From its earliest days, "South Park" has been at its best when it is mocking the hypocrisy and stupidity of people and their foibles, and nowhere is this more evident than in the many episodes where it has forayed into political parody. Sometimes the episode has been merely subtly political, whereas others, such as the episode about the conclusion of the 2008 presidential race, have been overtly so. Regardless of the context, you can usually count on "South Park" to deliver an entertaining and insightful ride where not a single soul is left blameless and everybody ends up with egg on their face, be they the President of the United States or Osama bin Laden.
The season premiere of "South Park" this Wednesday features a bit of a parody on the recent Blackwater scandal, and so in honor of that, Screen Junkies presents…
SOUTH PARK’S 12 BEST POLITICAL PARODIES!!
12. Episode 1208: The China Problem
If there’s one thing "South Park" can always be guaranteed to deliver, it’s random-ness and unpredictability. With this episode they tackled both irrational American fear of the Chinese while also famously raking George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg over the coals for their unadulterated raping on Indiana Jones in the action hero’s latest installment. With the political side of the story, Cartman as usual standing in for the dumbass American was brilliant, and whenever he gets paired up with Butters it’s bound to be a good episode. Lampooning the idiocy of going to a P.F. Chang’s to spy on potential Chinese conspirators was just one of the many great aspects of this episode.
11. Episode 310: Chinpokomon
With “Chinpokomon,&rdquo South Park once again tackles the relationship of parents to their kids while at the same time using it as a platform for an overblown parody of the Japanese trying to take over our culture and kill our leaders through the products we buy from them. The blindness of parents, the zombie-like children following a fad, and the irrational paranoia of Americans who fear the Japanese simply because they make the occasional incomprehensible TV show were all parodied to perfection, and the episode can probably be best summed up in Sheila Broflovski’s response to parents who admit that “Chinpokomon” doesn’t have any excessive violence or questionable material: “Yes, but it’s stupid, and that could be worse!”
10. Episode 806: Goobacks
Of course "South Park" was going to tackle the politically volatile issue of immigration at some point, and the clever use of having people from the future taking away the jobs from the present added an extra layer of satire – the consequences of our own actions today literally coming back to haunt us. This episode even gave us the classic “Dey took our jobs!” saying that makes an appearance in a few other "South Park" episodes. The ending, though, where all the men decide to have an orgy instead of working to make the future a better place, because that’s way more gay, was classic inane hilarity.
9. Episode 1104: The Snuke
Perhaps the single most memorably gruesome image from this episode, and maybe even the entire season, was a man being bloodily mutilated by at unknown parasite residing deep within Hillary Clinton’s snatch. This kind of ridiculous vignette combined with compelling social commentary is part of what makes the series so enduring, and the twist of the episode – that the “terrorists” are actually the British looking to take back the U.S. with Revolutionary War-era battleships – only adds to the fun. The episode also poked fun at the TV show, “24” while giving a bit of a commentary on Americans’ own racism, while admitting that sometimes, even in the wrong hands, racism can do some good.
8. Episode 614: Death Camp of Tolerance
"South Park" has been decried by countless individuals as one of the most tasteless shows on television, an intolerant bigoted mess. So of course you know Trey Parker and Matt Stone had to bring in political correctness to the mix eventually, and what better way to do than a Lord of the Rings-style story involving Lemmiwinks the gerbil traveling up Mr. Slave’s rectum and the boys being sent to a concentration camp where a Hitler-like dictator demands they learn tolerance, or be severely punished. Irony has always been one of "South Park’s" strong suits.
7. Episode 509: Osama bin Laden has Farty Pants
In the very first episode that aired after 9/11, "South Park" did the unthinkable and wrote an episode surrounding someone whom most Americans believed was basically evil incarnate. So what to do? Why, turn him into a wacky Looney Tunes-style character who is so over-the-top that he loses all possible threat. It was a zany and daring move but a hilarious one nonetheless – a ruthless satire of the cartoonishness that bin Laden was approaching in American minds everywhere. Despite this, though, the message ends on a hopefully patriotic note, with Stan admitting that America may have some problems, but if you don’t like the team, you should “get the hell out of the stadium.”
