‘South Park‘ reached a milestone this week, when the controversial show celebrated its 200th episode. And it taught a valuable lesson.
Wednesday night’s plot, which I won’t spoil too much, revolved around Tom Cruise, who’s packing fudge at a factory, leading an army of jilted celebrities, including Tiger Woods, Paris Hilton and Oprah, filing a lawsuit against the “slanderous” town. The only way the South Park kids can stop the lawsuit is by turning Muslim prophet Muhammad over to the celebrity set, who then want to sap the “goo” that makes him impervious to ridicule. The entire half-hour was a cauldron of old and new jokes, a post-modern reflection on the show itself. And, really, popular culture as a whole.
When South Park began, it relied heavily on gross-out jokes and absurd plot devices. Then, as it evolved, the show began to reach out – or, rather, stomp out – at celebrities, trends and political happenings, like the 2008 election. The developments helped raise rating and, yes, criticism. The biggest controversy must have come in 2006, when the series creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker attempted to air an episode about the Danish newspaper that published a picture of Muhammad.
Fearing repercussions, Comedy Central censored the show. Last night was a unique type of revenge. “We’d be so hypocritical against our own thoughts, if we said, ‘Okay, well let’s not make fun of them because they might hurt us,’” said Parker this week. “We’ll rip on the Catholics because they won’t hurt us, but we won’t rip on [Muslims] because they might hurt us.’”
If there’s one lesson to learn from last night’s episode it’s that we, the world, still haven’t quite learned to laugh at ourselves. Maybe it will take another 200 episodes of South Park, which wouldn’t be a bad thing.
‘Stupid Spoiled Whore Video Playset’: