Generation South Park 3: Cartman Gives Wendy The Glenn Beck Treatment
Click here for the previous installments of Chris Yogerst’s “Generation South Park” series.
[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.”
Sure, 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.”