Review – South Park Season 19, Episode 01: “Stunning and Brave”

After the disappointment that was Season 18, South Park returns to its roots and takes on PC culture in one of the most self-aware episodes yet.

Warning: Herein are spoilers for South Park Season 19, episode 01.

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Here is the basic gist of the episode: When Principal Victoria is fired from South Park Elementary (for making a joke about date rape and Bill Cosby), P.C. Principal is hired to take her place. He is a douchebag fraternity bro who pretty much bullies everyone — children and adults — into being politically correct. Nobody is happy about it, but Cartman, the eternal bigot, is the most terrified. He changes his attitude immediately, much to the chagrin, surprisingly, of his friends. Kyle becomes P.C. Principal’s main target, since Kyle was heard saying that he doesn’t consider Caitlin Jenner a hero. Kyle, Stan, Kenny and Butters beg Cartman to go back to his old ways and take on P.C. Principal, goading him by saying he should act more like his hero, Tom Brady. Cartman gives in, and attempts to frame the principal for child molestation. The principal becomes enraged when Cartman uses the term “spokesman” instead of “spokesperson,” and beats Cartman within an inch of his life, sending him to the hospital. Cartman once again vows never to return to his old ways, but is forced to break that vow in order to save Kyle, who is suffering worse and worse at the hands of the P.C. fraternity. Cartman tries to fight the fraternity off by sending in racial stereotypes, but all this does is cause more chaos. Kyle calls a halt to the madness, and tells everyone he agrees that Caitlin Jenner is “stunning and brave,” as everyone has been saying. This sates everyone around him, and the episode ends with the P.C. fraternity starting their own P.C. police force to oversee the city. Cartman has allegedly taught the P.C. bros that sometimes stereotypes and offensive humor can be used to discuss important issues, but Kyle is still dissatisfied, and points out that it seems that the only one who really won is Cartman. “And who does that remind you of, Kyle?” Cartman asks, referencing the boys’ earlier plea that he act more like Tom Brady.

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“Right, and what does Tom Brady do after breaking the rules?!” -Stan

“Deny and subvert.” -Cartman

Politcal Correctness (shortened as “P.C.”) has been an largely discussed subject lately, particularly by comedians, such as Jerry Seinfeld and Sarah Silverman. It’s only natural that it should be covered by South Park, the show infamous for breaking P.C. code in order to discuss important social issues. In essence, in this episode, Kyle is representative of South Park the show, who has issues with the politically correct state of the world. It’s important to note: Kyle is not a racist, a homophobe, a sexist, or any such thing. He’s actually a very sympathetic character. This drives home the point that Parker and Stone are NOT talking about actual bigots, but average and honest people who have the right to speak their mind, which doesn’t really harm anyone.

“I didn’t like Bruce Jenner when he was and athlete and on the Kardashians, and I don’t suddenly like him now.”

-Kyle

At the end of the episode, it is Cartman using offensive imagery to battle the ultra-P.C. frat boys, but all this does is make things worse. This is to show that two wrongs don’t make a right, and you can’t win by being a bigot, or by playing word police. Kyle is the one who has to make a sacrifice in order to calm things down. He knows he has to choose his battles in this situation, and has decided that this one isn’t worth fighting. He doesn’t want either side to win, so he ends the fight the only way he can think of.

Cartman uses racist stereotypes to fight the P.C. frat boys

Cartman uses racist stereotypes to fight the P.C. frat boys

South Park acknowledges that there is a difference between being a dick and just speaking your mind. Not everyone has to agree on every issue, and disagreement isn’t fair grounds for social conflict. Kyle is stuck in an all-too-real situation where the rest of the world has come to a certain consensus, and if you do not conform to it, you are ostracized. Let’s be very clear on one point: Free speech should be untouchable. At no point should anyone be able to force you to say anything against your will. In the end, for better or worse, it IS Kyle’s choice to do what he does. No one forces him to change his statements, although they tried vehemently throughout the episode: He makes the choice because he believed, in this case, it was the right thing to do.

The dark side of anyone being able to say anything they want is that you will hear from a great number of racists, sexists and homophobes, and their opinions will be treated as valid. This is a different case than Kyle’s: Certain people are out just to be malicious and spread hate and fear. This problem won’t be solved with word policing; it can only be solved with edification. These people must be taught that such beliefs are absurd, and the best way to do that, is through the kind of satire that South Park delivers.

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On the question of where this is going: It does seem that South Park is trying out another continuing story-line that will last all through season 19, much as they did in season 18. However, now they may have had the time to work out the kinks, and figure out where exactly they want to go with this story. The final exchange in this episode between Kyle and Cartman, I feel is a hint: If I had to guess, Cartman has a plan. He’s not done breaking the rules. Something is going on beneath his calm, kind exterior. It looks like this arc will continue, which means that there is plenty more time for the children to take on P.C. culture, and eventually win a victory for freedom of speech and expression.

This season, I’m going to try to review every South Park episode, each week. What were your thoughts on this week’s episode? Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Comment below. Until next time, lie, cheat, steal, and hug your cats!

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Eden H Reviews Spotify’s “Discover Weekly”

So, recently Spotify started doing “Discover Weekly,” wherein, each week, they create a playlist specially designed for you, based on your taste profile, what you listen to, you know, the like. Now, I am notoriously difficult to find new music for. I have broken many a well-meaning friend. But, being a devoted music lover (who has burnt herself out on everything she listens to), I opened my mind and gave it a go. Here’s a quick overview of what they had lined up for me:

MusicThatDoesntSuck

“Spellwork” by Austra – This was almost good, but was actually terrible. Taking influences from edgy, underground music and playing is to a dance beat is not a winning combination, people.

