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I learned something today: Interesting Topics from South Park S19

As you guys may know, I decided not to review each South Park episode this year since I have full-time job now. However, there are episodes of the new season of South Park that fascinate me a lot. I know that the highlight of this season is the fact that Matt & Trey give a big middle-finger to the political correctness culture, but there’s an episode that may not be as prominent as others that totally deserves a good review.

So before South Park ends its 19th season, here are some things that I learned from the boys…

sodosopa

1) SodoSopa (from “The City Part Of Town”)

What the hell is this episode all about?

After the town’s reputation goes bad because of what Mr.Garrison did in last episode, Randy decides to make the town look better by getting Whole Foods Market to open in South Park. But since the damage is done, they have to begin improving the town by building a community mall called SodoSopa (“South Of Downtown South Park”) around Kenny’s house. Of course, they claim that it helps the poor like Kenny’s family, but that’s all bullcrap. Meanwhile, Mr. Kim, an owner of (in)famous restaurant “City Wok” and the avatar image of a writer of an article that you’re reading, has to face the lowest point in the history of the restaurant. He has no choice but to hire child labor to get lowest cost in order to compete with SodoSopa, but then Kenny has a bright idea….

 

Why do I love this episode?

If you’ve seen older episodes of the show in the past, there are many episodes that tell us about the reality of capitalism. They try to tell us that the only way to compete with big companies is to adapt ourselves into the new competitive situation. Remember that Wal-Mart episode? Moral lesson from that one is the fact that the “heart” of companies and businesses are customers. It’s us, after all, who decide to buy, use, or support them or not. Look at Mr. Kim. At first, his “city” business can’t compete with hipster community mall, but then he tries to compete with SodoSopa by using similar business model and then he finally makes it in the end.

Also, in this episode they try to explore the common theme in modern marketing: emotional appeal. Nowadays, there are many people who buy things NOT because of their values, but basically because it feels good to buy them. In this case, SodoSopa tries to make itself looks good by claiming that it cares about poor people and community, although Kenny’s family, whose house stands between the mall, still has to struggle as always. It exposes the emotional exploitation in nowadays’ generation.

What about child labor? Well, I think it’s just a mcguffin for the plot. They don’t criticize or praise it here.

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2) They Live 2.0 (from “Sponsored Content”/”Truth And Advertising”)

What the hell is these episodes all about?

To cut a long story short, it’s about an invasion of advertisement in South Park. Although it focuses more on the online news outlet vs. newspaper and the fight between PC Principal and Jimmy, many people remember this episode due to the fact that it lampoons click-bait and advertorial, especially the great twist ending. Then, it “Truth And Advertising”, the boys try to find out what happens to PC Principal and Jimmy, but the ad always tries to lure them somehow….

Why do I love these episodes?

At this point, I’m sure that everybody who reads this have heard or seen John Carpenter’s They Live, which is not only one of his best films, it’s also praised by many critics due to the fact that it satires that ultra-commercialism world. In the film, Nada (Roddy Piper) uses a mysterious sunglasses to learn that almost everything he sees, from advertisements to magazines to money to cops to politicians, are created to control us in one way or another. After wearing sunglasses, this is what he sees on billboards all over city.

These two episodes of SP actually reminds me of that film! In Sponsored Content, the climax scene is about a mysterious girl named Leslie. At first, Jimmy talks to her like nothing happens, but then Leslie accidentally exposes herself by saying…

You seem like a nice kid, but don’t you feel like you can be happier?

That’s right. Leslie is literally a commercial that infiltrates the town. It symbolizes the invasion of commercial in our life. I mean, this episode tries to tell us about the dark side of click-bait and advertisement that disguises as a news or an article (a.k.a. advertorial), but there are many types of advertisement out there that try to lure us…like viral video. Whenever there’s a new popular or controversial video clips,I always think that it could be another marketing plan to promote something.That’s pretty sad because basically I’m too paranoid about things, but who the heck knows whether the clip of cats playing around could be a commercial for Friskies or not.

And in Truth And Advertising, it also points out the hypocrisy in us. At first, the boys try to find out what happens to Jimmy on the internet, but the ad distracts them by popping up advertisement for guitar, movie, foods, etc. Guess what? The boys fall for them! They stop helping friend and then go out and shopping instead! It points out that although we hate ads for being intrusive, we buy many things because of them. They bring us to products and satisfaction. Do we buy them because we actually want it or ads make believe that you’re SUPPOSED to want it? Nobody knows, but as long as the capitalism system still goes on and the competition between brands still goes on, we can’t escape ad. But how much of it that we can call “invasion of privacy”? Feel free to discuss below in comment section.

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But that doesn’t mean that there’s no flaw in this season. The whole Caitlyn Jenner thing isn’t funny anymore because, basically, I don’t care what gender he/she is or what she (the REAL one, not character in the show) will do at this point and she does nothing but crashing someone on the street. Plus, I think that this season is too obvious to try to put message in episodes, Okay, usually, South Park isn’t THAT subtle, but making too obvious topic somehow makes me less interesting in that episode since I know what’s going to happen and sometimes the plot isn’t that strong.

But there’s another thing that I can learn from this season: there are many of us who are sick of the whole PC movement and the whole social media movement as well.

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PS. I want to write about the comparison of Mr.Garrison and Donald Trump as well, but I think we should discuss it on comment section instead since I have a feeling that it’s going to be a long one….

About The Author
Nuttawut Permphithak
Nuttawut Permphithak
A student who's studying in marketing. He usually spends his free-time on watching movies, listening to music, reading books, and creating things you're probably reading/listening right now.

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