“South Park” at Its Best: Amazon, Drones, Privacy and Pubes – Ed Martin

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Warning: If you are easily offended by crude or rude terms describing various areas of the human body you may wish not to read this column, although it doesn’t contain anything that wasn’t said (or shown!) in the episode I am writing about.

Comedy Central’s “South Park” last week continued its best season in years with a genius installment that dared to go where almost nobody will, shining a light on the absolute destruction in the digital age of personal privacy, calling for an end to the madness of drone ubiquity before it’s too late, and also the taking to task of the relatively recent, media-fueled obsession with full body hair removal. Because what would a great “South Park” episode be without a subplot involving one of those intimate subjects about which Cartman loves to expound?

In the episode, a very bored Cartman learns that Butters’ dad has a personal drone and instantly takes control of it over the objections of his friend. In no time at all he has the drone hovering outside the bedroom windows of various South Park residents, but when it gets to his friend Craig’s house Cartman is suddenly in heaven. Craig’s mother is undressing in her second floor window, unaware that the drone is shooting video of her naked body and documenting every inch of her abundant public hair, which she does not trim.

“Oh my God!” Cartman cries. “We’ve got full bush!” He wastes no time putting the footage on YouTube, where to the horror of Craig and his family it gets over 300 million views.

Issues involving the violation of personal privacy that drones will one day be at the center of (if they aren’t already) and that have become a reality of life in the Internet era become a hot topic among Cartman and his buddies. Sensitive Kyle, for example, doesn’t want to see the footage of Craig’s mom if it was taken without her permission. All the baffled Butters can say is, “That poor lady! Her vagina is everywhere!”

Cartman, on the other hand, is his usual brutal, matter-of-fact self, telling Butters that privacy is a thing of the past. “Your wiener, my balls … they’re public domain!” he declares. “You can get on the Internet and look at that chick from ‘The Hunger Games’ butthole!”

Soon the skies above the title town are filled with drones: First several personal drones, then even more neighborhood-watch drones to protect people from the personal drones, and then a fleet of police drones to keep the other drones in order. Tellingly, most of the neighborhood-watch drones enable residents to happily observe each other having sex via video technology.

At a town meeting about the drones, one resident bemoans the fact that “ Anyone can buy a drone on Amazon for $200 !”

Veering into more sensitive territory, one of the police drones shoots down a drone that happens to be black. Riots follow, with other personal use drones protesting the aggression of the police drones. During the chaos two drones break into an electronics store and steal a television set.

Meanwhile, Craig’s mom unwittingly becomes something of a national celebrity and ABC News’ “20/20” comes to town to interview her. “Tonight on ‘20/20,’ a town in crisis over the matter of privacy,” the show’s announcer declares. Craig’s mom is referred to as the “mom behind the bush.”

“Where does it stop?” Craig’s overwhelmed mother asks.

“It just keeps going on and on,” the interviewer says of the story, “kind of like your … it goes outside what most people would call acceptable.”

Craig’s mom cuts him off, unable to contain her fury. “Have you ever seen pictures of naked women before 2005?” she asks.

Meanwhile, Butters doesn’t know how much more drone traffic he can take. Speaking for millions of Americans he cries, “I don’t want all these drones everywhere! Nobody does!”

Cartman, the one who started it all, knows how to stop the madness. “Jennifer Lawrence’s butthole didn’t take a picture of itself,” he asserts. “It started with her! Just like this started with you,” he adds, affixing the blame on the blameless Butters.

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned it’s that drones can’t resist Craig’s mom,” he continues. Before long he has dressed up a sex doll to look like Craig’s mother, complete with an exaggerated amount of pubic hair, and has tied it to a rope dangling from a drone. As the doll-dangling drone flies over “South Park” all of the drones stop what they are doing and follow it out of town, never to return.

As with every great episode of “South Park” this one raises important questions while it entertains. Are human beings still free thinkers? Do they no longer care about privacy? Does traditional and/or social media control their every act and thought, right down to the most intimate aspects of personal grooming? Are they as vapid as a day spent browsing certain hugely popular Web sites and following Twitter feeds would suggest? Does anyone really want drones filling the skies, even if they are delivering packages from Amazon?

Perhaps the greatest question of all is, how can it be that “South Park” consistently tackles such questions with an honesty and a thoroughness not commonly found anyplace else – and without ever compromising the naughty humor that has kept it a huge hit for almost two decades?

Ed Martin is the Editor of MediaBizBloggers and the television and video critic for the MyersEd MartinBusiness Network.

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