South Park not only amuses, but informs

Overprotective parents, watch out— “South Park” is back for its newest season, and your kids have probably heard about it.

Created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the infamous show is well-known for its unique mixture of crass humor and scathing social commentary.

Despite being repressed by schools, being threatened by religious extremists from around the world, and being outright banned in certain countries, “South Park” is still running strong on its longtime home of Comedy Central, having launched its nineteenth season last week.

Titled “Stunning and Brave,” the new episode’s plot deals with the issue of political correctness.  “PC Principal,” a newcomer to “South Park” with the appearance of a stereotypical frat guy, comes to the absurd Colorado town because South Park “is lost in a time warp.”

He starts to criticize the citizens, saying“We’re in Colorado, right? Where are the Hispanic kids? Huh? Where are the ethnic and racial minorities?” to which the school counselor, Mr. Mackey, replies, “Well, we have Token, he’s black.”

PC Principal then punishes Mr. Mackey with two days of detention, goes on to lecture the citizens some more and ends his speech by telling everybody to “suck it,” all in the name of spreading political correctness.

Anyone who sees this scene as tasteless and juvenile would be missing out on the intelligent writing at work here. Parker and Stone’s clever writing often goes unacknowledged by people who don’t see beyond the surface level of “South Park’s” content.

Take the character Token for example: He’s the only African American kid in a town full of white people. These days, when a commercial or TV program features too many people of one racial appearance, the producers will often insert someone of a different race for the sake of showing diversity.

The fact that “South Park’s” ‘token’ is explicitly named Token shows an awareness of this pattern throughout society, and pokes fun at the practice at the same time.

The entire series of “South Park” is littered with multi-layered jokes such as these, and the new episode is no exception. Alongside political correctness, hypocrisy was the other major theme to be explored.

At one point in the episode, fourth grader Eric Cartman threatens to frame PC Principal for child molestation, saying “I don’t need to tell anyone about this. No, I think we have an understanding. Capiche?” Upon hearing this common phrase, PC Principal starts violently beating Cartman for “associating Italian-Americans to intimidation tactics.” Cartman is reduced to a bloody pulp as the muscled maniac furiously pummels the fourth grader with his bare hands, which puts Cartman in the hospital.

This type of attitude is echoed in the ranks of the frat guy stereotypes that start showing up in the town of South Park.

Basically functioning as a gang, they routinely bully and intimidate people into being politically correct throughout the episode. Ironically, one of these frat guys suggests to the others, “We should all get a house together and unite our tolerant views.”

At this stereotypical frat house, (which seems to be in a perpetual state of partying,) the frat guys lay plots to belittle and harass people who aren’t politically correct, plots such as saran-wrapping character Kyle Broflovski to a tree and drawing penises on his face.

This mentality is perfectly described by Cartman while he lies in his hospital bed, as he was severely injured by PC Principal. In this interesting scene, Cartman, who is usually a bigoted sociopath, starts to repent for the type of life he has lived. He says, “I’ve lived such a horrible life, always doing whatever I want, claiming it to be for integrity.”

While he’s talking about himself, Cartman’s words flawlessly define PC Principal’s behavior. Here, South Park’s touch for multi-layered irony is revealed once again, because Cartman’s state of repentance is brought about by the very same behavior he brings himself to denounce.

Through the use of several politically incorrect methods, the new episode of “South Park” offers commentary on political correctness, hypocrisy, social conformity and mob mentality. Perhaps the objective of Parker and Stone is merely to offend as many people as possible, but even if this is the case, it’s hard to deny that “South Park” is full of philosophical themes and social awareness, which makes the show stand out among others in this era of nigh inescapable media exposure.