“Cool For Cats” by Squeeze – Spotify giving me Squeeze to listen to is just out of the fucking blue. Maybe they picked up that I love cats and thought I’d like the song on that principle? I don’t know.

“Mouth Breather” by The Jesus Lizard – Here’s how this song was written: “Brah, brah, listen to me shred, brah!” “Oh my god, brah! You’re shreddin’ it!” The end.

“Stars” by Hum – I appreciate your attempt to sound just like the Smashing Pumpkins, but it just didn’t work out, kids.

“Witch” by the bird and the bee – I understand, you’re going for that Goldfrapp/1930s Lounge Singer sound. OK. But these lyrics are TERRIBLE. Also, why does it seem like every time I click on a picture of an Alternative Music band, it’s one skinny dude with a bed head, and one skinny girl with Bettie Bangs? Maybe if you had more band members there would be more of a chance that one of them will stop you from sucking.

sad-hipster

“My Sister” by The Juliana Hatfield Three – I love my sister. I will not listen to your hate, Juliana.

“Promises” by Fugazi – This one makes sense. I like Fugazi in that way that someone who likes the Dead Kennedys, Minor Threat and Black Flag tends to like Fugazi.

“Under Your Skin” by Aesthetic Perfection – You know those friends who tell you, “Oh, you like this band? Then you should listen to this other band, they sound just like that band you like!” and they’re totally fucking wrong? Well, this is one of those. Someone, somewhere, equates this with Marilyn Manson, I’m sure. And they would be wrong.

“We Know Where You Sleep” by The Paper Chase – I don’t listen to rap. Unless someone hacked by account, I have never listened to rap on my Spotify. Why are you playing this for me, Spotify?

“I Luv the Valley of OH!” by Xiu Xiu – This is obviously Hipster music, but all the same, I’m very confused and have no clue if I like this or not. I’m a little bit scared and thinking about calling my friend for consolation now.

“Soma” by The Smashing Pumpkins – Everyone, including Spotify, is determined that I should listen to the Smashing Pumpkins. It’s officially a conspiracy.

“Icarus” by Jason Webley – Now, this one. I know why this one’s on here: It’s because I like Amanda Palmer and Amanda Palmer works with Jason Webley. Let me tell you a funny story about my first introduction to Jason Webley. In December 2010 or 2011, I went to see the Dresden Dolls. I knew nothing about who was opening for them, so when a random hipster got onstage and started testing the mic, I thought, “Okay, he’s a roadie.” So then this guy picks up a FUCKING ACCORDION and starts to sing, stomp, and play a sea shanty. And EVERYONE ELSE in the crowd KNOWS THE SONG and FUCKING SINGS ALONG. Somehow, I am the crazy person in this room for not knowing the words to this SEA SHANTY. A SEA SHANTY. I cannot stress that enough, A SEA SHANTY.

“Mental Hopscotch” by Missing Persons – So, according to Spotify, I either like super underground weird fucking shit, or the Most Mainstream Hits of the 80s?

“Halloween” by AFI – Look, I’m not a fan of The Misfits. But to allow AFI to cover one of their songs is just brutal.

“It’s Not” by Aimee Mann – Actually not bad. I’m guessing Spotify has picked up that I’m a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan (Maybe my playlist called “The Bronze Jukebox” tipped them off? Hmm…). However, every song I’ve heard from her has followed the same pattern: 1) Just an acoustic guitar, solemnly strummed, with sorrowful, understated vocals singing about some love lost. 2) Sweeping strings join in. 3) The drums pick things up, and the song moves into a sort of depressed jaunt. 4) Aimee Mann says something soul-crushingly pessimistic and you go cry yourself to sleep.

“60 Feet Tall” by The Dead Weather – Okay, I like The Dead Weather. I can dig this…

“Mistaken for Strangers” by The National – This is one of those songs that is so middle-of-the-road, so bland, that it is impossible to have any feelings about it whatsoever. It is a void that sucks in all your humanity and turns you into a lifeless, soulless robot-creature. It is neither good nor bad, which somehow makes it a lot worse. I listened hard to try and make out any lyrics, because I knew they were singing words of some kind, but it is IMPOSSIBLE to pay attention to what they are saying. It’s a non-song. It’s evil. It must be stopped. No, but seriously. Have you ever heard a song like that? It may be on the radio, and you heard it and thought, “Okay,” or you heard it on your friend’s iPod, and you could ask your friend about it, and they can’t really tell you anything about it, because THEY ALSO have no feelings about the song, or you heard it in the background of a party scene on your favorite TV show, and you thought, “Is this anybody good?” because it sounds kinda like it could be a band you listen to, and the next day you’re talking about the show with your friend, and you ask them “Hey what was that song playing during the party scene? It sounded familiar, like maybe Pearl Jam or Alice in Chains or Mother Love Bone,” but the answer is NO. NO, it’s not even Stone Temple Pilots! It’s some band that has one song on the radio. They’re basically just filler material for when our collective consciousness that controls the world runs out of unique ideas for bands, so they gave us THE NATIONAL.

It's true.

It’s true.

So that’s about the sum of it. This week? Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” gets about a 2/10. Like, it wasn’t all bands that I hated. Then I would be sure that Spotify was just fucking with me. Maybe next week it’ll be more accurate.

If you guys like this little review, just thumbs-up it, or whatever system WordPress has, or leave a comment and let me know. I might start doing this monthly, if there’s interest.

That’s all for now. Until next time, lie, cheat, steal, and blame it on the talking moose.