South Park Season 21, Episode 9: “Super Hard PCness”
“Super Hard PCness” is a refreshing callback 18 years in the making. This episode is packed full of allusions and hints all relating back to South Park’s first movie South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut. The plots are fairly similar, with a lot of similar plot beats happening in both the movie and the episode.
In the 1999 feature-length film, Kyle Broflovski’s mom blames all of Canada for the way a crass movie based on their most popular television show affects her oldest son. Terrance and Phillip, the show that gets a feature length adaption, is where Canada’s most famous comedians fart on people for laughs. Mrs. Broflovski organizes a coalition of concerned mothers, Mothers Against Canada, to combat the vulgarity, and they even reach the ear of President Bill Clinton. When the Canadians refuse to cooperate with the president’s plea to give up on Terrance and Phillip, the two countries go to war. In the end, Mrs. Broflovski learns that she shouldn’t blame other countries and their cultural exports for her own failings as a parent.
This time around in 2017, it’s not angry mothers out to censor entertainment but millennials. After not finding the new Terrance and Phillip Netflix show as funny as Heidi, Cartman and the rest of his friends, Kyle gives himself a bit of a makeover. He takes off his Terrance and Phillip shirt to put on a new one under his coat. He also takes off his hat to show that his hair is still styled from when he gelled and combed it to impress Heidi. Now Kyle takes a pair of clippers to his hair, literally shedding the part of him that was trying to impress Cartman’s girlfriend. Kyle then organizes a group of young people to stop Terrance and Philip’s new Netflix show. Millennials Against Canada storms the set of the show to shut it down. But the reason why is where “Super Hard PCness” turns away from the movie.
Instead of promoting a message about not using entertainment (Terrance and Philip acting as a loose allegory for South Park) as a scapegoat to blame misbehavior on, this episode takes a more critical eye to the role of the show in promoting undesirable behavior. What prompts Kyle to reject this show is seeing how a girl he had a crush on now is practically another Cartman, laughing right along with him as minorities are repeatedly farted on by a pair of tired comedians telling the same jokes into their old age.
Even though a more critical eye is turned toward the show’s influence on people, South Park still sticks to its ideals. Kyle takes his concerns to the new vice principal of the school, Strong Woman. After telling Vice Principal Woman about his concerns, she starts to talk to Kyle about the dangers of making scapegoats out of cartoons to cover for personal failings.
Complicating matters at the school are PC Principal’s feelings for his subordinate. He tries to suppress his feelings, because having feelings for someone who is your subordinate in a professional standing is something PC culture deems as being totally inappropriate. This sets up an interesting dynamic that poises South Park for some great commentary on the wave of recent high profile sexual assault cases happening in the news.
All in all, this is a solid episode that helps to show that the answers to some of life’s hard problems can change as time goes by. The differences from the film’s sequence of events highlight changes in both society and changes in South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Are they, like Kyle, trying to give their show an internal makeover? Or, like PC Principal, do they find themselves drawn to that which society deems inappropriate?
Featured image from South Park Archives
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