A soul-crushing society, led by a click-happy media and finger-wagging president, that has demanded our country and culture change everything from its football-team names to its campus speech policies, has gone largely unchecked for the past seven or so years. Today, the shirt a scientist wears is more important than his first-in-human-history accomplishments, and the jokes we tell on Twitter lead to angry mobs waiting for us at the airport. Random YouTube comments are held up as paramount examples of our society as savagely sexist, racist, or whatever other kind of “ist” the shame media can think of.
The Gawkerization of media demands we care if a celebrity appropriates corn rows in an Instagram picture, and drives clicks through the comments that savage social-media timelines. Sensationalized celebrity media has effectively weaponized itself with the encouragement of a president who believes we should apologize for everything from our professional-sports team names to our ancient crusades. If it all feels overwhelming and exhausting, it’s because there has been very little pushback against any of it.
The cries for liberation from this browbeating have finally been answered, by what might appear, on the surface, to be unlikely heroes: the boys from the quaint Colorado town of South Park. In their 19th season, show creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have taken aim squarely at the thought-crime police. But they aren’t relaying a message about how suffocating a society built on the foundations of political correctness can be by preaching about it; they are putting the citizens of South Park through it, and in doing so, they’re showing us all just how ludicrous we’ve become.
As the good people of South Park embrace each new step on the way to PC, the consequences they face become that much worse. It all starts when an intimidating new principal, appropriately named “PC Principal,” takes over after the long-time dedicated school principal is fired over a Bill Cosby joke. PC Principal forces the town, and its most famous un-PC kid, Eric Cartman, to embrace new social rules, sometimes by brutal force and with the assistance of a PC fraternity (one of the show’s more brilliant creations in recent memory).
All of this (along with the new illegal Canadian immigrants in his class) causes the boys’ teacher, Mr. Garrison, to snap and run for president on a platform asking, “Where My Country Gone?” while promising to build a wall to protect the United States from Canada. But Canada’s blustery self-centered, orange-haired (all-too-familiar) prime minister responds by building a wall first.
As the good people of South Park embrace each new step on the way to PC, the consequences they face become that much worse.
Eric Cartman, who has been bullied into accepting PC culture, becomes a Yelp food critic, believing himself, along with thousands of other yelpers, to be the leader of a great movement of self-centered online intellectuals, bullying restaurants into giving them free food and perks and then down-rating them for having limited parking spots. When some restaurants fight back, the Yelp mob trashes a beloved pizza joint and “beheads” its mascot. Sound familiar? Something similar happened in real life earlier this year to the owners of Memories Pizza in Indiana. When they refused to cater a gay wedding because of their religious beliefs, their business was threatened and shut down with this exact method of online-mob organization.
The restaurants in South Park, however, respond in kind to their businesses’ being trashed by Yelp reviewers by serving each one of them a thing called the “Yelper Special” when they return. (I’ll just let you Google that one.)
After Mr. Garrison’s candidacy (along with the entire town) is humiliated on national TV by mockery from Jimmy Fallon, the citizens of the town go to greater lengths to prove they are truly culturally PC by gentrifying a poor part of town in hopes of attracting a Whole Foods (whose corporate inspector is the perfect send-up of Nazi interrogator Hans Landa from Inglourious Basterds).
South Park passes the Whole Foods PC test, and the store opens its doors to the delight of the townsfolk who supported it. But things take a turn when they are then shamed into donating money to starving children at the check-out counter, never mind the $62 they spend on groceries every day.
This leads the townspeople, in a further effort to establish their PC credentials, to hold a gala fundraiser to promote a “shameless America.” At the event, a harsh, dastardly character named “Reality” (seeming to speak as the voice of Parker and Stone themselves) crashes their party and gives an earful to the celebs in attendance over their shaming people into acceptance of their views while simultaneously walling themselves off in “safe spaces” with troll-proof doors. Reality singles out Lena Dunham and Demi Lovato in particular, declaring, “The world is not just some big liberal-arts college campus” and reminding them, “You’ve raised $300 by spending half a million on filet mignon and crystal glasses.”
And on it goes, with no end in sight.
#share#South Park is giving the masses one long lesson in the hyper-politicization of the culture we now live in: For each measure the eager townspeople take in attempting to become more accepting of “social justice,” things become increasingly worse for them. The people who claim that society is full of shaming and bullying are the ones who are actually the bullies ganging up on those with whom they disagree.
Parker and Stone in the recent past have dedicated episodes of South Park to confronting such issues as the whipped-up furor over the Washington Redskins’ team name and the idea that gender is merely a social construct. But they correctly assessed that the problems happening in our culture, our media, our politics, and on our college campuses can’t be summed up or defeated by one fearless 22-minute episode and a few embedded clips on YouTube and Facebook.
The people who claim that society is full of shaming and bullying are the ones who are actually the bullies ganging up on those with whom they disagree.
So this season, in recognition of the cultural cancer of political correctness burning through our mass media, they’re departing from the normal format of town conflicts’ being solved in one or sometimes two episodes: The plotline drawing out the hypocrisy of hyper-liberalized personalities’ shaming and bullying others into adopting their beliefs, while sheltering themselves from any criticism, happens over the course of three episodes.
They are on a season-long crusade to slay the beast. Permanently.
For them, this isn’t about liberal vs. conservative politics per se, and it would be a foolish thing for the political Right to attempt to lay claim to Parker and Stone (although, personally, I would hand the keys to the RNC over to them after last week’s CNBC debate debacle). We should, however, embrace what they are doing and sit back and admire it.
A culture of political correctness dominated by progressives depends on their ability to freely offend the sensibilities and beliefs of those with whom they disagree. Lena Dunham’s career presents a good example of how this works. When Dunham dons a Planned Parenthood lab coat and calls it a Halloween costume, she’s doing so explicitly to troll a pro-life, religious constituency.
Photos and articles on her stunt then generate hate clicks and mean tweets about her, allowing her to keep her celebrity-victim profile fresh and her unpopular show in the spotlight a little while longer. She’s basically trolling herself into feeling bullied by anonymous Twitter eggs, who have no power in the media to counter her narrative, which is amplified by liberal websites, that she is in fact the victim in all of this. The same dynamic is at play when media-feed outlets pluck random tweets from low-follower Twitter accounts they feel are problematic and embed them into stories to present to their mob, so readers can bombard the offenders into apologizing and never showing their faces in public again.
#related#Parker and Stone aren’t vulnerable to this kind of attack, though. They’ve built a profitable brand not only with South Park but with films and the Tony-award-winning musical Book of Mormon. So they don’t care about offending Lena Dunham or her celebrity friends, and they certainly don’t care about offending Barack Obama or his media allies. Parker and Stone are effectively critic-proof. Social-justice celebrities, media, and politicians who might otherwise jump at the chance to condemn South Park’s message know they would inevitably invite trouble for themselves in the form of more sardonic mockery.
South Park’s creators are succeeding with ruthless humor (and occasionally a catchy song), which is ultimately the only way to defeat these people: Laugh at them. Parker and Stone are laying the groundwork and leaving us blueprints as a culture for how to move past all this ridiculousness. They are dismantling the social-justice society piece by piece, week by week. Fall in line, and let them guide us.