South Park: Stunning and Brave Review

“Oh sweet! You’re PC too, brah!?”

 South Park is back. And, as with every first episode of a season, I wondered what controversy would be chosen to pick on for their season opener. Turns out that Matt and Trey didn’t really pick a topic to destroy this time around.

The theme of this week’s episode was Political Correctness in general; a pretty big subject and something South Park has repeatedly come under fire for due to their lack of conformity over the years.

PC Principal

PC Principal

The episode starts with Mr. Mackey revealing that Principal Victoria has been fired due to accusations of rape, referred to here as a “Hot Cosby”, the first of many, many references to issues that have been in the news since the last season. So the school have hired a new Principal. Enter PC Principal (no joke his actual name is PC Principal) and he’s come to teach South Park Elementary a lesson. The first thing he says when he walks through the doors into the PTA meeting is “I Googled South Park, and I can’t believe the S@!$ you’ve been getting away with”; South Park has criticised others a lot over the years and it seems that it’s finally time for them to turn their eye upon themselves. PC Principal actually points out several of the shows more controversial moments in his speech to the school, recalling the time Mr. Garrison said women without wombs should be aids tested, and pointing out the fact that the only black student in the school is Token. It’s not the usual premise but you’ve got to give them credit for that.

PC Principal takes action on Kyle for saying that he doesn’t agree with people saying Caitlin Jenner, formerly Bruce Jenner, is Stunning and Brave. Kyle’s assertion is that while he supports the choices Caitlin made to transition (change sexes), he doesn’t have to agree that he likes her as a person. This is met by PC Principal flipping out, calling Kyle a transgenderist and giving him detention. Sadly, this isn’t something the show made up either, people have been attacked with accusations of bigotry for saying anything against Caitlin Jenner as a person.

Cartman before taking on PC Principal

Cartman before taking on PC Principal

While the episode isn’t really a critique or attack on political correctness itself, PC Principal is portrayed as a fraternity “brah”, a fraternity that Randy Marsh accidently finds himself being inducted into, because it’s Randy and watching him “check people’s privileges” as a drunken fraternity initiation test is incredibly funny. As expected, the frat is filled of big, boisterous and oftentimes bullying members being, well…bros, shouting everyone down to get their views across. Strange as it may seem, this is actually a really clever analogy for the online social justice warriors (people who, in defence of something they deem to be offensive or politically incorrect, can more often than not be more aggressive and belligerent in their quest than the person who caused the offence); they’re the sort of people who throw “how dare you?” and “how small minded are you?” out before launching into a tirade on fairness and equality. A group very much like rowdy fraternity members. At one point, PC Principal even beats Cartman to within an inch of his life after using the term “Spokesman” instead of “Spokesperson”.

Cartman, in a strange turn of events, gives in to PC Principal and decides to not fight because it would be much easier to just take his detention and move on. With south park constantly under fire you can see the honesty in his words, with this Matt and Trey are basically saying the sad truth that comedians are better off just holding your hands up and apologising because defending yourself causes more hassle than it’s worth, there is no point in fighting some causes.

Cartman after taking on PC Principal

Cartman after taking on PC Principal

Unlike most South Park episodes, there really isn’t a point where the boys decide to come down on one side of an argument or the other. They end up straight down the middle with Kyle’s closing line being “we all lost, and you won”, admitting that perhaps they need to look at themselves and what they say more carefully at times. Then, in a rather epic and hilarious battle, Cartman sends in pregnant Mexican women chasing tacos fired from a cannon into a battle with the PC frat house, along with sending Syrian Refugee children being chased by ex-spokesman for Subway Jared Fogel and topped off by sending in Asian drivers to crash into the building. This battle is stopped with Kyle stating that we need politically incorrect humour, as it’s actually a really effective way of drawing attention to problems.

While the PC frat boy joke started to wear thin quite quickly, luckily Randy Marsh was on hand to remedy this. This week’s South Park took on some big ideas and, in a way the show hasn’t before, was very self aware. Perhaps not the funniest of season openers but it is easily one of the most original episodes the show has had. While the show’s last season took a serialised approach to storytelling, it will be interesting to see whether the more progressive views brought up in this episode continue throughout the season. As Cartman says “PC Principal is here to stay”.

Kyle gets his privilege checked

Kyle gets his privilege checked

Episodes: Series Ongoing (Episode 1 of Season 19, Episode 258 Overall)

Genre: Animation / Sitcom

Original Channel: Comedy Central

So what do you think? Have a think and let us know in the comments section below.

– Dan P



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