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Thursday, October 14, 2010

South Park goes after New Jersey and 9/11

     Ah, South Park, how I've missed thee.  I know we only get about episodes twice a year, with months in between, but it's never enough.  South Park is already two episodes deep into the fall run, and I've already been vastly amused.  I thought the show had certainly run out of groups to make fun of and go after, but with NASCAR fans last week, and the denizens of New Jersey last night, they found more material.  I don't understand NASCAR myself, or why people watch any organized sport for that matter, and while I'm sure that is not just watched by poor, stupid people, you have to admit that a lot of the fans are certainly that.  But having viewed more Jersey Shore episodes that I care to admit (I did it because I'm a television reviewer!  But I refuse to embarass myself by reviewing it), South Park did a great job of capturing the cast of that show, at least.  And the women of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, I suspect, though I have not watched even a minute of that show.

     The ways in which South Park worked the reality shows into the episode were funny and clever.  I didn't much enjoy the interrogation of "The Situation", but when 'a Snooki', a hideous, troll-like creature got loose in The Sizzler, I laughed quite a bit.  While Snooki herself isn't ugly, per se, I loved how they took the funniest parts of her and morphed it into something more.  Even better, the creature constantly ate pickles.  I hope she can take a joke.  I also enjoyed the play off of the camera interview, a staple in both reality tv and sitcoms nowadays.  When the camera changed angles and the viewers were treated to a whole living room full of people staring quizzically at a character who had just been doing the camera interview, I cracked up.

     In the South Park world, New Jersey had taken over most of the country, and the Jersey shore had extended down to Texas.  Colorado was next, and the town was being threatened with the rename 'West Jersey'.  Only Sheila Broflovski (voiced by Mona Marshall) saw the danger coming when the first people from Jersey moved in.  Finding out that Sheila is from New Jersey just felt right, and made so much sense for her character, when relating it to the stereotypes played up in this episode.  Kyle (voiced by series co-creator Matt Stone), her son, began to develop symptoms of New Jersians, because apparently it's a genetic disease.  He tried to control it, but prompting from Eric Cartman (voiced by the series' other co-creator, Trey Parker) made it erupt.  In the end, Kyle realized that he had to embrace his heritage to help defeat the coming New Jersey army.

     Perhaps the most offensive part of the episode, though, had nothing to do with New Jersey people at all.  Faced with a looming invasion, and unable to find help, Randy Marsh (Parker) sent a tape to Osama Bin Laden, asking for his assistance.  The Al Qaeda leader sent planes, which crashed onto the unarmed New Jersey hoarde, killing them by the score in fiery deaths.  It's been a little over nine years since the September 11th attack, but is that long enough before you poke fun at it so blatantly?  I was more shocked than tickled by that twist.  And I felt it highly unfair that Bin Laden, after offering aide to Americans in need, was murdered in the final seconds.  Even for South Park, which specializes in offensiveness, it was uncomfortable.

     South Park airs Wednesday nights at 10pm on Comedy Central.

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