6. Episode 1009: Mystery of the Urinal Deuce
As with many "South Park" episodes, this one starts unassumedly enough in the school, with a mystery surrounding who left a turd in the urinal in the boys’ bathroom. Such inane subject matter quickly escalates as Stan and Kyle are embroiled in a conspiracy wrapped inside an enigma, all surrounding 9/11 and its secrets, with Cartman leading the charge as he tries to prove that the covetous Jew Kyle was responsible for the devastating attacks on September 11. Not only did the show effectively skewer the ridiculous 9/11 conspiracy theories that were floating around at the time, it managed to stuff in some effective mystery into the episode along with the unforgettable Hardly Boys, who are constantly getting “raging clues.”
5. Episode 1212: About Last Night…
This episode quite literally aired the day after it was announced that Obama had won the unforgivingly long 2008 presidential race. And like many a time before, "South Park" proved itself to be a bit prophetic. Aside from the obvious fact they guessed correctly Obama would win, they called out the flaws on both sides, both the ardent supporters who thought Obama would solve everything and the McCain-lovers who thought the world would come to an end as soon as Obama stepped into office. “Game over, man, mmkay?” cries Mr. Mackey. Not only this, but they pointed out the whole cinematic quality of the campaign, how it was always about more than just the issues, by showing the cast in an “Ocean’s 11” like storyline, with Sarah Palin playing an unforgettable super sexy secret British Intelligence Agent.
4. Episode 704: I’m a Little Bit Country
The very vocal protestors and supporters of the Iraq War were bound to get their "South Park" due sooner or later, and this episode manages to, surprisingly, cater to neither side and never offer a solution but show the inherent stupidity of going to the extremes that people sometimes do. It also goes one step further by calling out some hypocrisy on the Founding Fathers’ side, showing Benjamin Franklin saying they should allow protestors while also going to war. “Saying one thing and doing another.” America is made up of both these people, Parker and Stone are saying, and trying to deny it in any way is just gonna get you nowhere.
3. Episode 1303: Margaritaville
In one of "South Park’s" most ambitious and rewarding episodes, they tackle the (then) impending economic crisis, as usual taking care to mercilessly attack both sides of the issues and leaving absolutely nobody blameless. From the parody of the incomprehensible complexity of the banks’ loaning system, to the stupidity of everyday Americans who complain about their financial problems while buying “Margaritavilles,” to those who speak of “the economy” like it’s some sentient super powerful being, even to the inherent dumbassery of the government itself (the Bailout! Scene is jaw-droppingly funny), no stone is left unturned and by the end everyone has received their just desserts. The story of Kyle the Jew speaking out against the authorities (paralleling the Jesus story) was just the icing on the cake.
2. Episode 1006: ManBearPig
Did Al Gore really think he was going to get away with it? Though at first glance it may seem like the episode is mocking global warming, the target is Al Gore himself and the huge head that erupts from his self-appointed crusade to be the savior of mankind from any outside threat, including “ManBearPig.” One of the running jokes of the episode is how Al Gore is always bothering the boys about “ManBearPig” awareness because he has no friends. Al Gore and ManBearPig even made an appearance later on in the series in “Imagination Land,” with Al Gore still putting on a cape and going on his own personal crusade, despite the fact that nobody cares any more.
1. Episode 808: Douche and Turd
This episode pretty much encompasses everything that makes a great "South Park" parody both hilarious and an instant classic. While tackling the whole idea of the importance of an individual vote it also managed to include parodies against a staggering range of subjects, from the 2000 presidential race with Al Gore and George W. Bush (the titular Douche and Turd), to the ridiculously hyperbolic “Vote or Die” campaign, to the head-scratching stupidity of PETA members, to the frustratingly useless/useful voting system, to the true hopelessness of a single vote to determine a majority among thousands. This episode took the subject and ran with it every which way, never stopping until the final few frames, where a majestically inspirational song informs us, “You have been the right to choose between a douche and a turd.” And as Stan learns, he should probably vote, because that’s the choice he’ll usually have to make anyway.
Check out the season premiere of "South Park" this Wednesday at 10PM E/P on Comedy Central. "South Park: The Complete Thirteenth Season" is available on DVD and Blu-Ray now.
– Thomas Anderson, aka MovieBuzzReviewDude. Check out his movie/media/popculture blog HERE.
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