South Park Review: STANdstrong
What time is it?!
Why, it’s thinly-veiled allegory time on this week’s episode of South Park, "A Scause for Applause."
Last week's "A Nightmare on Face Time" may have been the Halloween episode, but was all about something even scarier: what happens when you’re revealed as the fraud you fear you've always been?
For those living under a rock, this was all a satire on Lance Armstrong’s recent ban for doping and his public stance against it, as well as the argument that what he did had the net positive effect of raising a lot of money for the fight against cancer with Livestrong. Or in Stan's case, STANdstrong.
Actually, the double fakeout of the setup was great: first, the episode seemed like it was going to go straight into a Lance Armstrong parody before making it about “Jesus taking HGH when he performed miracles.” That’s just preposterous. It did do an effective job at criticizing Armstrong for painting himself as a martyr-esque figure in his downfall. Then Stan got involved with keeping his “WWJD” bracelets, and, embroiled in his own controversy over whether he ever cut it off, this wound up being the focal point of the plot.
It served as an effective message: it’s all kind of silly. Maybe the people at the hearts of these scandals did something wrong, but it’s still just trivial. Of course, when the issues get blown up to such prominence, and those in the crossfire continue to lie about it, then I suppose they get what they deserve. That’s at least the message I got from this, though unlike Armstrong, Jesus and Stan have made it out okay, though I suppose Armstrong still has a lot of money to fall back on, and hey – there’s cyclers who dope and those haven’t been caught yet.
The satire was interrupted by the hilariously random inclusion of a Dr. Seuss parody, meant to serve as the driving force behind the manufacture of wristbands, it seems. After all, everyone manufacturing them has to be making a mint off of them, surely? But, really, as an excuse to bring in Seussian rhymes with the hint of profanity and to redecorate South Park in a whimsical coat of paint, it was all worth it. And then Jesus went and smashed everything up because that’s exactly what the Bible said he did.
That was where this episode succeeded for me: it combined a potent satire with the kind of outlandishness (including Cartman’s many, many bracelets) in a satisfying way. This was a great rebound after last week’s clunker. Now, with the election next week, will the show have something to say about that? Or will they go another direction because an election episode would be just too obvious?