization. To understand South Park’s commentary on desensitization. we have to understand the way the media contributes to and alters collective grief. Scholars Arthur and Joan Kleinman describe the way in which “images of suffering are appropriated to appeal emotionally and morally” to certain audiences, and how these images have become extremely important to the media. The problem, however, is that aside from just reporting on tragic events, the media commercializes victims, who are “taken up into processes of global marketing and business competition.” When experiences turn into commodities that are leveraged by mainstream or social media, to give us all the feels, something strange happens: The result, is that, “in the end, we become numb to the suffering of others.” South Park is telling us something we already know, that it’s easy to be impassioned about a thing at first, but it’s equally easy to burn out.
In episode 1, we see South Park beset with a plague of school shootings, during which most behave with a cold nonchalance. Nobody seems to give a shit, except Sharon, “Kids are DYING. When did this become NORMAL?” nstead of listening to her pleas to Think Of The Children, Randy and the rest of South Park believe the real issue is that she’s on her period, or worse… entering menopause. And from there, episodes 3 and 4 open with gunshots at South Park elementary, before panning over to the more “pressing” story to tell. Desensitization is so rampant, the citizens of South Park aren’t even outraged about Catholic priests molesting children, they’ve simply resigned to making jokes about it… “Salvation in a little boy’s mouth. I’m going to post that one for sure.” Even when his son is theoretically in danger, Randy can’t help but crack jokes and post them on social media, “NO WAY. Hang on! Hang on! I gotta post this!”
We see here how social media makes it that much easier to become desensitized by berating us with images and ideas of suffering, and even providing an incentive to think of these things as jokes or potential posts rather than serious events. In all these cases, no one even tries to make the world any better, they’re too busy just trying bare the nightmare world they’re living in. So how can these horrible things be fixed if everyone has become indifferent? To be blunt, they can’t. The people just become exhausted and eventually submit. No matter how much sense Sharon makes, the townspeople write her off, and eventually, even she becomes comfortably numb, barely reacting when her son Stan becomes the latest victim in a school shooting. “Well, it’s not that big a deal.”
Maxi’s quest to become a better priest ends the same way. He rejects the church’s institutional coverup of the kid touching epidemic and slaughters the clean up crew with their own cumboni, but he’s also accepted that he can’t save the church, nor can he expect the adults to change their behavior. All he can do is vow to do the right thing as an individual. It looks like there’s not much choice but to go with the flow and accept the world as given, as horrible as it is- which is a lesson Kyle learns the hard way, courtesy of his good friend Mr. Hankey. When everyone’s favorite christmas poo finds himself in trouble for taking ambien and tweeting things like, “The city council are a bunch of p***y licking islamists.” Mr. Hankey not only refuses to admit he did anything wrong, he continues to act like an asshole. Mr. Hankey looks for help clearing his name, but no one will help him because, as Gerald says: “I learned a long time ago, if you defend poop, you get stained.” Finally Mr. Hankey finds hope in Kyle who vows to stick by his friend.
Meanwhile Strong Woman gives birth to a quintuplet of PC babies, who react negatively to any violations of political correctness . The babies and Hankey collide when The Christmas Poo puts on an early Christmas celebration and the babies cry at even the most benign of Holiday well-wishes. Mr. Hankey goes off the rails and Kyle’s attempts to calm the situation leaves him stained- both literally and metaphorically. In the end, Kyle has to give up and stop defending his friend, because if he doesn’t- he’ll get ostracized too. “You want me to get erased too?” It turns out, Cartman was right: “I want to stick by my friend.” “Yeah we’ll see how that goes for you in 2018.” So, what happens when you want to fight back against an exhausting, infuriating world, when you try to make things better, or just escape the pressures of modern life?
Aside from the gunshots in the intro, episode four starts very differently than the others. Instead of being desensitized we see Randy FINALLY get riled up.. After three episodes of handwaving the crises around him, what possibly moves Randy to take action? A picture of a dogs buttole. “A dog’s butthole? That’s where we’re at now, huh?” From there, he decides to abandon South Park and move on up to where he can live a life of ‘tegridy’. There he starts growing weed, but refuses to participate in the “progress” promised by executives at Big Vape, thereby pitting his ‘tegrity against their concept of progress. Of course, this is funny because Randy really has no ‘tegrity to speak of. His homespun style doesn’t come from growing up on a farm, or being born into the life, it’s just a random choice a guy in a small town made. His “accent” is a clear affectation that he picks up and drops on a whim. He even uses the language of ‘tegrity as an advertising device at the end of the episode. In the end his ‘tegrity nonsense is made of the same stuff as the claims to progress that Cartman and the vape executive make. Just as ‘tegrity is a costume Randy puts on to sell the Jungle Kush, progress is just an advertising device. It’s an excuse to move a product with flavors that target children.
In South Park, even the attempts to heal such an exhausting world, whether through progress or tegridy, are totally self-serving and full of shit. But.. what exactly does tegridy even mean? Well to hear us try to hash it out, check out our South Park podcast Respect Our Authoritah. Link’s in the description. And as always thanks for watching. Peace.