Posted tagged ‘matt stone’

REALLY QUICK: Reflections on South Park’s “You’re Getting Old”

June 10, 2011

Welcome to the second installment of our new feature here on Popular Opinions – ‘Really Quick.’ Here, instead of the usually extensive blog post, I’m going to just offer up a quick explanation as to why something is the way it is. Consider these the go-to posts when someone needs a quick answer to something they should already know.

We all had *that* birthday.

A few nights ago, Comedy Central’s flagship franchise ‘South Park’ offered up “You’re Getting Old,” an episode that does what the series does best – get people talking. Only this time, instead of a quick turnaround of a major world event or the skewering of a pop culture phenomenon, the hubbub was in regard to an uncharacteristic downer ending where, not only did everything not work out, but Stan didn’t learn anything and the very basis of the show was torn, perhaps irrevocably.

The episode centered around Stan turning 10 and not finding any redeeming qualities among anything in his life, something his doctor diagnosed as “being a cynical asshole.” It strains his relationship with his friends, and mirrors the same turmoil between his parents as Sharon’s logical unrest with Randy pursuing another absurd interest hits a fever pitch and, in the show’s closing moments, a montage shows their divorce as they sell their house and Stan moves away.

It had all the makings of a series finale. While creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker are signed on to do two more seasons of the show, it wouldn’t be particularly out of character for them to unceremoniously leave things early without any pomp and/or circumstance. While the episode was promoted as the ‘Mid-Season Finale,’ a distinction they’ve never called attention to before in previous episodes before their summer break, serving up a final episode without public knowledge it was the end isn’t unprecedented either as Adult Swim’s ‘Home Movies’ had a similar unannounced growing-up heartbreaking conclusion to end its run in 2003. That in mind, what the ravenous ‘South Park’ fandom online has largely speculated is that this episode was more than just the typical soapbox for its creators where Stan represents Trey and Kyle is Matt. Theories ranging from Randy and Sharon being Matt and Trey’s relationship to Comedy Central following last year’s Muhammad fallout to Stan representing unhappy ‘South Park’ fans have been the popular trains of thought, but as “Not Without My Anus” proved 13 years ago, Matt and Trey don’t really care enough about their fans’ opinions to deliberately give them what they do or don’t want. And that’s a good thing. That’s why ‘South Park’ has been as consistent as its been for so long; its core objective is two obscenely talented guys making each other laugh.

Randy Marsh Swag.

What everyone seems to be missing about “You’re Getting Old” is that, while most agree the show’s most inspired moments have sprung from the kids being kids, that’s precisely why the episode touched such a nerve. At age 10, or around there, who didn’t go through suddenly losing a friend/friends through either social interests or moving away? Perhaps we buried that feeling of “we want to do different things and don’t want to be around each other” with all the other emotional scar tissue of adolescence, but with how small your world is at that age, losing a friend really hurts. While the show did do a phenomenal job simultaneously mocking pretentious hipsters who don’t like anything as well as a mass-media that’s challenging to like, it’s this awakening of the “losing a friend” feeling that sits as the centerpiece of a phenomenal episode.

As for the doomsday criers thinking this is the definitive sign that the show’s ending soon, don’t forget this isn’t the first time we’ve been teased with the end. Originally ‘South Park’ was going to end after the first movie. Years later, following Team America, the internet was certain the show was coming to an end when series regulars like Ms. Crabtree were turning up dead. I think, if this change signifies anything, it’s a tonal shift for the show. 15 years ago Matt and Trey were youthful kids who were part of that young pop culture, so their throwing stones at their pop culture surroundings was just what they did. Now that they’re in their early-40s, mocking youth culture takes on a different perspective as it’s not for them to understand anyway. Do they then just call everything “shit?” Even if they, as Sharon said, “hit the reset button” when the show resumes this September (or, better yet, give us another full-length Terrance and Philip episode) the episode remains one of their most powerful crowning achievements. For those of us who have grown-up with the show over 15 years, presumably longer than the majority of our real-life relationships have lasted, losing Stan really felt like losing a friend. For a television show to tug those heartstrings a midst a hurricane of diarrea only shows the brillance that is “You’re Getting Old.”

