Tonight's new South Park episode skewered Internet fads, also known as memes, by perfectly satirizing our Web generation's obsession with trends such as "Tebowing". The show had their own version - Faith Hilling and Taylor Swifting.
Earlier this month, in the first episode of South Park's 16th season, the Colorado kids poked fun at the TSA and their aggressive man-handling; then South Park exposed the gold-buying market like a potty-mouthed 60 Minutes investigative report; and tonight, in a magnificent episode sure to delight any online addict, the Comedy Central show turned to memes, those Internet fads you can't help but notice, mainly due to those photos appearing in your Facebook feed.
What was truly inventive about the beginning of this episode was the GOP presidential debate scenes: we're at a debate with Gingrich, Santorum, Romney and Paul, and all of their dialogue was actually real things they said at debates, recorded and overlaid their cartoon representations. It was unlike anything I've seen in animated shows in recent memory. And their choice of quotes was truly rib-tickling satisfying.
The South Park boys decide to crash the debate by Faith Hilling - Cartman jumps on stag and holds his shirt out to resemble nipples. Apparently, even Kobe Bryant does it (cut to pic of the basketball player airing out his jersey, somewhat looking like a Faith Hill move). It's not clear why Faith Hill has been targeted for this joke, am I missing something? And yes, she's the U.S. country star known for singing the intro to Monday Night Football.
What soon follows is an in-depth look at memes and how one "expert" perceives their widespread adoption as dangerous, "like a loaded gun!" he screams. One line stands out from the first half, "As Faith Hilling becomes more and more popular, the question on everyone's mind - who will be the first to die doing it?"
It sounds eerily like some news reports on planking or car surfing, both which could have dire consequences for the clumsy and careless. These South Park memes are harmless, and get silly, as you'd expect from Trey Parker and Matt Stone: Taylor Swifting involves pulling down your pants and rubbing your bum on the ground like a dog trying to wipe itself. Of course, a rival kid gang tries to out-meme Cartman and the crew, resulting in a battle of who's the most popular - something you might see in online communities like 4chan. It's all about who's got the latest trend first.
The show then touches on the most surprisingly popular recent meme of 2012 - cat-breading, a topic I reported on earlier this year. Some serious-looking guys in the show believe cat-breading means cats have evolved to adopt and invent memes, a cultural advancement that may pit cat vs. human. There are some priceless scenes with YouTube cats crowing out guttural noises resembling a growling "Ol Long Johnson." Had to be there.
Since South Park shows are often quickly watchable on services such as iTunes, I won't ruin the ending, but let's just say those great authentic GOP debates make a reappearance and Faith Hilling starts to infect the Republican candidates...darn, said to much. But it's hard not to share some sharp satirical jabs perpetrated by some of the best comedic writers in the business.
South Park isn't for everyone, thanks to its vulgarity and sophomoric cartoon design bound to turn off those in love with IRL shows. But the creators continue to take on the issues affecting us a mere two months ago, as if Parker and Stone are swimming around the memes on Reddit and looking for what everyday geekerati are talking about.
I have high hopes for this 16th season. South Park is off to a five-star beginning.