South Park: #Rehash Review

South Park takes some shots at video game commentary and Let's Plays in this week's episode, "#Rehash."

Think back to simpler times, when you’d blow into the cartridge of South Park Rally before cramming it into your Nintendo 64. The uncomfortable clack of hard plastic and microchips, a necessary union, was like the first few discordant notes from an opening song of a rock album before the soothing melodies allow you to drift away.

Lately, the noises that accompany gameplay are taking away from the solitude that gaming once stood for. Console wars dirtied our collective conscience with desires of betrayal–I too once switched from PlayStation to Xbox–but even the talk of switching consoles that troubled us during the great Xbox 360 vs. PS3 debate, and more recently the Xbox One vs. PS4 slugfest, seems ancient.

Gaming has changed. It’s for the masses now. The thing I absolutely fucking hated as a kid more than anything, sitting around watching while my friends played a “shoot ‘em up” video game without me, is now considered entertainment. Take League of Legends. More people tuned in to watch the finals than baseball’s World Series. ARENAS sell out to watch people play the game on giant video screens.

That’s all great for the industry and if you’re into sitting around watching people play video games, more power to you. Where I’m losing it, and where Matt Stone and Trey Parker chose to jump into the topic in South Park’s latest effort “#Rehash,” is the commentary. No, not normal broadcasting, but whatever comes out of the mouth of YouTube user/faux-celebrity PewDiePie.

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As I understand it, he comments on video games while making the world’s most obnoxious sounds, gaining tons of followers and generating an absurd amount of ad money in the process. Being an obnoxious asshole and making a ton of money doing it? Sounds like something Eric Cartman can get into.

While Cartman is off speaking nonsense into his laptop camera, Kyle wants to play Call of Duty Modern Civil Warfare Ghosts, or whatever the hell is out these days, with Ike. Problem is Ike would rather watch the rehash than play.

It all comes back to the idea that we’re losing originality in the pop culture sphere. Video games have taken a long, confusing road to becoming spectacles. Colleges are starting to have video game teams with scholarships for christ sake. When we’re just rehashing a new Call of Duty every year and Halo 69 is hitting shelves whenever because you’ll go buy it anyway, commenters like PewDiePie starts to seem like a pretty fresh spin on a tired gaming cycle.

And oh lord, don’t get me started on Lorde. The real-life Lorde is the anti-diva, a young loner fish stuck in a sea of protruding butts and glittery pop hooks sharp enough to reel in the masses. We love Lorde because she doesn’t have to get on stage and furiously rub her clit like Iggs or Miles or the next diva up.

Randy (Lorde) is our only real hope. There is still originality to be had. Leave Michael Jackson and Tupac to their eternal resting place — no need to artificially revive talent. Plenty of it walks on this earth. And that brings us to what South Park is trying to do. Continuity has mostly been a welcomed crutch this season. However, I doubt the #Rehash, a whole season of callbacks, was leading to this one big meta joke. What is here though is an episode that throws a lot of fun ideas at us with nothing to balance them out. The point they wanted to make is noted, but all this newfangled technology gets in the way.

Matt and Trey made a lot of noise for a little payoff. It makes me yearn for the old days. When I was always “feeling good on a Wednesday.” Ya. Ya. Ya.

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Maybe Next Week?

As much as I love seeing Randy rub his nonexistent clit, I’m shocked that with two weeks to prepare, Matt and Trey decided to stay as far away from the events in Ferguson as possible. Maybe it’s too soon, maybe they’ll bring it up next week, maybe they said all they needed to with last season’s George Zimmerman episode. Still, it’s surprising to see them back down on the topic of race, which they’ve never shied away from before, especially something of this magnitude.

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2.5 out of 5