Lessons I've Learned From TV: Satire goes too far
Published: Sunday, October 13, 2013
Updated: Sunday, October 13, 2013 22:10
“South Park” has always been a show that was unafraid to push the limits of what you can and can’t do and say on television. There have been countless episodes throughout the show’s history that have taken things “too far” to a point of disgust or absurdity, but this is part of the show’s appeal. While similar shows like “Family Guy” sometimes like to show us disturbing images and messages just to push the limits of mature cartoons, “South Park” is a satire and its satirical messages allow it to do so without always being in poor taste.
This past week’s episode of “South Park” has finally gone too far in my book. Let me start off by saying this is by far not the most offensive episode or the most disturbing. There have been several episodes where things were taken to an offensive and unfunny level, but because the message was it was forgivable. I remember an episode where Britney Spears shot her head off with a shotgun due to the public’s constant surveillance of her life. She somehow survived and then the public ignored her stump head and mocked her camel toe. The episode was one of the show’s worst and there was nothing funny about it, but the satirical message about society’s obsession with young celebrities and their downfalls made the content forgivable. The same cannot be said about this past week’s episode.
The episode seems late since it is set in the wake of the George Zimmerman trial. Cartman fears that Token will be angry and blame all white people for Zimmerman’s “not guilty” verdict therefore starting a mass riot throughout the world of revolting blacks. Cartman has nightmares that eventually partially become reality where he is Brad Pitt in “World War Z” and the blacks responding to the verdict violently attack whites reenacting scenes from the film.
In the beginning it is incredibly racist and unfunny, but it conveys society’s reaction and the media’s irresponsible coverage of the trial and verdict. It can be argued that the media almost pushed for riots and an angry reaction from African Americans. “South Park” does not seem to have this message or really any coherent message. Eventually George Zimmerman is brought into the episode, portrayed as a happy man forced to kill young African Americans for the government or something like that. Then later we see Cartman shoot Token and declare it was protected under the “stand your ground” law. On paper you are all probably creating your own analysis of the events and their message. I didn’t list everything that happened in the episode. When taken as a whole, the message seems to portray several conflicting messages, if any. It mostly just mocks current events and ignites dangerous levels of racism irresponsibly and unnecessarily.
I love “South Park.” While some episodes are great, some are not, but it is usually good entertainment. However, episodes like this make me feel as if the show has begun to lose its genius. Rather than continue to be a satire, it has degenerated into how far it can controversial subjects and still get a laugh. As I mentioned before, satire is justified even if it is offensive, but not like this. Satire can go too far and when it does, it is truly a shame because it no longer has any message or artistic value.