South Park: Post Covid – Another moment, same jokes

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South Park has tweaked its formula in many ways over the years, and the current recipe suffers badly when stretched from twenty minutes to two hours. You can imagine that one of the running jokes of the Post Covid Specials is passable in a regular episode, but when it spans a feature film it hits the same note. again and again, you dare to lose interest.

Part of the problem is that there is no real development of any of the jokes – and I am taking advantage of it with good reason. You can see them pushed on the show like stakes, pulling things apart on their own without really caring about what’s going on around them or what they ended up going through. The first instance of each of the jokes is basically the same as the last.

What makes this particularly insulting is the structure of Post Covid in two-hour TV dramas. Asking your audience to tune in again, two weeks later, to basically have the exact same jokes as the first installment seems like an experiment on what little tinsel you need to get the attention of bettors.

I’m at the forefront of the joke discussion because South Park is, after all, a comedy. Still, it seems slightly dishonest to judge Post Covid as such. Like I said, the jokes are there, hammered into the story like stakes – maybe even more than we’ve established, since they seem to be the bare structure to which the rest of the series is. suspended.

More than anything, Post Covid transplants the established characters and setting of South Park into direct drama, with a few fossilized jokes lingering at the bottom of this unusual cocktail and occasionally rising to the surface. The plot is the kind of heightened reality one would expect from South Park, or even any cartoon, but it’s played out throughout – remarkably straight for something involving time travel.

This is all ultimately in the service of one of South Park’s uppercase messages, historically a major aspect of the show – where, at the end of the episode, one of the protagonists would quite literally state “you know i learned something today …”. Here, it’s just (minor spoiler alert) that Covid has been awful, so we should all let go. Commendable feeling, sounds awful like an excuse from people who spent two hours making the same joke about how Alexas is like cranky women.

Even the outright drama, however, appears to be a support system serving the central device of “here are the characters you know and love, doing (x)”. This is the big Post Covid special, after all, aren’t you excited? what will they do this time? The creators seem to think that this aspect has a lot more substance than it has, and you can practically feel them stop for the studio audience to clap when a slogan shows its ugly head, or when a character shows off. simply familiar appears.

(“Hey look, it’s Bart! And he does stuff!”)

And there is something of a gift in the fact that he now relies very heavily on his own internal canon. It’s beyond a little nod to the camera when Kenny inevitably dies, it’s now at the level of a parallel global story, like ours but markedly different, where Covid all started with Randy Marsh. fucking a pangolin – whatever Post Covid assumes its the public will be familiar with, probably correctly.

For a show that is – good God, twenty four now able to vote, drink, buy a gun, basically old enough to have a pretty good weekend in Vegas – that’s, if a rather lazy choice, at least understandable. Many fans will have grown up with it, some will have known it all their lives. It is, for better or for worse, a part of them. For the real obsessives, seeing their old fictitious friends again, reacting to the news, seems more than enough.

There is a larger discussion to be had here about so-called “parasocial relationships”: the one-sided relationships one can have with an actor, musician, or other celebrity, whose carefully curated and polished production is. by definition much more entertaining than boring normal people. And they ask for so much less too.

(As an internet personality that’s probably what I’m supposed to encourage – but for goodness sake if you haven’t recently, contact your friends and family and tell them you love them.)

As South Park: Post Covid itself goes – well, it’s a long-established franchise that is treading water. Well they could do it, given that they have received a series of fourteen other films by their benevolent teevee gods. It’s not like they need to produce something revolutionary to keep the regular bushels of money coming.

Much more than other longtime animated shows, South Park was ready to turn things around, as we established when we first arrived. But using a slight comedy veneer as a vehicle for commenting on current events is something they’ve been doing for a long time now (and hardly a formula exclusive to their show).

On the other hand, using their established cinematic universe – a phrase I make not like the rollout – as a basis for branching out into entirely different genres would be a new phase for South Park. The closest they came to was with their Halloween specials, like The Simpsons Horror Huts, an excuse to deploy non-canonical phantasmagoria, but even these weren’t a complete genre change.

Now, with an order of fourteen films to fill, we could well see them rushing headlong in this direction. However, they will struggle to find a raw material as important as a global pandemic. And even the Post Covid duology couldn’t make two hours of it on its own, taking inspiration from various other trends of the time (as well as Blade Runner’s Japanese-flavored billboards, a benchmark they seem a little bit like). too proud).

Perhaps most illustrative of Post Covid’s tendency to retain the various clowns of South Park as true dramatic characters – and obvious avenues of comedic potential being blithely left untapped – is the adult Cartman who converts to the Judaism. Kyle immediately suspects this is turning into something, a great final punchline after in the universe year accumulation, and the public probably does too.

Yet even that, the fundamentally ridiculous image of the anti-Semitic cartoon Cartman sporting a kippah, is ultimately played straight out. And when Cartman gets the bad future he deserves, in all fairness that doesn’t play out for the yuck either (as it has been). in the past) but rather like a ghost at the party, a dark, sobering moment in an otherwise happy ending.

Let’s not forget that it was Cartman who has always clearly been the flagship character of the series: an eight-year-old Archie Bunker whose fanaticism could be attributed to his youth (but still appreciated by true fanatics), a prototype for the many idi – raging comedic creations that followed in its wake, and at times the mouthpiece for all the moral lessons too spicy to presumably be given to Kyle. Of the four South Park protagonists, Everyman Stan is closest to the classic image of the main character, but Cartman, the most vivid token evil teammate, is surely the second close by. He’s definitely the one most people identify with, even if it’s kind of a guilty pleasure. And this is the character that the best future of Post Covid, where all has gone well, is putting down.

As a narrative choice, this is something that comes out of old morality games – bad guys are punished for their misdeeds and good guys are rewarded. But given the complicated path Cartman takes through Post Covid, calling him ‘bad guy’ on that basis is a bit simplistic. It can alone makes sense to consider the show as a whole, with the quarter-century of intrigue that has built up in his eight-year-old body (during which, yes, he recorded a number of atrocities). And here, again, we come back to Post Covid’s weird stance, not only relying heavily on all that earlier canon, but being absolutely incomprehensible without it.

You’ve seen me shy away from the phrase “cinematic universe,” but that’s all too clearly what’s going on here – especially with the raft of twenty more films to come. Gone are the days when South Park was the cultural rebel, throwing a stop-motion snook at authority. Now, he is the establishment and its followers revere its canon as religiously as a classic Ovid’s Metamorphoses would, as much as it could ever want to pretend it’s the silly paper doll show over fart jokes. Like any young person in his twenties, he finds himself somewhat out of place.

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