South Park: #HolidayHolograms Review

South Park put on "The Washington Redskins Go F*ck Yourself Holiday Special" in its season finale. Here's our review...

While stalling on writing this South Park review, I typed Twitt.. and so on into my search bar a good five times. On the last visit, I was scrolling down my feed, but my eyes were just glazing over images and words — forming a hazy, indecipherable mess of #TortureOpinions, #PizzaHutBrandAds, links on links on top of images, Bill Cosby memes and Which Taylor Swift Pants Suit Suits You? quizzes.

Worst of all, I’d taken my eyes off what really mattered. Actually, you know what, I don’t know what matters anymore. I watched South Park’s season finale looking for a takeaway from an arc that introduced the real Lorde to the world and restored the Internet back to the people. But there is no big “I learned something today moment” for me. I’m all pooped out from finding the common threads throughout season 18 and commenting on it.  

Thankfully there were a few obvious points to be made in this episode, with Butters concluding that “the more connected we get the more alone we become” is a “kind of gay” way of thinking about our relationship to technology, even if gay is “wholesome.” And before the credits rolled to free our screens of PewDiePie and CartmanBrah, hopefully forever, Kyle learned that new trends will always penetrate the popular culture and as we get older we may not understand it, but we have to be accepting of it. Maybe the Internet is a truer artform, which allows us to find stars (like Justin Beiber!) instead of our celebrities being manufactured and marketed for the masses.

Again, all that was clearly laid out for us to bookend the episode. It’s the holidays after all! Matt Stone and Trey Parker wanted you to relax and enjoy their Christmas spectacular.

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Usually, if you wanted to kick around interchangeable jokes, you can head over to Family Guy for that. Matt and Trey would rather get a laugh out of you the hard way — look at the effort they put into the live-action ending of “Grounded Vindaloop.”

To close out 2014, they needed an episode where they could just comment on everything and “#HolidayHolograms” –much like last year’s Kanye West-centric finale–did so in a way that was easy to digest. It’s something South Park doesn’t do often — allow you to sit back and let the jokes glaze over you.

They really did save their best shots, literally and figuratively, for last. It all centers on Kyle’s perceived grandpa complex. Our popular culture lexicon moves at the speed of the Internet and it has a fourth-grader feeling left behind. Kyle isn’t wrong, though. The living room is dying and tablets and XXL iPhones are the culprit. So he sets out to do what NBC thinks a live-action Peter Pan production can do: #SaveTheLivingRoom.

I love that South Park was lampooning NBC’s crusade to keep live television relevant, and in turn ensuring the big cable companies remain profitable. Beyond that, they turned the finale into a hashtag-a-palooza in an effort to bring us back to the days when families would gather around the ol’ tube and watch Dr. Cliff Huxtable teach the youth of America valuable life lessons.

We’ll place Bill Cosby’s first South Park appearance on the back burner for now because I’m sure many found the secondary storyline falls into the “too soon” category. Last week, I said I was surprised Matt and Trey didn’t use the Grand Jury decision on the Mike Brown case and ensuing riots to show that we are nowhere near a post-racial America. This week, they didn’t dance around it: they came right out and said it. They used the white cops to comment on how police handle situations involving African Americans, including referencing the tragic deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner by yelling “shoot him and then choke him!” when Tupac’s hologram walked into the police station. As for Michael Jackson’s hologram it’s OK if he’s is mixed race… as long as the cop “only choked the black half.”

That kind of shock humor is what gets us “blumpkin catchers” talking in the social sphere. South Park’s social media campaign throughout the week got me excited about this star-studded episode — not their TV ads. And they really did create a beautifully ignorant holiday special we can talk about for many Christmases to come. Redskins. Iggy’s singing, sagging ass. Kurt Cobain and a shotgun. Elvis. Michael “The Original Peter Pan” Jackson. Bill Cosby luring Taylor Swift with a stiff “Jell-O” drink. They fit all that into roughly 20 minutes.

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It was incoherent, hilarious madness — its own artform. Matt and Trey actively went out of their way to see if they could put together an episode with almost no plot, sprinkle in outrageous faux-celebrity cameos, essentially throwing nonsense on your screen, just to see if they could “trendscend” the Internet.

They succeeded. When “The Washington Redskins Go F*ck Yourself Holiday Special” signed off, #IHateCartmanBrah was trending #1 in the United States on real-life Twitter.

The episode’s success–along with PewDiePie–we just need to accept. Blunt, vulgar humor can sometimes get a pretty direct point across too. The proof is in the pudding pop. 

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4 out of 5