South Park: Safe Space Review


“The Internet made fun of me”

– Eric Cartman

South Park offers up its views on shaming and internet trolling in this weeks episode.

Cartman is fed up with being bullied for his weight and decides to go to PC Principle for help. PC Principle is perfect here and his solution to Cartman’s problem is to assign a student to run Cartman’s social media for him and filter out any negative comments, giving Cartman a breakdown of all his nice comments to help make him feel good about himself. Butters is of course the poor soul picked for the task, it was either this or two weeks detention, after all.

Randy meanwhile, besotted with the towns new Whole Foods store, is having shaming problems of his own. Whole Foods asks Randy if he would like to donate a dollar on top of his purchases to help feed starving children. Randy decides to decline the offer as he gives money to charities elsewhere. The cashier very politely “shames” Randy in increasingly embarrassing and ridiculous ways. From having to repeat himself to announcing into a microphone that “no, no I wont be donating a dollar to help starving kids”.

“So with the ice cream, the vodka, pizza pockets, and nothing for hungry kids, that’s $37.83.”

“So with the ice cream, the vodka, pizza pockets, and nothing for hungry kids, that’s $37.83.”

As with the first episode of the series, this week’s topic is seen from both sides. Cartman is at fault because of his, and PC Principle’s, refusal to just ignore his social media. PC Principle explodes at Mr Mackey when he suggests that Cartman not look at his twitter and not put pictures up that may make him a target. Whereas Randy is the victim to the passive aggressive cashier making him feel ashamed for refusing to do something that he has every right to refuse.

Not that both plots are at odds with one another, Randy’s story does mirror Cartman’s, both of them are fed up with being shamed and decide to find a way to protect them selves from their problems. It’s the massage in both these plots that are contradictory. Randy’s trying not to get attention as he is quietly dealing with the subtle but constant berating of the cashier which, by the way, is a spot on representation of a shamer. Cartman is making as much noise as possible; playing the victim and letting anyone around him know that he isn’t happy with how the internet is treating him, the message being if you don’t want to be shamed don’t tell the world to constantly to look at how “awesomely ripped and cool” you are, especially if you’re like Cartman.

Steven Segal teaching the kids about shaming

Steven Segal teaching the kids about shaming

Butters has become the go-to child at South Park Elementary, filtering the social media accounts of not just Cartman, but Vin Deisel, Steven Segal (who’s appearance and assembly to the school was side-splitting) among others. It’s in this storyline that Matt and Trey make a very astute point about the problems of shutting your self off from reality and choosing to only pay attention to the nice things people say. A point made oh-so-well in a Broadway number named “Safe Space”, complete with a music video with a dance number, hokey sets and “reality”, a man dressed as a Broadway villain top hat evil moustache et al.

safe space song and dance

Eventually Butters starts to lose his mind, sifting through all the hurtful things people say on the internet is too much for him. At one point Reality breaks into Butters’ bedroom and attacks him, Reality is annoyed because Butters is blocking him out from everyone’s lives. I wasn’t and still am not convinced that this was necessary, the reality metaphor was a little too on the nose and hammered home points that where made perfectly in the song thus becoming overkill and somewhat confusing, Reality was suddenly a character in the real world. In one of the few appearances by Stan and Kyle in this weeks episode, they try to help Butters and suggest that he just take the detention because sifting through all the internets negativity isn’t good for your health.

Butters and his newest client, Demi Lovato

Butters and his newest client, Demi Lovato

Randy and Cartman team up to take on shamers, parodying the charity pleas where a celebrity walks through a town in a third world country asking for just a few pounds/dollars a week. Randy tells the audience that just a few dollars a week adds up to quite a lot on money if you shop at Whole Foods as often as he does. To end the shaming they create #shamelessamerica.

I wish this weeks episode has chosen to focus on one side of the argument or the other since both were very funny and both had valid arguments but every time Cartman’s plot started to take the majority, Randy would counter act with an argument for the opposite. Even the message at the end of the episode was muddled, at an awareness raising event for #shamelessamerica Reality makes yet another appearance and blasts all of the attendees for shutting themselves off from reality and their pious behaviour about how it’s not right for anyone to judge them in a social media space, only to then to end the episode with the town hanging Reality, pretty much negating anything that the town might have learned.

Episodes: Series Ongoing (Episode 5 of Season 19, Episode 262 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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