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Generation South Park 3: Cartman Gives Wendy The Glenn Beck Treatment

November 16, 2009


Click here for the previous installments of Chris Yogerst’s “Generation South Park” series.

After the latest episode of South Park we know plenty of the show’s fans on the Left are saying “SEE, SOUTH PARK ISN’T CONSERVATIVE!!”

[Editor’s Note: Chris is right. The night this new episode ran I spammed a comment that was submitted making this point. The reason it didn’t get through moderation: It started out with profanity insulting Chris.]

However, it is easy to write off these “gotcha” attempts when we look into this episode a little more and note its importance to Generation Y Conservatism.

South Park is indeed a largely libertarian show. Yet Gen Y Conservatism has a solid foot standing in the libertarian movement. This sense of neutrality allows both South Park and Gen Y Conservatives alike to raise questions about ideas and people in any political movement, including their own. It allows ideas of freedom to be considered by those who aren’t listening to talk radio and Fox News.

Wednesday’s South Park was aimed at Glenn Beck. Eric Cartman, obviously inspired by Beck, takes over the school’s morning announcements and turns it into his own televised morning show. Cartman is similar to Beck in his mannerisms, emotional presentation, and even his habit of walking around the set. Here is an excerpt from one of Cartman’s morning announcements:

“Good morning, South Park Elementary. These are the morning announcements, and I am Eric Cartman -… This school is transforming into something very bad. And why? Because we have leadership that doesn’t care. I’m talking, of course, about our student body president, Wendy Testaburger-… Our school is turning this whole place into communist Russia. It’s not a coincidence that once Wendy took office, this school started coming apart at the seams. Your teachers don’t want to tell you but they’re scared and they should be because the very fabric of this elementary school is tearing from all corners. Oh, jeez. But hey, I’m just a normal kid like you, and I ask questions. And because I ask questions, I come under scrutiny.”

glenn beckSure, South Park went after Glenn Beck, but only to a point. That doesn’t mean it is now catering to the Left. Many center-left fans of the show will try to believe that it is now “wising up” and going after conservatives (based on the misconception that Beck is a conservative.) While South Park generally targets the Left, it is not afraid to go after others when there is satire to be had. This mentality is at the heart of Gen Y Conservatism’s political thought process as we are not afraid to put a critical eye on anything.

South Park accurately portrayed Cartman as “just a student” like Beck is “just a guy.” The only thing in question here is Cartman’s hyperbolic nature and what it spawns (unnecessary fear portrayed in the show by the always gullible Butters.) Instead of diving into Cartman’s accusations of socialism as right or wrong South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone turn it into a play on James Cameron’s overpriced new film Avatar. They spin it into joke about killing Smurfs — thus avoiding political criticism (of both Cartman and Beck.) They had the opportunity to question Beck’s politics by having Cartman go down in flames but he doesn’t.  It turns out he was right and Wendy was a socialist (in a silly contradictory reference to Sarah Palin) who killed the entire race of Smurfs to get more money for the school.

In the end, South Park’s direct political references fizzle out.  It is set up perfectly for us to believe Cartman is Beck (antagonist) and Wendy is Obama (protagonist), which would cater to the left of center fans.  However, in true South Park fashion the end gives us a drastic spin that shows the brilliance of the show. Cartman is no longer Beck when Wendy is no longer a stand in for Obama which occurs when Wendy turns into a comically socialist Sarah Palin figure.

This type of political commentary allows South Park’s true views to fly under the radar in order to engage both the Left and Right. Gen Y Conservatism does the same thing. We will discuss this in part 4 of “Generation South Park.”

Update: Thanks to Bob Parks at his must-read blog Black and Right for the link.

  1. jeff permalink
    November 16, 2009 12:36 pm

    This episode just left me incredibly confused. I couldn’t tell if was political or just a set up to make fun of Avatar.

  2. David Forsmark permalink
    November 16, 2009 1:37 pm

    The Avatar is just Dances with Wolves with Smurfs punchline was a scream.

  3. fozzy permalink
    November 16, 2009 4:26 pm

    I think the whole point of this episode was that Wendy was Sarah Palin. You don’t have to be a Palin fan to think that the attacks have been way over the top, and that’s what happened in this episode. Cartman keeps piling on bizarre and vulgar allegations against Wendy until she quits in disgust, then makes a pile of money with her book, “Going Rogue with Smurfs.”

    They made Cartman into Glenn Beck just because he’s so easy to spoof.

  4. James permalink
    November 17, 2009 4:05 am

    Glenn should be very happy they made an episode exclusively for him. It legitimizes the man, points out his astronomical popularity, and may very well even increase it…

    • Bubba4 permalink
      November 23, 2009 2:33 pm

      huh? It’s making fun of his ridiculous, conspiracy theory insanity and the intellectually dishonest arguments.

