South Park “Tweek X Craig” Review

South Park “Tweek X Craig” Review
Season 19, Episode 6

I love when “South Park” goes back to its roots and is a show about kids being kids, and the problems and adventures that then arise. “Tweek X Craig” wasn’t about anything new or that happened in the headlines in the past week, but still managed to give a quite funny look at how societal pressures can make the developing sexuality of children all the more difficult and confusing for them to figure out.

The new Asian student population (Because “South Park” is diverse now!) has been drawing Yaoi art of Tweek and Craig, which led to a humorous scene with PC Principal who wanted to make sure,
even if they aren’t gay, that they know the importance of affirmative consent. Neither boy is actually gay, the art started confusing amongst all the boys in town, including Stan, who just wanted to know how the girls decided who they drew.

Randy — in an attempt to be PC and cool and the ‘hip’ dad — tried to talk to Stan about what was going on. Stan is of course only confused about why Tweek and Craig were picked (a plot line I thought would be developed more, but wasn’t really) but Randy, unwilling to show he maybe doesn’t know everything, goes along with the idea that the Asians pick who is gay. Of course they do.

The yaoi sight gags only kept getting better and better, up to the giant graffiti art of the two boys fucking spray painted on the side of the school. Even Cartman — always the bigot — decided that just because he doesn’t understand being gay doesn’t mean he shouldn’t support it. Perhaps one of the most progressive things ever to come from his hippie-hating lips.

If people thought last week that Reality was a stretch of a character, this week’s Cupid-Cartman was an even further stretch, with Cupid-Cartman trying to get Craig and Tweek to actually fall in love. It was pretty unclear where this bit was going for awhile, so far as to stretch it to have flowers being sent to Cartman, and then him going out to lunch with his own imaginary Cupid-psyche.

Instead of falling in love, the two boys broke out fighting (oddly without any ‘fighting is just straight guys having sex’ jokes). Mr. Tucker was so happy to hear that Craig had gotten into a fight, then to only learn that it was, as PC Principal said, with his boyfriend Tweek. PC Principal’s commitment to – no punishment, but instead sent the boys home with money (a gesture Tweek’s dad did earlier.)

The misinformation from parents about sexuality is a point the show has done, and done quite well, all the way back in season 5’s “Proper Condom Use,” but it just fits so well now with the personality that Randy has developed these past seasons. Randy called China, only to take away from the call that it was Japan, not China, who decides who is gay and who isn’t.
Of course, the central irony gluing everything together this week was the reversal on how the town’s pressure was on making the boys gay, not straight. It’s still societal pressure for the boys to be something they aren’t, and even progressive social pressure is still social pressure that isn’t supporting Tweek and Craig like they actually need to be.

This pushes Tweek and Craig to decide to actually come out as gay, and then to break up, in an attempt to stop all the pictures, instead resulting in more artwork being made, this time of the two breaking up.

Kyle is the voice of reason here, figuring out that yaoi is an art style that girls make because they like fictionalizing two guys together (I’m surprised none of the boys went ah! Like we like lesbians!), and that it doesn’t have anything actually to do with making Tweek and Craig gay. The break up happens nonetheless, with Tweek really selling it and making Craig out to look like the bad guy. The whole town mourned the break up (Even the Mayor, who for some reason visited a grave, which is an odd thread going through the episode and I wish had been explored more) of its first young gay couple.

Cartman’s Cupid-Me, unfortunately, came back again, with Cartman trying to get him to help get Tweek and Craig back together, in exchange for one date at least. Just because the show made fun of how odd it was (having Cartman sit there talking to himself) doesn’t really help that it wasn’t really working, and is a pretty big stretch when Cartman’s imagination actually started changing how people in town were thinking and feeling, resulting in a quite supportive talk between Craig and his father. Oh, and another hundred dollars.

