Internet trolls, political satire, and suspicious berries...yep, it's South Park
Staff Kenny Sympathizer
The new season of South Park is here, and with it the hype train returns. However, two episodes have aired already, so I must advise you better get on fast. The first episode, “Member Berries”, begins with a hilarious piece of social commentary in which we see a packed gymnasium for the girls’ volleyball match. The commentators inform us that the game is packed because people are waiting to see which of the girls will sit during the national anthem. As the anthem plays, the entire crowd is astonished that four of the six girls sat down, three of which “were not even black”. Immediately following the anthem, the gymnasium empties of people, leaving the girls to start playing in front of two fans. The uproar over the national anthem then causes Congress to seek the help of J.J. Abrams, in order to “reboot” the national anthem like he rebooted Star Wars and Star Trek.
The title, “Member Berries”, refers to a new superfruit that is taking the country by storm. These berries are small purple grape-looking things, which constantly say nostalgic phrases and cause the eater to become relaxed. These berries are not all that they seem to be, as Randy Marsh discovers when his berries start reminiscing about the Reagan Era, when “gay marriage was not legal”, and “there were fewer Mexicans around”. The rest of the episode pokes fun at both the upcoming election and at internet trolling, which are likely to be recurring themes for the rest of the season. We learn that the election is between a “Giant Douche” and a “Turd Sandwich”, who turn out to be Mr. Garrison with running mate Caitlyn Jenner, and Hillary Clinton, respectively. As Garrison, fresh faced with a bad spray tan, gains popularity he realizes that neither he, nor his running mate have any idea what to do once they take office. The only platform he has given for his campaign to “Make America Great Again”, is to “Fuck them all to death”.
Where the first episode jumps around from topic to topic, setting the stage for the rest of the season, the second episode provides a poignant commentary on the effect of internet trolling. A new internet troll has taken over the South Park Elementary school message boards, and is gaining national notoriety for his photoshopping of penises into the mouths of activists and other do-gooders around the country. In one scene the trolling becomes too much for Heidi Turner, who we see standing at the edge of a bridge with tears in her eyes as she reads the hateful comments. The camera pans up, and we hear a splash from the water below. The next scene confirms the worst has happened...Heidi has quit Twitter. Students and teachers are devastated and they take time in class to tweet nice things about Heidi, as if she has committed suicide. Skank hunt continues to torment the online South Park community, causing the girls to take extreme action against the boys, as everyone believes that Cartman is the troll. One of the greatest moments in the season so far is when Butters explains to the rest of the boys why the girls are attacking them all for something one person is doing. He says to them “That's how the world works now – you get blamed for the group you belong to, even if you didn't do nothing.”
As much as it likes to joke, South Park is continuing to grow and develop, even in its 20th season. The crude humor which the show is known for is still ever present, but it is much more than just a comedy show at this point. Sure, jokes about a turd sandwich versus a giant douche for president are funny, but what show can talk about suicide while still making you laugh? The social commentary which Matt Stone and Trey Parker provide throughout each episode makes you stop and think that maybe the extreme satire isn't too far off from the truth.
Our lives are centered around our phones and social media, for some it can seem as if the online world is more real than the actual world, and when trolls attack it can be serious. Although this episode takes it lightly, the feelings that this episode will give you are very real. Everyone knows someone either directly or indirectly that has suffered from depression, and the episode takes something as common as social media, and uses it as a medium to start discussion about the problem.
The first two episodes have me excited for the rest of the season. The stage has been set for a season full of great commentary about the state of the country as a whole, Matt and Trey have eight more episodes for the season, and with all that is happening in the news right now, they have plenty to work with. If you haven't started the new season, or think that you are too politically correct to watch South Park, I suggest that you jump on the train and join in on the social comedy that it has evolved into.