Spiritual Economic Crisis

Thursday, March 26 by

South Park is getting by the economic crisis just like the rest of the country, only in South Park Randy Marsh rises up as a prophet warning people that they have angered the economy. Stan has to find a way to return the frivolous Margaritaville machine his dad bought, and Kyle starts trouble by breaching the economy is not a dangerous entity to be feared. It’s another great South Park this season, and it’s right after the jump

Episode 3: Margaritaville
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Official South Park Site

It’s gone

At the South Park Bank, Randy is bringing Stan in to deposit the money he got from his grandma, so that he can learn the value of money. When it’s his turn, he walks up to the teller to give him the money, who tells him they can invest his cash in a “market mutual fund, then put them into foreign currency accounts with compounding interests, aaaand it’s gone.” There’s a long pause, and Stan asks, “What?” “Your money, it didn’t do too well, it’s gone,” the man says. Stan asks what he can do to get back the money, and the man tells him that he should please leave the line because it’s for customers only. An old lady pushes Stan out of the way, and the teller is quick to lose her money too. Randy comes up, pissed off as well that they lost his son’s money so quickly, and the teller recognizes Randy, starts to play with his funds online, and says, “Aaand it’s GONE!” Both Randy and Stan are speechless, and South Park has started off a promisingly good episode that’ll lampoon the economy and the way everyone is dealing with it.

Frivolity
“Recession: A Nation in Peril” is a new special on Channel 9, interviewing people from around town about the recession and its consequences, from Mr. Garrison, to the Stotch family, to the “dey took our jobs!” workers from “The Goobacks” episode. “Just how far will the economy fall?” the news anchor asks. We cut to a man, a financial analyst, who shoots himself in the head. At the Marsh house, Randy is pissed off that they’re only able to afford hot dogs and tomato slices for dinner. Stan asks them why there’s suddenly no money. Randy explains it to him – there were a bunch of idiots who got a bunch of loans to buy things they didn’t need, and reaped the consequences. As he’s giving his speech, he walks over to a “Margaritaville” margarita-maker, and make himself a juicy little drink, while lecturing Stan on the dangers of frivolous spending, his word obscured for about ten seconds while he turns the machine on.  “And the idiots couldn’t see that by doing all this frivolous spending, they were mocking the economy. And they made the economy very angry. We’re all feeling the economy’s vengeance because of materialistic heathens who did stupid things with their money. Do you understand, son?” he asks, taking a sip from his margarita. Stan nods. “Yeah, I think I get it.” This scene illustrates one of the things that South Park is so good at – exposing the hypocrisy of people who love to point the finger at someone, always lay the blame on someone else, even with this economy.

Preachers
In the mall, various speakers call out against the evils of the wall street brokers and the banks, including Cartman warning against the dangers of the covetous Jews, who took all the money and are hoarding it in a cave they built in the early sixties.  Eventually we see Randy, clothed in a green 1st century robe, lecturing everybody that they need to stop pointing fingers, and realize that the economy has cast vengeance on everybody – to repent they must stop frivolous spending. “Cut spending to only the bare essentials. Water and bread…and margaritas, yay.”

Stan’s Margaritaville Mission
Stan carts the Margaritaville into “Sur la Table,” a store in the mall that sells appliances, where the man asks him for a receipt. Stan hands hit to him, and the man tells him he’s sorry, but he can’t do anything for Stan.  “You see this Margaritaville was purchased with a payment plan. An outside financing company paid for it,” he explains. He tells Stan he has to speak with the finance company. Stan goes to the “Big Orange Finance Company” for it, and the man he talks to simply says,“ Yeah, no we can’t help you with that, yeah, no.” He explains that he hooks up people who want Margaritavilles with Margaritaville investors, which has been made into a Margaritaville security, so he’ll need to talk to Wall Street to get it worked out. Stan’s pretty pissed off by now, and so he goes to the Stock Exchange and finds who he needs – and those people explain to him the banks have the money, but since people like Stan defaulted on their payments, the government had to bail the banks out, so he needs to talk to the government. “The treasury department in DC, they’re the ones who really understand how this works!”

The economy is our shepherd
Randy is still preaching to the masses, telling them they have become lovers of pleasure, and they have forsaken the economy. “You mock the economy without fear, thy own stockbrokers lie dead by their own hand!” he calls out. “What shall we do?” the crowd asks. Randy explains various money-saving techniques, including letting children play with squirrels instead of video games. The crowd cheers, and Randy’s final pronouncement is. “The economy is our shepherd; we shall not want.” Soon enough, the entire town is dressing in old bed sheets and walking around on animals and heaving hay, and Cartman is complaining about Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars’ release on the DS – it just had to come the week parents decided to stop buying toys for their children. “You want something new every week, fat-ass,” Kyle points out.  Cartman tells him it’s all his fault, and Kyle tell him not to start. “Why are we wearing bed sheets and playing with squirrels, then?” Butters asks. When Kyle asks him who told him this, Butters’s answer is, “Well, Eric.” Kyle, exasperated, gets up on a rock and starts to tell everybody that it’s people who make up the economy, and spending is good, and they shouldn’t be afraid of it like it’s some all-powerful being. Off in the shadows, some observers notice a young Jew speaking heresy, and decide to do something about it.