The ending wasn’t great; Craig and Tweek just walked around with the episode’s third song-overlay montage, but it did leave the question if Craig and Tweek are actually gay, or are still just doing it because they feel they have to. More interesting though was the end bit with Cartman, who it seems the show may actually be setting up to realize he’s gay, or at the very least is starting to explore his own sexuality, even if it is through weird Cupid-me fascinations.

“Tweek X Craig” in a lot of ways felt more like classic-South Park — in a good way — and really was on a roll with the jokes this week. Bringing in the Asian student population also felt like a natural progression of the show’s serialization and “more progressive” arc this season, and a good way for the show to turn that into new ideas and plot lines. It was a smart and funny look at how a town turned PC can still push for the wrong things, and the play on being gay not being a choice — but a choice by Japan — was a pretty good “South Park” spin on things. Again, these aren’t new points or ideas for the show, but if they can still put a few new twists along and way and make them funny, it can still work, and work well.

Notes & Quotes

-“You need to say something like; Craig, is it alright with you if I touch your penis?”

-“Now Craig, would what you say if you wanted to take a gander at Tweek’s asshole?”

-“We’ve only had a Whole Food for three weeks and we already have our first gay kids. So cool.”

-“The Asians…the Asians decide who’s going to be gay?”

-“Yaoi, anal intercouse”, and whatever two made up words came after that

-“We thought you were such a spaz but to know you have so much going on inside”

-“I’m pretty sure Craig has seen my weiner…should I kick his ass?”

-“And my Dad days, like, Asians have always done this and they do make people gay.”

-Curious why the show went with Tweek for this one. Hasn’t seen him in awhile.

-“Apparently there were o affirmative consent issues as your son knows the right way to play with another boy’s penis.”

-“There’s not going to be any disciplinary actions since they are gay, we want to be supportive.”

-“I’m sorry, I don’t speak Asian.”

-“They’re so gay.”

-“We need to fake break up in front of the Asian girls.”

-“A lot of people feel that Asians decide who is gay or not…but it isn’t just Asians, it’s specifically the Japanese.”

-Nice touch to have Butters still in headgear from last week.

-Laughed at the “You Should Still” over the support your local artists sign.

-“You don’t get to decide. Japan picks who they pick and that’s that.”

-So many songs this season, and three song montages this episode alone. Pushing it a bit.

South Park “Safe Space” Review

South Park “Safe Space” Review

Season 19, Episode 5

He’s not fat, he’s big boned.

It’s a phrase that has followed Cartman through almost the entirety of the show. It’s somewhat fitting then, that it’s none other than Cartman who becomes the target when “South Park” takes on body shaming.

The episode kicked off with Cartman, in tears, in PC Principal’s office, after he was made fun of for being fat when he posted a picture of himself in his underwear online. Mr. Mackey quipped in – maybe Cartman shouldn’t have put such a picture online – before PC Principal decided that somebody should be required to filter every single comment Cartman gets, reporting only the positive ones back to him.

None of the other kids (duh) wanted to help out Cartman, and both Kyle and Wendy took detention over getting involved. This means the task, of course, fell to poor Butters, who ended up not only filtering social media for Cartman, but more and more celebrities as word started to get around that what he was doing was helping Eric, including Steven Segal, who seemed like an odd choice here, unless there’s something I’m missing.

The B plot fell to Randy…and Whole Foods. It’s an interesting bit for the show; by setting up and serializing plots and locations, the show is starting a bit to have more ‘normal’ plots based on reoccurring locations, more a la a traditional sitcom. But it was funny — and gave some of the best jokes this week — so I’ll allow it, even if it did seem weird to hang an entire B plot on what could have been a very one note joke about being asked to donate at the grocery store.

But Randy having to pull the change literally out of the little girl’s mouth? Hilarious. Break-out laughing hilarious.

I was waiting to see how the show would tie everything together, and it did with Randy’s #SafeSpace mock ad to try to get stores to stop asking for donations at the checkout line. It was a way to tie together all types of shaming, donation shaming included.

