South Park Takes on Islamists, Cowards

Ed Morrissey has just about made the transition to full-fledged “South Park Republican.” He notes that,

[I]n this week’s episode, the duo take on Islamists and the cowardice of the media in confronting their intolerance. The episode begins with the town going insane and stampeding towards the community center for shelter– because Family Guy is going to depict Mohammed in their cartoon. Fox wimps out at the last moment, but that doesn’t stop Family Guy from trying again. In the first installment of a supposed two-parter, the two manage to satirize the ultrasensitive multiculturalists, the scolds of the mainstream media, and Comedy Central for pulling their “Trapped In The Closet” episode from their normal repeat cycle. I suspect that the gag will be that the second half will never air.

He concludes that, “South Park may be raunchy and tasteless, but it has become the bravest voice for freedom and common sense in modern entertainment.” Similarly, the Anchoress, who once refused to let her kids watch the show, now dubs it “honest, brave, honorable.”

I had a similar experience with the show. After having avoided it for its first few seasons, I caught bits of a couple episodes about four years ago and thought they were quite clever. Then I saw “Scott Tenorman Must Die,” the first episode from season 5. Here’s a synopsis:

Cartman believes he has attained puberty by the acquisition of pubic hair. However, he has in fact merely purchased the pubic hair from an older boy, named Scott Tenorman, and feels conned when he is told that one actually has to grow pubic hair, not buy it. After Cartman’s attempts to get his $10.00 back result in failure, and indeed costs him an additional $6.12 in the process, he plots his revenge. At first he attempts to get his friends on his side, but because Cartman is the only person who has been humiliated by Scott, none are interested. He decides to carry out his revenge alone.

[…]

He plans on having one of Farmer Denkins’ ponies bite Scott’s penis off. He trains one to attack a dummy. The pony doesn’t bite it off the first time, but the second time, it does. Cartman invites Radiohead to come to South Park to meet Scott who is, according to the letter, dying from cancer in his ass if they are free “next Tuesday around 5.” Scott later receives a phone call from Stan and Kyle telling him about Cartman’s plan. Just then, Cartman shows up to invite Scott to a chili cookoff, telling him that there will be a pony. Scott who now knows what Cartman’s plan is, tells his parents that there is a pony in trouble. They go to Farmer Denkins. Scott decides to once again humilate Cartman by having all the teenagers put their pubic hair in Scott’s chili and watch Cartman eat it.

At the cookoff, everybody is waiting for Cartman to get humilated (except for Chef who brought his own chili). Scott eats Cartman’s chili first, and then taunts Cartman to do the same. When Cartman has eaten most of a bowl of Scott’s chili, Scott begins to tell Cartman what he did. However, Cartman informs him that he knew about Scott’s plan, which shocks everyone. Cartman reveals that he switched Scott’s chili with Chef’s. Cartman says that Chef’s chili is good and he admits that he didn’t expect Chef to actually bring any chili. He explains that he knew that Stan and Kyle were going to tell Scott about his original plan. He also explains that he predicted that Scott wouldn’t want his penis bitten off, so he had his parents go to Farmer Denkins to “rescue” the pony. What Scott didn’t know is that Farmers Denkins shoots intruders on sight, especially after hearing Cartman’s tales of violent pony killers. Thus, Scott’s parents were accidentally murdered by Farmer Denkins, leaving Cartman just enough time to steal the bodies, chop them up and cook his “Mr. and Mrs. Tenorman Chilli”, which he reveals he has just fed to Scott. After realizing this, Scott is absolutely devastated. At this point during the height of Scott’s horror and grief (and right on Cartman’s schedule), Radiohead shows up and, seeing the devastated and sobbing Scott, mock him for being a “crybaby” and “totally not cool.”

It was several years before I watched another episode.

Trey Parker is a genius but he and Matt Stone occasionally cross a line into being disgusting for its own sake. Their movie “Team America” would have been much improved, in my view, from the deletion of the puppet sex scene, or at least its raunchiest moments.

Still, the social commentary and comedic value of the show is better than anything that has been on in years, perhaps since the heyday of “All in the Family.” For those with the stomach for it, it’s worth being disgusted every now and again. I certainly would not recommend allowing one’s children to watch it, however.

The video of “Scott Tenorman Must Die” may be viewed here.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. BTW, I wonder if all the bloggers who, during the Scientology broohaha a month or so ago, accused South Park of pulling its punches with regards to Islam are going to apologize now?

  2. James Joyner says:

    SD: Who was saying that? South Park has done numerous shows spoofing Muslims.

  3. Jim Henley says:

    The puppet sex scenes in the movie were hilarious.

  4. JimT says:

    I saw the ‘Scott Tenorman’ episode and thought it was fantastic. Why? Because of its (loose)similarity to Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus:

    “Titus Andronicus, Roman general, returns from ten years of war with only four out of twenty-five sons left. He has captured Tamora, Queen of the Goths, her three sons, and Aaron the Moor. In obedience to Roman rituals, he sacrifices her eldest son to his own dead sons, which earns him Tamora’s unending hatred and her promise of revenge.
    Tamora is made empress by the new emperor Saturninus. To get back at Titus, she schemes with her lover Aaron to have Titus’s two sons framed for the murder of Bassianus, the emperor’s brother. Titus’s sons are beheaded. Unappeased, she urges her sons Chiron and Demetrius to rape Titus’s daughter Lavinia, after which they cut off her hands and tongue so she cannot give their crime away. Finally, even Titus’s last surviving son Lucius is banished from Rome; he subsequently seeks alliance with the enemy Goths in order to attack Rome. Each new misfortune hits the aged, tired Titus with heavier impact. Eventually, he begins to act oddly and everyone assumes that he is crazy.
    Tamora tries to capitalize on his seeming madness by pretending to be the figure of Revenge, come to offer him justice if Titus will only convince Lucius to cease attacking Rome. Titus, having feigned his madness all along, tricks her, captures her sons, kills them, and makes pie out of them. He feeds this pie to their mother in the final scene, after which he kills both Tamora and Lavinia, his own daughter. A rash of killings ensue; the only people left alive are Marcus, Lucius, Young Lucius, and Aaron. Lucius has the unrepentant Aaron buried alive, and Tamora’s corpse thrown to the beasts. He becomes the new emperor of Rome.”

    Compared to this, ‘South Park’ is ‘The Smurfs’.

  5. ken says:

    Even prior to Shakespeare…it sounds close to the Greek myths surrounding the house of Atreus (Tantalus trying to get the gods to eat the flesh of his own son Pelops; Atreus killing Thyestes’ sons and serving them to Thyestes) and… shoot, now I can’t remember the reference in Herodotus, but I remember one in there as well.