It was bound to happen. On "Raising the Bar," South Park tackled the latest reality TV abomination thrust upon the nation: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. And, lo, was it great.
Starting with Cartman accepting that he is, indeed, fat was excellent. Maybe he’s going to change his ways? Nnnnnope. Instead, he became a Rascal-riding slob, thinking he had a right for the world to adapt to him because of his own personal bad choices. Or at least that certainly seemed like the message that came across.
And, of course, there was the Honey Boo Boo parody. Is it possibly in bad taste to mock a child? Sure. But at some point, there’s got to be someone who sits down and says that parading a little girl around on TV is just not something we as a society should be doing.
Her mom sure isn’t the one stopping this clown show, and she was raked over the coals by the writers too. Lest it come across that this was all dour social satire, there was great comedy in watching Cartman on a scooter fighting Honey Boo Boo, freshly transplanted with a pig heart thanks to too much Red Bull and Mountain Dew, in a giant pile of spaghetti.
And then Michelle Obama punched Cartman in the face in the name of fighting childhood obesity. That's one way to solve the problem.
The show had a mixed message on James Cameron of all people, seen here as the defender of all that is good, “raising the bar” on what people find acceptable in what winds up here to be a literal sense. He came across a pompous blowhard, sure, but he ultimately did “raise the bar.” Oh, and he has an awesome theme song. Plus, he did direct Terminator 2. I never saw Titanic or Avatar because I am massively un-hip.
Cartman-as-reality-TV-star served as a great representation of these buffoons that keep getting high ratings. Sure, we can pity them for being taken advantage of, that we’re laughing at them, not with them.
But at the end of the day there’s still something wrong with them, and they also were the ones who signed on the dotted lines to trump themselves up like this to the world. There’s a reason why I don’t watch this garbage: because I know I’m better than that, to not support that kind of filth. I don’t even want to mock it, to not even give it credence. There’s no good reason.
The episode also posits a fairly interesting hypothesis through some meta-commentary by Kyle, that maybe South Park is the reason why the bar for acceptable content has been lowered so much. I think it’s an interesting idea because the media landscape has changed so much because due to the series. It has definitely altered what is acceptable on basic cable, instead of being restricted to HBO and Showtime.
But what Matt Stone and Trey Parker have done is to use their platform to serve as a way to comment on modern issues and culture, to point out the ridiculousness of others while also taking things to a new level of absurdity themselves. They’ve been a significant part of the debate around Islam in the media. They actually have something to say besides profiting off of the follies of people just trying to get on television. This show is filthy, but its message is not. If anything, now we’re not kidding ourselves as much when it comes to profanity thanks to the show.
Besides, if anyone on Comedy Central needs to apologize for lowering the bar, it’s clearly Tosh.0. This show actually has something to say amongst its ridiculousness, and along the way, cartoon children can fight in spaghetti too. That’s the kind of world I want to live in, where I can have both.
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