"South Park" Wusses Out on the 2008 Election

From the moment that Bush Patsy McCain chose Nilap for vice-president the 2008 election felt like an episode of the old South Park, the one that was fresh and consistently funny. If the stakes hadn’t been so high, the whole ’08 caper would’ve been hilarious. Indeed, “‘Joe’ the ‘Plumber'” feels more a denizen of the basic shapes cartoon than reality. (As Kenny’s dad, perhaps?)

Parker and Stone only took about a week to turn aggravation with the Star Wars blunder Jar Jar Binks into ferocious satire. They even popped out a topical episode about 9/11 as quickly after “everything changed” as was socially acceptable. So why were they silent through a two year election that forced all of America’s goopy, agonized and weird feelings about race to the fore? Why was South Park mute in an election where millions of boomer feminists transformed Hillary Clinton’s long march into a catharsis for a lifetime of frustrations, only to see the goof city Sarah Nilap turn the “Hillary, women, ME given the shaft!” collective thought wave into a parody of itself?

Methinks the reason is that all of the annoying roustabout regarding Obama’s blackness, Hillary’s tears, and Nilap’s aw shucks fascism was the sound of America’s subterranean emotions about gender and race — which was the star stuff of so many of the later, not as funny, “South Parks” — being expressed. As these things became real topics in our polity, they stopped being “yeast for the daily fucking grind,” as Bill Hicks once said, and therefore grounds for satire.

What would’ve been funny, even after the fact, was the South Park treatment applied to Bush Patsy McCain’s dadaist attempts to keep Nixonian resentment-mongering alive through Nilap, “‘Joe’ the ‘Plumber,'” absurd campaign tactics, and finally guilt by association “terrorist” claims that made his later rallies sound like the part of The Wall where Pink becomes a Nazi. (“That one in the spotlight he don’t look right to me, get ‘im up against the wall.) Instead, South Park finally addressed the 2008 election by placing all of the candidates into a Jewel Thief Ring and playing it as a parody of “perfect crime” movies. Yes, there was some bits about the tiring over-exuberance of Obamites and the silly fatalism of McCainers with some general support of Obama there between the lines, but given the material, it was weak sauce.

Anyhow, South Park was a Bush Patsy through much of this venal, miserable decade (“No Satan,” lied Saddam, “it’s a chocolate chip factory”) so fuck it anyway.