South Park

In South Park’s Emmy award winning Raising the Bar episode, the obesity epidemic is present throughout the show. The special assistance that the obese people receive is discouraging to those who do not receive the same treatment. Makes one wonder why do they get priority seating for overindulging while others who are healthy do not. As we see from the tip assist, no matter how hard you fall you can get right back up with government assistance if you complain enough. Instead of manufacturing new inventions to fix preventable mishaps, government funds should be used for something more practical like educational programs specialized in health and nutrition, for example. Unfortunately, as South Park points out, America’s very own The Learning Channel network glorifies obese America with their hit show, Honey Boo Boo. At the same time shows like The Biggest Loser, Extreme Weight Loss as well as the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign serve as inspiration for people to be healthy and stay fit. Recently, we have been desensitized to the idea that being overweight is normal, but at the same time we know that there is room for improvement.

Director James Cameron’s random appearance is not that random as the episode’s title is a play on his film, Raising the Titanic. Also, when thinking of Cameron I think of Avatar. In this 2009 blockbuster movie, the deforestation of Pandora parallels to the deforestation happening on our very own planet. Just as Cameron points out the harmful effects of erosion on land, Parker and Stone’s Raising the Bar episode shows the adverse effects of obesity.

            In Crack Baby Athletic Association, Cartman makes a business off of fighting crack babies. This could be in reference to a real show a group of teenagers made in which they make homeless people fight each other. In both cases, the synopsis of the show is inhumane and disgusting, for lack of a better term. This continues on the idea from the previous episode that money can be made off of anything, even something so grotesque.

We see a different side of Kyle when he joins forces with Cartman to start Crack Baby Basketball, proof that greed can be contagious. Rather than sharing the money with the babies, they use it for outlandish things like KFC gravy in a hot tub. Earlier in the episode, we see them at Denny’s enjoying bacon in all of their food. The obesity epidemic we saw in Raising the Bar is continued in these two acts.

The episode takes a stab at the way the NCAA treats their players, or slaves as Cartman puts it. In a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, only 33% of poll takers support paying college athletes. Cartman is making a lot of money yet he refuses to give any to the people who brought that money in, which is the same issue with the Northwestern University football team mentioned in the Washington Post article. When I saw the original air date of CBAA, I was surprised to discover it aired nearly three years ago. This predicament of not giving players a peace of the pie has been an ongoing debate. I do think that student athletes should receive some of the college’s earnings because they are bringing a lot of publicity and money to the universities. Although they receive a scholarship, a stipend should also be provided to cover other costs including health insurance, books and brand new Jordans.

Margaritaville presents economy as a religion. South Park has hit a recession due to the ongoing unnecessary purchases that people are making. In order to live a normal life again, the people of South Park need a miracle. Kyle, a Jew, serves that purpose by paying everyone’s debts just as Jesus, also a Jew, paid for everyone’s sins, according to the Holy Bible.

Throughout the episode, Cartman tries to return an expensive Margaritaville mixer. This mixer symbolizes the credit that so many people owe, Randy included. So much credit is built up that in the end, Cartman breaks the mixer. This can be viewed as a person cutting up their credit card to avoid the temptation of swiping it with no money to back it up. It’s very clever how they were able to cross the timeless Biblical story of Jesus with the current economic crisis of today.

In all three episodes – Raising the Bar, Crack Baby Athletic Association, and Margaritaville – Trey Parker and Matt Stone expose an array of issues including an obese America, poor economy, greedy business owners and an unorganized U.S. Treasury running around like chickens with their heads cut off. As Dunphy has mentioned in Satire’s Brew, the way that many news outlets share their coverage do so in a left or right matter. The sides of the issue at hand can either be this or that, right or wrong, good or bad. What the South Park creators offer that these news stations do not is a ‘history repeats itself’ mentality. They are able to compare the issues of today with stories of the past. They are also able to foreshadow the future, as in the CBAA episode where the college athlete stipend debate still stands today. The aforementioned issues not only stay in their respective episodes but cross over to other South Park stories.


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