Everything culminated in another song, “In My Safe Space.” It’s a little interesting that we’ve now gotten two solid songs from the show two weeks in a row, in what might be a bit of YouTube culture rubbing off on Matt and Trey. This one also introduced Reality, a mischievous character that was hell bent on trying to ruin the safe space. It’s a little ridiculous of a characterization, but it works for the point the show is trying to make.

Really, it was Randy’s B plot with Whole Foods that ended up overshadowing everything else going on — both in terms of laughs — but also by hosting a charity dinner, that Reality tried to crash. I was a little worried that the show wouldn’t be able to bring this full circle, but it turned the point against the celebrities, not a new target for Matt and Trey, but one they are well used to pointing out the hypocrisies of.

“Safe Space” ended up being a decently strong episode, and one of the more cohesive we’ve seen yet this season. It did seem to miss the point that body shaming can have actual negative effects on people; using Cartman as one of the prime examples kind of shields away from this, as did the show’s targeting of mostly celebrities. There’s some other targets that could be misinterpreted to be caught in the crossfire here (like young children), and I feel that does hold back some of what the show was trying to say. “South Park” might not always take the high road, but it does tend to pick the appropriate targets.

It’s also kind of a dark resolution, even for a show like “South Park.” The world isn’t a perfect place, and that feeling shame is OK, especially when not feeling shame is rooted in the greed and ego that they seem to feel celebrity culture is based upon. Again, it’s not necessarily a new point of view for the show, but one it managed to hit home pretty successfully.

Notes & Quotes

-“I’m sorry, you don’t want to give a dollar to help hungry kids?”

-“Just pull the sandwich out of the little girls mouth”

-“it’s a pretty brutal job sifting through all that darkness.”

-“Because charity shaming hurts everyone.”

-“Oh no, not Reality. Somebody stop him.”

-“Tell the little hamster he’s not going to college.”

-David was back!

-“The world is darkness, the man is coming.”

-“”I’m sorry, the world isn’t one big liberal arts college campus.”

Not So Silent Episode 16: Doctor Who “The Woman Who Lived” Podcast

What happens when you are cursed with eternal life? Come listen in as Dillon, Ryane, and Willie discuss just that, Maisie Williams as a companion, our favorite person who was passed over for the companion role, and pumpkin spice lattes. For some reason.

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Doctor Who theme arranged by Dillon Jinks. Original composition by Ron Grainer.

Not So Silent Episode 15: Doctor Who “The Girl Who Died” Podcast

A special guest star from a little show called “Game of Thrones” joined the Doctor Who universe this week, as the Doctor and Clara had to deal with vikings, babies, and electric eels. Come listen in as Dillon, Ryane, and Willie discuss all of this, and more, of what happened in the most recent Doctor Who episode, “The Girl Who Died.”

The podcast is also on iTunes, so make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any of the awesomeness! Click right here and it will pop up right in iTunes.

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Doctor Who theme arranged by Dillon Jinks. Original composition by Ron Grainer.

South Park “You’re Not Yelping” Review

South Park “You’re Not Yelping” Review
Season 19, Episode 4

Everybody’s a critic.

Last season, “South Park” had a running theme of going after … let’s call them Silicon Valley problems. Or at least, problems that skewed very tech heavy — the season skewed a bit away from the general populace, and spoke directly toward  the show’s young and tech savvy audience. It was an odd selection of ideas to skewer and lampoon.

This week fit in quite well with that theme, and actually probably would have made more sense last season, or even a few years ago. Yelp? Since when has Yelp really been a hot-button topic worthy of discussion? Is Yelp really something worthy of an entire episode of “South Park?”

I don’t want to sit here and say that I don’t think “South Park” can pull off light, fun, and untimely episodes, because that’s not true. Some of the shows best efforts are when the kids are simply acting like little kids. But Yelp…really? We’re going to dedicate an entire episode to Yelp? I guess so. This was one of the episode where SP just points out that something is silly, but never says anything else about it. Yelp is silly. We get it. It isn’t fodder for an entire episode.

