The genius of ‘South Park’

The+genius+of+South+Park

By Justin Huang, Co-Editor-in-Chief

“Who shot up the school? Was it you?”

“No.”

“Did you get shot?”

“No.”

“Oh. So what’s this I hear about a math quiz?”

“South Park” has undoubtedly become my favorite satire show, and one of my favorite TV shows in general. Although the first few seasons only included dark humor and satirized common problems (which I still enjoy), the past few seasons have tackled contemporary issues such as the spread of politically-correct culture and the controversy over the 2016 election. Many of its episodes even cover issues not commonly found in the media.

Yesterday marked the premiere of its 22nd season, the first episode titled “Dead Kids.” Despite its name’s blunt nature, the characters addressed anything but that. Every parent and child in the episode—save one lone mother—express complete indifference to the four school shootings that occur during the runtime. They put their hands in the air, call it a “complex problem” and that’s that. While a shooting breaks out in the hallways, the principal takes it upon himself to mediate a student’s problem instead of paying attention to what’s going on. When bullets are whizzing past Cartman’s face, he’s more worried about getting to fourth period for a math quiz than the imminent danger.  

That’s what “South Park” successfully does—take pressing issues in our country and voice them through comedy. Their indifference to school shootings reflects America’s indifference to school shootings, although “desensitized” may be more apt. Over 30 school shootings have occurred in 2018 alone, and I no longer bat an eye. The writers even address the faux solutions proposed, including metal detectors and arming school officials, although the show giving a gun to a fourth-grade hall monitor isn’t what people had in mind. These implementations only help relieve the symptoms without solving the problem, since another shooting takes place afterwards in the show, and even they have their drawbacks.

Other seasons have shown the same level of awareness. Season 19, one of my personal favorites, introduces the social justice warrior PC Principal, who takes punishing microaggressions to a new level. Season 21 showed the harmful side effects of social media and “doubling-down” on our choices, either in our personal love lives or in government. But this season’s opener hits closer to home as a student, especially with the new precautions at school including a period-long lockdown drill.

This show isn’t for everybody, and “South Park” knows it. Each episode starts with a humorous warning: “The following program contains coarse language and due to its content it should not be viewed by anyone.” No, you might not enjoy the curse words flying left and right. No, you might not enjoy when the show’s sense of humor takes an especially dark turn. But “South Park” displays an admirable awareness of today’s issues, and I look forward to the rest of the season. Who knows, maybe there’ll be something about the FDA labelling vaping as an epidemic for minors.


Justin Huang can be reached at [email protected]