      Is calling a crazy person crazy a way to legitimize them?

  5. peachey permalink
    November 17, 2009 11:06 am

    You know that you have hit the big time or a giant nerve when you become the target.Glenn’s audience will continue to grow. I have neighbor’s that were Democrats, now tuning into Beck because they feel a kinship and having a growing agreement with his analysis of the dangers in this country. Also, union’s here in California are having a real problem convincing their membership of the direction that the union is moving toward. There is a significant and growing dissent among the membership, apparently due to them watching Glenn Beck. You can see that a Harvard education is not needed for impact and change.

  6. RyanB permalink
    November 17, 2009 1:49 pm

    I think you missed a few points in your analysis, Chris.

    Instead of directly assailing Glenn Beck’s politics, they instead use metaphor. The metaphor is that Cartman(Beck) constructs an alternate reality in which Wendy (Obama) is killing Smurfs for her own greed. Cartmen(Beck) then uses false claims, fear, and misinformation to get guillible Butters and auxiliary characters (Tea Party Movement) to protest at Wendy’s house and, more importantly, buy his merchandise. This is parodying Beck’s own constructed false reality in which he creates and spreads on TV, radio, and books.

    It should be noted that many of the more straight, logical characters (Stan and Kyle) think that Cartman is being manipulative and moronic.

    Wendy then capitalizes on the false reality created by Cartmen (which she can then sell to the people who already believe it) by producing her own book and putting Cartman in charge. This is to parody Sarah Palin (obviously).

    Cartman has not yet left the Beck construct, but the writers put Cartman(Beck) in the position of real power. This takes jabs at 2 kinds of people; 1) ones who believe that the president can do anything at anytime and don’t understand separation of powers (Huffington Post), 2) Blowhard commentators of all colors who would flounder in any real position of power.

    I do think you are right that South Park’s politics tend to be libertarian, however the strongest theme in the show is anti-ideological, especially of those who take it to the extreme, whether it be to the left (dirty hippies, environmentalists) or the right (Glenn Beck).

  7. In the Know permalink
    November 17, 2009 2:19 pm

    I think you are missing the point of South Park. Mr. Parker and Mr. Stone are equal opportunity offenders. They will take current events and ridicule them through parody. They are comedic opportunists who profit from the complacency of American youth. We have a destructive generation that has an entitlement mentality. They are aggressively self-centered and are only motivated to act on something when they stand to gain individually. They would be more accurately classified as capitalist/anarchists with little or no moral compass. They lack compassion and empathy, very similar to a sociopath. Why else would social networking sites be so popular. It’s all about them, the individual, being able to display themselves. Let’s face it, they have been taught that they are all superstars in school. Have you been to a public school lately? South Park takes advantage of that mentality. It doesn’t matter to our youth who gets targeted, as long as it’s not them. Popular comedy ridicules people presently. No one asks “How would you feel if they said that about you?”. South Park exploits that missing boundry.

    • Bubba4 permalink
      November 23, 2009 2:37 pm

      christ…it’s a cartoon that was originally made with stop motion construction paper…

      South Park isn’t engineered to take advantage of people and exploit something…it’s a tv show for entertainment. You either watch it and enjoy it or you don’t.

      Politics is only one dimension of life…

      • November 24, 2009 4:56 am

        If your reference to Jesus is prayerful, fair enough. Otherwise please stick to non-offensive intros like “My, My!” as in ‘My, my …it’s a cartoon’. Thank you.

      • In the Know permalink
        November 24, 2009 9:16 am

        That was my point. It is apolitical. Please brush up on your reading comprehension. You clearly did not understand the term “exploit” and its usage.

  8. Buckleyfan permalink
    November 28, 2009 6:05 pm

    Late to the party… remember ‘Cartoon Wars?’ On the surface it was just a brutal thrashing of “Family Guy,” but the real target of the episode was the Western world’s (particularly Comedy Central’s) cowardice in the face of radical Islam. Fox censoring Family Guy was an allegory for Comedy Central refusing to allow Parker and Stone to animate Mohammad. The point is hammered home in the episode’s finale where they go out of their way to mock Jesus to show that the network had no problems with an unflattering portrayal of any other religious figure.

    fozzy hit the nail on the head up there; this episode is more about Palin.


  1. Generation South Park, Part 2: Stan Takes On Sissy Environmentalists « NewsReal Blog
  2. Cartman Goes Beck | Black & Right
  3. Generation South Park, Part 4: The Rise of Stealth Conservatism « NewsReal Blog

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