Fall TV 2014RecapReviewTV

‘South Park’ Kickstarts 18th Season by Tackling the NFL

Phillip Morgan ‘18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Still from the season premiere of South Park. Photo Credit: Comedy Central.
Still from the season premiere of South Park. Photo Credit: Comedy Central.

How could one expect anything other than lines of profanities spewed at them as soon as the 18th season of South Park, titled “Go Fund Yourself,” began? Even with a 10-month hiatus (the longest in South Park history) it’s not like their audience would expect anything less. In fact, the episode starts by just having all of the boys spout off horrific phrases without any sort of context, as if Trey Parker and Matt Stone are just daring us to question them after so many seasons of insane profanity.

Luckily, the audience is shown that the boys are attempting to set up their own start-up company on Kickstarter in order to make enough money so that they don’t have to go to school anymore. Their company mantra is to do absolutely nothing and just let people give them their money. However, since Furry Balls Plopped Menacingly on the Table Inc. “doesn’t quite roll off the tongue” Cartman suggests the name Washington Redskins because the trademark got taken away, and their start-up actually starts paying off. Everything looks like smooth sailing for the boys on their quest to do nothing until Dan Snyder of the actual Washington Redskins shows up in their office, demanding they change their name because they find it highly offensive.

Not surprisingly, his pleas to Cartman fall on deaf ears, but then South Park asks viewers to do the unthinkable: sympathize with the fictional Dan Snyder to better understand the sins of the real Dan Snyder. Thus begins the long running gag that portrays Snyder in the same light as a disgraced Native American. No punches are pulled, especially when he defends his team’s honor by himself against the Dallas Cowboys in a last stand that finally earns the public’s sympathy as he’s massacred by the team. This moment seamlessly doubles as a metaphor for the violence and hyper-masculinity surrounding NFL culture and its constant attempts to cover it up.

Indeed, the entire NFL also gets the South Park treatment. Robert Goodell is revealed to actually be a robot that just says vague reassurances so the teams’ presidents never have to actually do anything, and the decision to voice him with clips from his actual press conferences makes the fakeness of everything he says all the more obvious. Then, when Snyder and co. ransack Kickstarter headquarters, some of the players head butt their computer servers and then shake off their head trauma. One of them even hides in the elevator to catch one woman who tries to flee the chaos, which nods to the controversy around the injuries players sustain and the frequent reports of sexual violence committed by pro athletes.

Still from the season premiere of South Park. Photo Credit: Comedy Central.
Still from the season premiere of South Park. Photo Credit: Comedy Central.

Of course, the episode’s best moments are when the focus is on the kids. The most telling part in the whole episode comes when Kyle says they should issue a statement against ISIS to dissociate themselves, and Cartman refuses because “digging in our heels and pissing on public opinion is what the Washington Redskins are all about!” Besides this being one of the funniest and most ironic lines we’ve heard from this show in a long time, Cartman’s entire speech in this scene is satirical gold, as he expands it beyond the confines of the Redskins controversy. He goes on to promote being a totally honest company, but in the darkest sense imaginable, saying that companies like the NFL always go downhill because they take a moral stand on something and then act against it. When Kyle says that’s what the Catholic Church does, Cartman simply responds, “NFL? Catholic Church? Same thing!” It’s one of those surreal moments in this show where the kids tell us what’s wrong with the world at point blank range without any sort of lens to filter it through, and that’s why this show is still around after all these years, because we need those moments.

The jabs at the Redskins and Kickstarter only get better and more ridiculous in scale, as Cartman delivers a speech in a setting eerily similar to that of Apple’s iPhone 6 reveal. During which Cartman happily yells profanities at the audience, followed by an all-too-obvious effigy of a graphic.

But that’s only the beginning. Inter-spliced throughout the episode are slight jabs at the crowd funding culture surrounding sites like Kickstarter, all of which Cartman delivers with his own unique brand of dark sincerity. Then, following his overly dramatized announcements of having moved the furniture around in his office, he reveals the logo change prompted by Dan Snyder’s earlier complaints to the NFL, which serves as the ultimate visual insult to the whole scandal.

Alas, no episode is without its flaws. The parody of the sexual violence allegations seemed somewhat mean-spirited and tasteless, and the subplot of Stan and Kyle’s insecurities regarding their company’s name and the quick blurbs about ISIS felt a bit forced and inconsequential. However, the episode makes all of it okay when they rejoin Washington Redskins at the end of the episode.

All in all, this was an insanely hilarious episode, a fine example of South Park firing on all cylinders, and one with the potential to be remembered as a classic in years to come. Sure, they’ve seamlessly intertwined two unrelated issues before with equal hilarity, but that doesn’t make this time any less funny or pointed. The sentiments and messages expressed in this episode may be familiar, and the Redskins controversy may seem a bit trivial of an issue for a show like South Park to tackle, but just like countless times in the past, the writers clearly are here to make a point their way, and hopefully this will remain true about this show for years to come.

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