South Park: Sponsored Content Review

Jimmy is on a mission to save the publishing industry in the latest episode of South Park. Here's our (non-sponsored) review.

This South Park review is not brought to you by State Farm.

However, I can’t guarantee that a dick pill ad won’t seep through your AdBlock software, or each link click will lead to several more popups, only to have you land on a slideshow for the WORST celebrity plastic surgeries. It’s something both you and I have to put up with on a daily basis as we willingly dive into the wormhole that is the internet. Pray we don’t get lost in the “bullshit” all you want, but we created this culture, where reading a newspaper or magazine is a chore for some and sweet relief for others. Don’t blame the “Reality” of the publishing world in 2015, that fucker was hanged weeks ago.  

South Park’s 19th season is strung together by a distortion of reality and front and center in “Sponsored Content,” as Matt and Trey open up a larger conspiracy, are the cracks in PC Principal’s armour. The gladiator for the underprivileged and marginalized wages war on the “R” word (“retarded” not “reality,” though a case can be made for either one) and vows to censor Jimmy’s prized elementary school newspaper, which becomes a no-nonsense publication the town can rally around. These two ideas may not seem interconnected at first glance, but they come together as South Park attempts to ensure us that two seasons of continuity will pay off in a big way.

What will keep me strong in these dark times is knowing that Jimmy insists his school paper remain ad-free and editorial independent. He’s the beacon of hope in the publishing field. “Sponsored Content” hits all the right notes because Matt and Trey approach the dynamic between the readers, publishers, and advertisers in a way that’s painfully accurate (did you not notice the links, ads, and sponsored content on this and every other website that wants to stay in business?) and, on a larger scale, indicative of how everyone wants to be able to control the message to the public.

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Getting to the point where South Park residents like Stephen Stotch are disgusted with the messages being fed to them was long in the making. Last season, it was virtual reality vindaloops, freemium gaming, and people commenting on videos about people commenting on video games they’re not playing (sigh) that turned what was a town of simpletons into an attention-deficit disorder wonderland. Going back to the ‘80s and ‘90s, video games represented our constantly evolving gateway to the future. Games are a fun and engaging way to get children invested in technology, which continues in this generation. If I had a dollar for every time someone mentioned that their infant is iPad-literate, I could buy a majority stake in Apple.

Gaming, however, was merely scratching the surface of South Park’s technological nightmare.

Naturally, Matt and Trey’s interest in exploring the human relationship with machine spilled over into everyday life this season; Online PC culture manifested in the form of the buff, intellectual (and physical) hardass principal; Yelp ruined real restaurants; online personas needed a real-life safe space; and finally the idea that someone, or something, is controlling things we see online and in real life.

Where I think Matt and Trey will ultimately get to as they close out a masterful 19th season is that we’re the culprit for the highjacking our individuality. We’ve allowed the “Pussy Crushing” frat boys to act as a singular voice on certain social issues. With all their hooting and hollering, how could anyone hear another point of view? Our desire to immerse ourselves in technology has led to these pre-programmed lives where the internet is moving so fast that we don’t have time to sit and assess whether we’re getting unbiased reporting or the public is keeping the fifth estate in check.

In drowning out what we don’t like around us, it’s opened us up to a new enemy of humanity, one that looks awfully familiar in the mirror. 

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4 out of 5