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

South Park vs. Militant Islamic Radicals & One Angry Red-Headed Kid

April 23, 2010

I spy with my little eye something that is BLASPHEMOUS!

This week saw the airing of “South Park’s” 201st episode, the aptly named “201.” In it, celebrities and Gingers collided over possession of the Muslim prophet Mohammad who both sides believed solely possessed the ability to “never get made fun of ever.” It was a poignant episode that lived up to the hype of the series, now in its fourteenth season, reaching such a momentous milestone. It was not without controversy as, not unlike the last time creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker (Peace be Upon Them) flirted with broadcasting an image of Mohammad (seen as the highest level of blasphemy in certain Islamic circles, punishable by death), there was an overlying fear at the show’s home Comedy Central that death threats would be made. Little did they know that they would incur the wrath of not only Militant Muslims but a Rigorously Rowdy Redhead.

The Islam-centric threats came from the New York-based website RevolutionIslam. I’d like to quote their official statement that mentioned previous artists murdered for depicting Mohammad in the past and specific directions as to how to get to the creators’ (Peace Be Upon Them) homes, but I can’t as their website has since been hacked in the absolute most hilarious of ways. Minor as it may seem, the threat was enough to intimidate the network itself, resulting in every instance of the word “Mohammad” used in the episode being bleeped out, and a large black censor-bar completely obscuring the prophet for the entire half-hour duration. The network went one step further as to pull the episode out of its scheduled rerun slots, as well as made it, as well as every other episode that so much as mentioned the prophet (!), unavailable to stream on both Netflix and the show’s website.

One of these things is not like the others...

Is Comedy Central overreacting? Perhaps.* Without getting into “we can’t let the terrorists win” rhetoric, I have to echo the sentiment of the show’s original “Cartoon Wars” two-parter from 2006 where, addressing the Danish Mohammad cartoon fiasco, declared that in the eyes of parody “either everything’s OK or nothing is OK.” It’s a slippery slope and, seeing as every other religion has been blasphemed to some degree, sets a dangerous precedent. Stone and Parker (Peace Be Upon Them) responded yesterday morning with this message on the show’s official website:

In the 14 years we’ve been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn’t stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn’t some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle’s customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn’t mention Muhammad at all but it got bleeped too. We’ll be back next week with a whole new show about something completely different and we’ll see what happens to it.

Also angry with Stone and Parker (Peace Be Upon Them) is a red-headed Youtube “personality” named CopperCab. You’ve probably seen his original outrage video from a few months ago venting his frustration with the show’s treatment of “Gingers,” people born with red hair, pale skin and freckles:

Which became such a phenomenon that the boys (Peace Be Upon Them) aired a clip of Cartman recreating the video as a commercial for the show’s season premiere:

Of course Coppercab saw the clip and, channeling the spirit of Mick Foley, came back with this:

Personally, I find the idea of one of the biggest franchises in cable-television history targeting an obscure 18-year-old boy for something he said on the internet to be hilarious. Coppercab seems non-plused by the entire thing and, following the implicating of Gingers in the last episode, came back with this:

Folks, if you’re like me, you can’t stop watching those opening three seconds. Incredible. I’d make the kid one of my favorite nutzoids, but I’m not convinced his sheer insanity has peaked yet. Could the Gingers and Radical Islam perhaps be in cahoots? Is this a multi-national conspiracy to get “South Park” removed once and for all? How will Matt and Trey (Peace Be Upon Them) respond on Wednesday? Now that we finally know Cartman’s father, it looks like every truth will be coming forward soon.

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

UPDATE CUPCAKE: As of 3:15 PM ET on April 23rd 2010 AD, London has REFUSED to air episode “201.” More on this as it develops.

*And by “perhaps” I mean “yes.”