The show started with Randy and Gerald going to a restaurant and getting special treatment, because, you know, Gerald is a Yelp reviewer. Gerald got probably the best stick in the lot this week, with his pipe-smoking and quite wordy descriptions of eating experiences being a decent bit for him. Cartman, of course, is doing the same thing, and abusing the “status” that comes with being able to share every thought at the click of a button.

The show also introduced us to a new character, David, who Cartman racially mocked by using his Yelp-power (just in case anybody was worried totally PC South Park was the norm, I guess). Everything mostly stayed focused on Cartman, to mixed effect (his poop-consistency jokes were solid, but the repeated Mexican bicycle joke was old the first time he told it).

Whistlin’ Willy was the first restaurant owner to take a stand, and kicked out all the Yelpers, causing Cartman to unite them, and uhh, behead Whistling’ Willy. The terrorist comparison really seemed forced, and the show attempted to dig it out for a few more jokes, but that idea never really landed, made sense, or worked.

Then, in order to quell the ongoing Yelp revolt, Kyle, David, and the Mayor decided to give each Yelp reviewer a gold badge to help them feel special, and the restaurant decided to…well,snot and cum in all Yelp reviewer’s food. The ending song segment was pretty good, and probably the best part of the entire episode. It almost justified the entire premise, weak as it was, and there’s just something about a catchy song about boogers and cum that only SP can pull off.

I do wonder though if they built this episode backwards, and started with the song idea and then built everything else up around it. The middle act especially was pretty messy, and it sees that most of the focus went to finding a way to get to the ending song. There was so much opportunity here: talking about the role of criticism, the chance to mock critics of the show, or even to draw comparison between real critics and Yelpers, but the show opted instead for a superficial splattering of events that instead all built to one – albeit strong – ending joke.

Somewhere in “You’re Not Yelping” there is the idea that perhaps everybody isn’t really special, and that Yelp actually causes more damage than it does good, but it’s hidden in a pretty lackluster 20 minutes just poking fun at the whole idea in general. Well, and boogers and cum.

Notes & Quotes:

-Oh God, now everybody thinks they’re a food critic

-The Yelp critic tee shirt was pretty funny

-Same with the “we don’t care if you’re a food blogger” banner. The visual jokes were stroke this week.

– Cartman complaining about the food giving him solid poops, not watery at all, was a great bit

-I wonder if David and Wendy’s new friend are sticking around

-Also a little weird that the show focused on Yelp reviewers, not the company or its existence in the first place.

– Officer Harrison also gets caught up in this, though he was mostly retreading ground that Cartman and Gerald already did, with a personality specific bits.

Not So Silent Episode 14: Doctor Who “Before the Flood” Podcast

A new monster! More ghosts! A few twists, and a new enemy for the Doctor to face off against. Oh, and a giant Bootstrap paradox. Business as normal on the Not So Silent Podcast. Come listen in as Dillon, Ryane, and Willie discuss the most recent Doctor Who episode, “”Before the Flood.”

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Doctor Who theme arranged by Dillon Jinks. Original composition by Ron Grainer.

Not So Silent Episode 13: Doctor Who “Under the Lake” Podcast

Is the Doctor a cat or a dog person? And what exactly is the science going on with the ghosts in this episode? All of this (and more!) awaits you in this week’s episode of The Not So Silent Podcast. Come listen in as Dillon, Ryane, and Willie discuss the most recent Doctor Who episode, and figure out just what’s going down under that lake.

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Doctor Who theme arranged by Dillon Jinks. Original composition by Ron Grainer.

Podcast 89: Nintendo’s new president, Pokemon Go, and Star Fox delayed

When it rains it pours. Lots of big news this week. Will and Willie get together and discuss Nintendo’s new president, Tatsumi Kimishima, and what he could mean for the future of Nintendo.