The Heretic Jew
In the South Park community center, various people congratulate Randy on his good work. Somebody rushes in right then, warning of a young blasphemous Jew speaking heresy about the economy and how it’s not vengeful. “He was rallying people to spend more!” Randy tells them to relax – one Jew can’t do much harm to their economic recovery movement. At the park, Cartman tells of a dream to his friends – how he was holding GTA: Chinatown Wars in his hand, but it was stolen away before a black sky appeared over the land. His musings are interrupted by a mob that’s headed straight for Mr. Garrison – they’re about to huck squirrels at him because he bought a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer at Bed Bath & Beyond. They start throwing the squirrels until Kyle makes them stop, telling them that whoever has not spent money on anything frivolous to “huck the next squirrel.” Only one person does. He preaches later, to a group of hundreds of people – the economy is real and yet not real, and still, almost anyone can get a credit card if they need it. As an example he pulls out an unlimited spending American Express card, and tells them that it’s just plastic – it’s only people’s faith in the card that gives it its power. He’s not making any friends with the people in high places, and back at the Community Center Randy and his minions wonder what to do. “It’s obviously being undermined by one Jew,” Randy says. “There’s only one option. We have to kill the Jew,” they all decide. “I don’t know, he’s got a lot of support, it might be hard to even catch this Jew.” Suddenly nails screech across the blackboard – Cartman has entered, and he says he’ll help them catch him, and all he wants is GTA: Chinatown Wars for Nintendo DS.

The Chart
Stan finally makes it to Washington and explains to the people there his dilemma. “We just need to check the chart,” they tell him, and head into the next room. Stan hears what sounds like an arrow fly through the air. Then silence, and the three men come out, their suits splashed with blood. They tell him the investment value of his Margaritaville is “90 trillion dollars.” Stand demands to know how in the world the Margaritaville could be worth 90 trillion dollars, and they ask him if they think it’s worth more.  “Well, you don’t get 90 trillion dollars, but the chart says that’s what it’s worth,” they say. Suddenly someone comes by and says there’s a problem – an insurance company is about to go under, and people could lose millions.. They say they better consult the chart again, and walk back into the room. Stan follows them this time, and finds a bunch of Judges standing around a hole in the floor, and in the hole is a circle graph divided up into little squares, each reading something like “Try Again” “Bailout” and “Let Fail.” They cut off a chicken’s head and play a little tune after they ask what they should do for the insurance company, and the chicken runs around, landing on “Bailout.” “Bailout!” they shout excitedly. “The most prudent move is a bailout!”  Stan picks up his Margaritaville and just throws it down into the pit, smashing it to bits. He walks off. Yet another clever South Park moment as we’ve all probably felt the way Stan did right then, marveling at his government’s incompetence.

Our Savior
At Whistlin’ Willy’s Pizza Gulch, Kyle and his friends share what he feels will be their last supper together. Butters tells him they’ll hide him, but Kyle says he can’t hide forever, and he has the strangest feeling that someone is going to betray him. Everyone gasps, and for a brief second their cartoon images are captured in direct proportion to the Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci, before Cartman stands up and says vocally that whoever is thinking about betraying Kyle is a dick. Kyle stares at Cartman hatefully and says, “Whoever it might happen to be, I’m not going to give him the opportunity.” He’s been preparing for something he’s known he’d have to do for a long time, and he’s going to do it the next day. Jimmy implores him not to, but Kyle doesn’t think he has a choice, so he goes ahead and does, and when Randy and Mr. Stotch and others find him, he’s paying off everybody’s debt with this no-limit spending AmEx card.  “But that’s…impossible.” Randy blubbers. His mom implores him to stop, because he’ll be in debt the rest of his life, but Kyle refuses. The day goes by, withering to an end, and Kyle doesn’t stop swiping.  Randy comes by and hands him his own debts to pay off, and Kyle does without a question. He falls, limp, and they pronounce him “passed out – he needs to go to bed.”  They lift him up over their shoulders and place him in his own cozy bed, his mother weeping all the way. On a television report, the anchor tells of ho the town of South Park is safe to spend once again, now being debt-free. The anchor says that they can’t forget the man who restored their faiths in the economy once again, the person they must thank every day for his amazing sacrifice – Barack Obama. “Aw, come on!” Kyle shouts from his couch.

Review
This is, so far this season, the episode that has showcased some of the best South Park moments and had the most focused, pointed commentary too. The Jonas Brother episode’s target was the hypocrisy of the Disney corporation, which lacked and any particular shot as South Park has been parodying and calling Disney out on its shit for years, and then we had "The Coon" a hilarious and entertaining episode that unfortunatley didn’t run too far with its potentially ripe premise. This episode, however we get South Park turning their lens, once again, not on the big companies or corporations (though they do that too), but on ourselves and our own reasons for being in this crisis – too often we’re quick to blame everybody but ourselves, but South Park has always been good at callin the American people out on their hypocrisy, and this is no different. Juxtaposingt it against Kyle basically reenacting the Jesus’s life and the controvery was also pretty clever, especially where Kyle saves all of South Park by paying off their debts…with his AmEx card. South Park playing the Judas role was also kind of clever, but they didn’t do as much with it as they could have; forgivable, though, considering the episode was packed with Randy, Kyle, and Stan’s exploits already. Stan’s carrying around the Margaritaville to all the various people who were in charge of the money at one point or another was another great example of how labyrinthine the way our monetary system works is – and South Park closing it off with a chicken having its head cut off seems to be them saying, "You think the government has the answers? They’re more fucked up than any of us! Just be responsible!" One Kyle paid off the debts, there weren’t many places the episode could go, so the closing was a little quick and not completely satisfactory, but the final line, where the news attributes Kyle’s success to Barack Obama, was a nice jab at the news organizations and gave Kyle a pretty funny ending line. South Park’s episode on the economy was bound to come sooner or later, and it’s safe to say it didn’t disappoint.

-Thomas Anderson
aka MovieBuzzReviewDude. Check out his movie/media/pop culture blog here.

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