South Park pandemic special: a biting and surprisingly affecting satire

Creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone address an unusual time in a deranged, funny and poignant episode

The great strength of South Park has always been its insouciant sense of liberation. Because Matt Stone and Trey Parker give themselves permission to do whatever deranged shenanigans they please with each new episode, they’re free to cut through the interference and say what everyone’s thinking, no matter how uncouth. (Or at least, their notion of it.) Over the past four years and especially in the months since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the mainstream news media has utterly failed the American people on this precise front, as arbitrary codes of journalistic propriety have kept legacy publications from stating the obvious. While headline editors at the New York Times have found a thousand ways to phrase Trump’s untruths other than “lies,” the unshackled doofuses of South Park can show the current commander-in-chief flame-throwing humankind’s last hope for a cure because he’s noticed that the coronavirus seems to be predominantly killing people he dislikes. Can’t get held up by fact-checkers if you’re not trafficking in facts.

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