They also chat about Pokemon Go, and the recent delay of Star Fox Zero. Enjoy!

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Podcast 88: Shovel Knight amiibo, and catching up on our gaming backlogs

What’s this?! Third party amiibo? Yup, and the little digger who could gets the honors of being the very first one. Welcome to the amiibo-verse, Shovel Knight.

Will and Willie also talk about the games they’ve been playing this summer, and catch up on some older titles that they probably should have played awhile ago. EarthBound and Donkey Kong fans, listen in.

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South Park “The City Side of Town” Review

South Park “The City Side of Town” Review
Season 19, Episode 3

“South Park” is starting to get caught up in its own joke, and while the last two episodes were funny enough to warrant this, this week resulted in one of the show’s more tame – and bland – offerings.

This week kicked off with a Jimmy Fallon monologue making fun of South Park…and the town taking it quite hard. Randy, now one of the more progressive voices in town, decided that the town needs a Whole Foods to help the image problem. How is South Park going to attract a high-end business like Whole Foods? With its own new fancy shopping and food district; SodoSopa.

Of course, this new planning development is set to go right where Kenny lives. But, in order to keep that original architecture that hipsters like, the new developments are built ridiculously close to and surrounding our orange-coated little friends abode. These new businesses are also pulling customers away from Tuong Lu Kim’s City Wok, who then decided to start using child labor (with Kenny signing up, because he apparently decided he needed a job) to try to put a stop to SodoSopa.

Meanwhile, a Whole Foods representative visited town, trying to go around and see if South Park actually is progressive enough to warrant such a chain to finally move in. Randy and the Mayor are on damage control, trying to make sure everything is spick and span and that nothing goes wrong.

To fight back, Kenny puts together a video for City Wok (which had one of the biggest laughs of the night), and Randy and the rest of the adults rush to try to stop things before the Whole Foods guy finds the child labor force. The advertisement for the Lofts (and then the Residences, and then the Villas at Kenny’s house) at SodoSopa was a pretty good bit, but it’s nothing that we haven’t seen the show do before, and it’s not really a surprise when everything backfires and the whole endevour erupted into a fight between the adults and Kim’s child labor force.

For some reason the Whole Foods guy decided the town putting in effort was enough, and still granted them a Whole Foods. Kenny used the money he made to buy his sister a doll; an oddly saccharine gesture, but one that also seems to be grounding the show in more down-to-earth moments.

The underlying concept that Kim represented an older (and more racist) part of the show was an interesting idea, but one that never really developed. And, while it spends a whole episode on the idea of gentrification, it never really dug into the issue, or said anything about it, aside from taking a few shots and pointing out how silly it can sometimes be. That’s pretty sub-par fare, as far as the show is concerned, and a disappointment after the wit the show displayed last week.

There’s a bigger underlying problem though, and one that is going to get riskier and riskier the longer the season wears on. The problem that “South Park” faces is that as it continues to develop the whole PC-ification of the show, it risks the joke no longer being a joke and “South Park” becoming a run-of-the-mill, more ordinary and PC-friendly, cartoon. Some may argue that South Park lost its fire some time ago, but either way it would be sad to see “South Park” so caught up in its own commentary that it loses what made it different and unique in the first place. Maybe – just maybe – that’s the point and what Matt and Trey are working for this season, but hopefully not. There are places the show could still take the joke, but it needs to be careful not to get too caught up in itself, and as a result actually creating a future where a tamer, and less funny, “South Park” is the norm.

Notes and quotes:

-Not a lot of laughs this week, but a few good lines.

-“We’re gentrifying, it’s all good.”

-No swearing, no weirdness, and no speeches.

-“from Colorado’s many oceans” may have been the best laugh of the week

-“Lets go child labor force, let’s go.”

-“Why do the economically challenged have to screw up everything?”

-the butcher scene (the reclaimed metals bit especially)

-wait, is Garrison not teaching anymore?

-“Are the Mexicans actually staying? Shushh.”