South Park took on the panderverse and it's pandermonium!
While not quite as perfect as the firing-on-all-cylinders Worldwide Privacy Tour episode from earlier this year, this "special event" zeroed in unerringly on most of its targets. Some of the absolute winners in this episode:
- First of all this: the South Park/Disney logo mash-up. This cracked me up.
- The woke recasting of every single South Park character, with not only the boys recast as empowered women of color, but also Butters' dad, Mr. Garrison, the police chief, and the proprietor of City Wok recast the same as well.
- Cartman not only as a black woman, but also as evil alternate-universe Kathleen Kennedy.
- Grinding Hollywood in general (and Disney in particular) about recasting long-beloved characters as different from the originals, then doubling-down when fans object.
- We also got an appearance from Bob Iger, but only got to see The Boss in a picture. I've heard this may not be the last time South Park takes on Disney, and with Steamboat Willie-era Mickey Mouse going into the public domain in 2024, who knows what Matt and Trey have planned for the House of Mouse in future episodes.
- Look what they've done to our City Wok:
The subplot in which uneducated handymen become Elon Musk-levels of wealthy because none of the other men in South Park - all college educated professionals who have become dependent on AI for daily tasks - are able to perform basic chores like repairing an oven door, fixing heaters, assembling catapults, and repairing broken windows was pretty sweet, although I really wish that they were just doing actual seasons with double-digit episodes on Comedy Central, because this could have simply been broken up into two terrific regular episodes. (NOTE: see update about this storyline below).
At the end, the episode did extend a bit of an olive branch in that Cartman admitted that his 10,000+ complaints per day about woke casting may have been overkill, but I think it was a bit of a hollow victory for cartoon Kathleen Kennedy. The most loathsome character in the show admits that behaving excessively was excessive behavior isn't as much of a victory lap as it may have seemed, IMO. You know who doesn't have to apologize for his objection to recasting? Kyle. His complaints, legitimate rather than excessive, aren't rendered invalid, and I think that aspect may slyly escape some viewers.
All in all, worth the six bucks to re-up with Paramount+ for a month. There's a few other things I want to check out on the service: a really well-reviewed documentary on the Milli Vanilli scandal, and a second season of Beavis & Butthead. Then I'll probably opt out again until the next time South Park decides to eviscerate the entertainment industry.
UPDATED 5:18pm: This episode of Clownfish TV on YouTube posits that the handyman storyline was a jab at the striking writers and actors who feel special and therefore don't want to consider real jobs, while blaming AI for taking their jerbs, while the handymen are the below-the-line workers who can adjust to demands of the real world and get jobs outside the industry if they have to. I like it.